Czech search engine Seznam disputes claims Google has supplanted it on local market

Czech Internet search engine Seznam has long been a rarity on the world wide web by beating global leader Google into second place on the local market. But figures just out suggest that the US giant could have overtaken the Czech company at the start of the year. We look at those statistics and the battle to be the favourite on the local internet search market.

Internet search research site Toplist came out with figures for the start of January, which, according to some interpretations, put Google in top position as the most popular Czech search engine for the first time. According to Toplist, Google grabbed 50.66 percent of the market with Seznam trailing in second place at 48.63 percent.

Those figures follow a concerted effort by Google to get ahead in the local market, offering more options in Czech, more applications, and spending heavily on ad campaigns promoting its service.

For Google, the Czech Republic stood out as one of a handful of black spots around the world where it was not number one. Other countries where local search engines have held out against its challenged include China and Russia with Yahoo also beating Google to second place in Japan.

Michal Vodák
But longtime local market leader Seznam disputes the latest market figures that suggest it has been dethroned. Seznam’s marketing director Michal Vodák says the figures simply do not give a fair position of its strength on the Czech market and unfairly magnify Google’s appeal.

“Actually, we have stated from the very beginning that we do not accept this interpretation of Toplist statistics. And we are very unhappy that nobody asked us about our opinion. The truth is that our competitor is bigger in total for searching of Czech websites from Czech, Slovak and dotcom domains put together. But Seznam.cz operates only on the Czech market and has only one domain. So we would say this is irrelevant data.”

Added to this, Seznam says that Toplist’s snapshot of search engine activity on the Czech market is not very broad with Google boycotting another survey that would give a better picture of how the rivals are faring.

According to its analysis, Seznam has no doubt that it still occupies top spot.

“If you consider Czech internet users on Czech websites and take the same statistics from Toplist, we are still bigger than our competitor.”

But even with growth of 4.0 percent last year, Seznam does concede that its rivals, and it is talking here about the social network, Facebook, as well as Google, have been eating into the lead it established on the Czech market ever since its debut in 1996. But the Czech company is on Wednesday launching an offline campaign, including tv adverts, to consolidate its position.