I’ve now compiled the latest search popularity stats from Nielsen, comScore, Hitwise, and Compete. That means it’s time to put them all together, to see what a "panel" of ratings services agree on — and don’t agree on — in terms of search engine popularity.
Ordinarily, I’d love to cover an entire year’s worth of data from each service. Unfortunately, I’ve previously written how changes in rating methodology mean I can only go back six months for comScore and two months for Nielsen, at the moment. I can go back a full year for Compete and Hitwise, but when doing comparisons, I like to have at least three services represented for any data point. That means I’ve limited the comparison looks below to the past six months.
My last big comparison like this was done in March, and I’m going to lead off with the general explanations I gave back then. First, my usual caveats for evaluating popularity stats:
- Avoid drawing conclusions based on month-to-month comparisons. Lots
of things can cause one month’s figures to be incomparable to another month.
It’s better to see the trend across multiple months in a row.
- Avoid drawing conclusions based on one ratings service’s figures.
Each service has a unique methodology used to create popularity estimates.
This means that ratings will rarely be the same between services. However, a
trend that you see reflected across two or more services may give you faith in
trusting that trend.
- Consider Actual Number Of Searches: While share for a particular search engine might drop, the raw number of searches might still be going up (and thus they might be earning more money, despite a share drop). This is because the "pie" of searches keeps growing, so even a smaller slice of the pie might be more than a bigger slice in the past. See Nielsen NetRatings: August 2007 Search Share Puts Google On Top, Microsoft Holding Gains for a further explanation of this.
The charts below address my three issues above. They show ratings for each month over the past six months from multiple services, both share figures and number of searches (except for Hitwise, which doesn’t report number of searches. For Nielsen, only the past two months are available). Services shown in the charts:
- CS stands for comScore, and
comScore Nov. 2007:
Google Tops Search Share; Yahoo Holds Steady In Number Of Searches
explains more about the comScore figures used.
- NR stands for Nielsen Online,
and Nielsen Online:
Nov. 2007 Search Stats See Google On Top explains more about the
NetRatings figures used.
- HW stands for Hitwise, and
Hitwise Nov. 2007
Search Stats: Google Near All-Time High; Microsoft Hits All-Time Low
explains more about the Hitwise figures used.
- CP stands for Compete, and Compete Nov. 2007 Search Stats: Google Hits High; Microsoft Steady & Yahoo Declining explains more about Compete figures used.
The charts show the share of searches in the United States that each ratings service estimates each search engine to have. In other countries, shares will be different — often dramatically so.
Finally, the charts use different scales. Rather than running them all from zero to 100 percent, I’ve tightened them between low and high marks unique to each service. This can make ups-and-downs seem more dramatic, but it also means you can better see specific changes with each service.
Everyone agrees — Google’s share has generally risen over the past six months, though Hitwise recorded a midway slump.
In terms of number of searches, two say Google’s up by about a half-a-billion searches, while Nielsen disagrees. (Figures above are in billions).
Again, agreement — Yahoo’s been in general decline over the past six months.
It’s a different picture when considering number of searches at Yahoo. Here, Yahoo is roughly unchanged over the period, except according to NetRatings, which also has limited data for the period. (Figures above are in billions).
Compete is the exception on Microsoft, finding it has stayed steady while the other services see a decline, though comScore too reflects a potential leveling-off. (Figures above are in billions).
In terms of number of searches, comScore says Microsoft is generally down, while Compete puts it up.
Looking for some additional reading related to search stats, in terms of end-of-the-year stuff? While I don’t like month-to-month comparisons for reasons already stated, TechCrunch had some nice month-to-month looks that you’ll find listed below:
- 2007 In Numbers: Low Traffic Is One Problem Yahoo Doesn’t Have
- 2007 In Numbers: More People Using Yahoo Mail This Christmas Than Gmail
- 2007 In Numbers: The Ask Mouse Squeaked A Little Louder This Year
- 2007 In Numbers: The Year AOL Killed Netscape’s Traffic
- 2007 In Numbers: iGoogle Google’s Homegrown Star Performer This Year
Also, So who’s doing all this searching anyway? from Compete in November has been on my catch-up list for a good read. Plus, don’t forget our Stats: Popularity category here on Search Engine Land, if you need even more material!