Compete: Microsoft Gains Share; Google Hits New High In Raw Searches

March 2008 Search Share: Compete

Having covered Hitwise stats yesterday, today I move on to the latest stats from Compete on search engine share in the United States for March 2008. Unlike Hitwise, they show Google taking a very slight dip last month, with Microsoft getting a slight rise. But while Google’s percentage share dropped, on a number of searches basis it hit a new high.

The four major search engines stack up as follows:

  • Google: 69.4%
  • Yahoo: 14.8%
  • Microsoft: 10.2%
  • Ask: 3.7%

POSTSCRIPT:Compete counted searches in March from Club Live that it thought it was filtering out, which inflated the Microsoft figures. I’m not going to redo all the charts due to the time involved. Future charts will reflect the new figures. Microsoft had a 8.5% share for March, rather than 10.2%. See Microsoft Dips In Compete’s Revised March 08 Search Figures for more.

The trend over time? Here’s the past year’s worth of data:

March 2007-March 2008 Search Share: Compete

Google is just off its previous high over the past year of 70% set last month. Yahoo sees an all-time low over the past year, while Microsoft comes up from an all-time low over the past year of 8.4 percent last month.

Google’s previous high (according to stats I have going back to August 2006) was in April 2007, with a 65.3 percent share. Microsoft and Yahoo, in contrast, hit an all time low for the same period.

How about number of searches versus market share?

  • Google: 6 billion
  • Yahoo: 1.3 billion
  • Microsoft: 922 million
  • Ask: 317 million

The trend (I don’t have data for the missing month):

March 2007-March 2008 Searches: Compete

As you can see, despite the slight Google dip on a percentage share basis, the number of searches at Google actually rose. And Yahoo, which had a drop, barely saw a drop in searches when you consider it on a number basis. As the caveats explain more below, the overall pie got bigger, with Microsoft getting a larger slice, but Google and Yahoo still had plenty to eat.

Caveat Time!

As a reminder, my general rules when 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.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Stats: Compete | Stats: Popularity


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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