comScore: Google Wins Again & IE7 Doesn’t Stop Microsoft’s Slide

It’s that time again — search popular stats for last month are coming out. Actually, Hitwise sent me their figures earlier this month but I’m diving in with the comScore figures that just came out. The main real news is despite the Internet Explorer 7 launch, Microsoft’s Live continues to show a drop in usage.

First the figures for December 2006, the share of searches each search engine is estimated to have handled for home, work and university users in the United States each month:

  • Google: 47.3%
  • Yahoo: 28.5%
  • Microsoft: 10.5%
  • Ask: 5.4%
  • AOL/Time Warner: 4.9%

Now, I always look for the broad trends in these figures — what’s happened over a range of months — to determine who is winning and losing. From what I’ve written before on the topic:

Look for long-term trends. You want to view stats for several months in a row, not two isolated months compared to each other. Stats can and will plunge from one month to the next for all types of reasons, not the least due to a ratings service itself having some counting glitch. Similarly, comparing back from one month to the same time the previous year might not reflect counting changes that may have happened or been refined over that time. I want a trend line — and a long one.

So let’s look at the trend chart:

comScore Search Ratings, Dec. 2005-2006, All Search Engines

With this perspective in place, let’s do winners and losers:

Winners

Google: Google hits a new record 47.3 percent share, as measured by comScore. That’s the highest share comScore has ever recorded for the service. But hey, didn’t you remembering hearing something that Google had like a 70 or 80 percent share? Yes, depending on what stats you want to look at. Google By Far The Leader, If You Look At Site Owner Traffic Stats from me last month explains all about this.

Ask: Ask’s network continues to draw more search share than AOL. Ask’s network (places like Excite, iWon, MyWay.com and My Web Search, not just Ask.com) overtook AOL for the first time back in September 2006. It has stayed ahead in all the months since then.

Yahoo: Sure, Yahoo’s shown no real growth over the past year, staying within the same general range. That’s a victory in the search wars, as I’ve written before:

When I’m looking at the figures, I’m watching to see if the [trend] line moves through important bands. Again, see the NetRatings chart above. Every fifth percent mark has a solid line. I’m less worried if Google goes up or down between the 45 and 50 percent marks. I’m more interested if it breaks out of that band in either direction for a long period of time.

That’s one reason why when comScore figures were ringing some alarms with some analysts earlier this year, I felt pretty mellow about Yahoo. In the comScore stats, it was staying within the 25 to 30 percent band it had been in for several months. Moreover, the NetRatings figures had Yahoo pretty solid in the 20 to 25 percent range.

Losers

AOL: As noted, AOL has moved from fourth network to fifth network behind Ask.

Microsoft Live: Many expected Internet Explorer 7 was going to improve the share Microsoft has. Not me. As I’ve written in the past:

It’s uncertain to me that the search box in the "chrome" is going to make that much of a difference, but I haven’t seen much user behavior data here. I could be completely wrong, and Microsoft’s competitors are certainly worried about it. We’ll know in short order. IE7 is being rolled out in a mandatory fashion to Windows users beginning November 1 through the Windows update system. If Microsoft’s search share rises, the chrome search box may be working.

However, I think many people will still fire up their browser and go back to the search engines they regularly use. Google and Yahoo might not have the enticements to switchover today up, but those will come. And I think those will help them to largely preserve their shares despite the IE7 rollout.

So far, that’s been the case. Microsoft hasn’t gained share. They’ve lost it, at least according to comScore and despite the IE7 launch. The descent is easier to see if I zoom in on the three smallest of the major search engines:

comScore Search Ratings, Dec. 2005-2006, Live, Ask, AOL

Looking At Microsoft’s Continued Long Game In Search yesterday from me revisits some of Microsoft’s ambitions and goals in the challenge against Google. Microsoft Live & Yahoo Push For Firefox Users, Plus Revisiting The IE7 Search Battle also from me yesterday looks at how Microsoft competitors are hitting back to avoid losing searchers in Internet Explorer 7.

Other Ratings Services

My other key bit of advice when looking at ratings services is to consider figures from a variety of players. From what I’ve written before:

Look at figures from multiple services. For several months, comScore has painted a pretty bleak figure for Yahoo, showing share decreases. At least twice this year (January & July), Yahoo has had to warn analysts not to trust the comScore figures too much (and oh the irony of Yahoo now having hired the former comScore CEO this month). In contrast, NetRatings was showing Yahoo as pretty stable. If I’m going to declare Yahoo in trouble (and I didn’t), I’m more likely to do that if more than one ratings service is reflecting a plunge of some time. If it’s only one of them, then I’m more in "watch and see" mode.

As I said, Hitwise figures were released earlier this month to me. I’ll spin back to them next. Then NetRatings figures will likely come within hours, so they’ll be up from me shortly as well. Compete also released December 2006 figures here. When I’ve got them assembled, I’ll do big comparisons charts like this that I’ve done before. Stay tuned!

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

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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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  • http://www.weboptimist.com WebOptimist

    Judging from my experience with IE7, I can see why it hasn’t helped Microsoft. IE7 crashes on me several times a day. I find myself using Firefox more and more since the “upgrade” to IE7.

    Unfortunately, there are still some clueless web sites out there that won’t work in Firefox.

    Of course, the whole “Live” campaign has been a disaster as well.

  • http://www.14thc.com rmccarley

    I know this is about “networks” but as SEOs defining a difference between AOL and Google is silly. Google powers AOL and in the realm of SEO counting them as seperate may be a mistake. Rank well in Google to get both.

  • DesignGrrl

    Looks like Ask.com is planning on big growth, having signed a $6 mil lease for more office space in Oakland thru 2015.
    http://www.costar.com/News/Article.aspx?id=7FEAEE0340303F248EF7CB723284884D

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