It’s search popularity statistics time again, and I’m starting off with the latest figures from comScore. Finally, a change — Google slips while Yahoo and Microsoft gain. Trouble for the Big G? Not really — because in terms of raw number of searches, June 2008 was another record breaker for Google.
Below is the percentage of searches handled in the United States by each of the five "core" search engines that comScore tracks:
- Google: 61.5%
- Yahoo: 20.9%
- Microsoft: 9.2%
- AOL: 4.1%
- Ask: 4.3%
The trend over time? Here’s data going back to June 2007:
Google dropped from 61.8% in May 2008 to 61.5% in June 2008, the first time a share drop has been shown over the past year since December 2007 (when it went from 58.6% to 58.4%).
In contrast, Microsoft showed its first gain in the past year. After months and months of incremental decline, Microsoft rose from an 8.5% share in May 2008 to 9.2% in June 2008. That’s the first full month that Microsoft’s Live Search Cashback has been running, so this is likely a factor in Microsoft’s rise.
Success! Perhaps — but then again, fair to say that Microsoft is hoping that program will generate more than a 0.7% rise in its share, and that’s all it has gotten so far. Clearly the program isn’t a massive initial game changer that some thought it to be, or we’d have seen a much larger month-to-month jump. Instead, if Cashback is going to be a success, clearly now it will be something that happens over time. So we’ll wait and see if that indeed happens in the coming months.
Meanwhile, hey little Yahoo, you’re bucking up! After months of drops with the occasional rise, Yahoo posts two straight months of gains, coming up from 20.4% in April 2008 to 20.6% in May, then 20.9 percent in June 2008. Why? No idea. Yahoo’s Search Monkey program started kicking off at the end of May, but I doubt this was the driver. Perhaps all that attention over Microsoft wanting to buy Yahoo got a few more searchers headed Yahoo’s way.
Before Microsoft and Yahoo feel too good about Google’s "fall," let’s consider the actual number of searches each handled versus market share?
- Google: 7.1 billion
- Yahoo: 2.4 billion
- Microsoft: 1.1 billion
- Ask: 501 million
- AOL: 471 million
As you can see, while Google’s share of the total search pie dropped, since the number of searches in the pie itself grew, Google still showed a gain. And what a gain — Google went over the 7 billion searches served mark. Yahoo, at 2.4 billion searches, had its highest volume in the past year. Microsoft, at just over 1 billion searches, didn’t break any past records but at least got closer to territory it held a year ago.
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.