Last week, Hitwise released the latest statistics for search engine share in the United States for March 2008, showing Google at an all-time high while Microsoft and Yahoo hit all-time lows.
The four major search engines stack up as follows:
- Google: 67.3%
- Yahoo: 20.3%
- Microsoft: 6.7%
- Ask: 4.1%
The trend over time? Here’s the past year’s worth of data:
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 all time lows for the same period.
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.
Also specifically for Hitwise, you don’t see AOL on the chart because Hitwise doesn’t break it out. Instead, it is included in the "Other" figure. Hitwise generally undercounts AOL’s share; other services put it at 4 percent or higher.