Search Rises Above Porn In U.K. Visits

Hitwise reports that search engines have overtaken adult sites in share among U.K. internet users. In January, search engines accounted for 13.3% of all UK internet visits, compared with 11.5% for adult websites. The market share of UK internet visits to search engines grew 21% year-on-year in January, while Adult websites declined 14%. Search engines were one of the fastest growing categories in January, with growth outpaced by only the Net Communities and Chat and News and Media categories (up 41% and 28% respectively).

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Google and Yahoo! Search led the growth with the share of UK internet searches powered by Google (www.google.co.uk and www.google.com) increasing 6% year-on-year to 78% and Yahoo! Search (uk.search.yahoo.com and search.yahoo.com) increasing 12% to take 8% of search queries in the four weeks to 10th February 2007. MSN Search (search.msn.co.uk, search.msn.com and www.live.com) accounted for 6% of UK internet searches and Ask.com (uk.ask.com and www.ask.com) accounted for 5%.

Hitwise also reported that the search terms entered by U.K users varies significantly depending on the search engine. From the press release:

Hitwise analysis reveals that the search terms that consumers enter into the leading search engines varies, in some cases quite dramatically. In particular, Google.co.uk searchers are more likely to be looking for web 2.0 properties and uk.ask.com searchers are more likely to search for generic products.
For example, searches for “wikipedia” ranked #13 on Google.co.uk based on volume of UK searches, the term ranked #40 on uk.search.yahoo.com, #89 on uk.ask.com and #77 on search.msn.co.uk. The term “flickr” ranked #576 on Google.co.uk, #1007 on uk.search.yahoo.com, #2259 on uk.ask.com and #1759 on search.msn.co.uk. Hitwise analysis revealed similar patterns for “myspace”, “bebo” and other web 2.0 properties.
Ask.com users are more likely to search for generic products, such as “share prices”, “car insurance” and “weather” than users of the other search engines. In particular, the term “famous people” ranked at #18 on uk.ask.com but fell below the top 5,000 terms on the other major search engines.
“Varying demographics and the short cuts on Ask.com account for the differences,” said Heather Hopkins, Vice President of Research for Hitwise UK.. “Ask.com prompts users with shortcuts to help guide queries, and use of these shortcuts have changed the queries performed on Ask.com. Also, whilst the audience of the leading search engines overlap to some extent, each also has a slightly unique profile of user. For example, Ask.com tends to attract a larger share of younger families than average whilst Yahoo! Search attracts a larger share of visits from Northern Ireland and Scotland. Understanding demographic and behavioural differences can help marketers improve search marketing campaigns across the various search engines.”

Postscript: Although the press release is not online, Heather Hopkins, Director of Research for Hitwise UK, comments on the findings in her blog.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Stats: Hitwise | Stats: Popularity | Stats: Search Behavior

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About The Author: (@CJSherman) is a Founding Editor of SearchEngineLand.com and President of Searchwise LLC, a Boulder Colorado based Web consulting firm. He also programs and co-chairs the Search Marketing Expo - SMX conference series.

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