Search Share Compared: Ratings Service Faceoff, June 2007 To April 2008

With the latest search popularity stats now in from Hitwise, Nielsen, comScore, and Compete, it’s time to pit them against each other and see what they agree — and don’t agree – about in terms of search engine popularity.

Why not show a full year’s worth of data? Ratings methodology changes mean I can only go back to June 2007 for comScore and October 2007 for Nielsen.

Normally I would also show raw number of searches in addition to search share. See the caveats section below which explains why this is important. However, I don’t have Compete figures this month. Without them, I didn’t want to generate charts with data only from Nielsen and comScore. Those charts will return next time.

Services shown in the charts blow:

The charts show the share of searches in the United States that each ratings service estimates each search engine to have. In other countries, shares will be different — often dramatically so.

Finally, the charts use different scales. Rather than running them all from zero to 100 percent, I’ve tightened them between low and high marks unique to each service. This can make ups-and-downs seem more dramatic, but it also means you can better see specific changes with each service.


Google Search Share: June 2007-April 2008

What, you were expecting a decline? Google’s exact share may differ from ratings service to ratings service. But everyone agrees — Google’s going up, up, up.


Google Search Share: June 2007-April 2008

Yes, Yahoo’s seeing declines overall — though in raw number of searches (see Nielsen and comScore), it pretty much has stayed the same. It’s not that Yahoo is losing search traffic. Google’s getting more of new traffic.


Google Search Share: June 2007-April 2008

Everyone now gives Microsoft less than 10 percent share of the US market. In terms of raw searches, the picture’s similar to Yahoo, where Microsoft is largely keeping the same number of searches.

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.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Stats: Compete | Stats: comScore | Stats: Hitwise | Stats: NetRatings | 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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