Online Search Becoming Ingrained In People's Lives - InformationWeek

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Online Search Becoming Ingrained In People's Lives

There's good, if obvious, news for Google, Yahoo, MSN, and other search engines. Search is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our lives. January saw a record number of online searches in the United States.

January saw a record number of online searches in the United States, reflecting how looking for goods, services and information on the Web has become a part of people's everyday lives, a research firm said Friday.

While the number of searches soared, the market share of the top three search engines, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft MSN, was relatively unchanged, Nielsen/NetRatings said.

Online Americans conducted 5.7 billion searches in the first month of the year, a 39 percent surge from the same month a year ago, the research firm said.

“Web users are conducting more searches not because they can't find what they're looking for, but because search as a utility has become deeply ingrained into people's everyday lives,” Nielsen/NetRatings analyst Ken Cassar said in a statement.

The January increase was less than in December, which is seasonally higher. In the last month of 2005, the number of searches soared 55 percent from a year ago to nearly 5.1 billion, driving solid growth in search marketing revenue that month.

Google upped its market share a tad to 48.2 percent in January from 47.1 percent a year ago. Yahoo's share increased 1 percent to 22.2 percent, and MSN saw a 1.8 percent drop to 11 percent.

For comparison, Nielsen/NetRatings rival ComScore Networks reported late last month an 11 percent increase in online searches in January to 5.48 billion. The increase was substantially lower than the 42 percent surge recorded in January 2005, compared with the same month in the previous year.

The reduction indicated that growth in the U.S. search market was slowing, but the use of search queries for advertising purposes was on the rise. In December 2005, 57.2 percent of search results included a sponsored advertisement, up from 49.1 percent in December 2004. In addition, the international market continued to be strong in December with a growth rate of 34 percent.

Google led the market with a 41.4 percent share, followed by Yahoo, 28.7 percent and MSN, 13.7 percent, ComScore.

Findings often differ due to the different methodologies used by research firms.

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