Search engine trends in 2006

I was reading the June 2006 comScore Search Engine Rankings and Nielsen releases (U.S. based studies) and I just can’t miss the fact that search engine traffic is on a steady inclinde year after year:

Monthly Share of Online Searches by Engine (U.S.)
Jun-05 May-06 Jun-06 June 06 vs. May 06
Total Internet Population 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% N/A
Google Sites 36.9% 44.2% 44.7% +0.5
Yahoo! Sites 30.4% 28.0% 28.5% +0.5
MSN-Microsoft Sites 15.7% 13.1% 12.8% -0.3
Time Warner Network N/A N/A 5.6% N/A
Ask Network 6.0% 5.3% 5.1% -0.2

At the moment, organic search marketing is the most cost effective as well as the best converting (increased ROI) Internet marketing option for any advertiser or website owner.

In the same article you’ll also find the searches trend:

Quarterly Search Query Volume by Engine, in Millions (U.S.)
Q2 2006 vs. Q2 2005
Search Queries (Mil.)
Percent Change vs. Year Ago
  Q2-05 Q1-06 Q2-06
Total Internet Population 15,291 17,710 19,892 30%
Google Sites 5,654 7,466 8,753 55%
Yahoo! Sites 4,646 4,971 5,607 21%
MSN-Microsoft Sites 2,391 2,384 2,571 8%

So whilst in 2006, none of the bigger search engines decreased it’s number of searches we can certainly see a trend amongst the competition:

  • Google has increased both it’s number of searches (8,753) as well as market share (44.7%).
  • Yahoo has increased it’s number of searches (5,607) but decreased it’s market share (28.5%).
  • MSN has increased it’s number of searches (2,571) but decreased it’s market share (12.8%).
  • Ask is just not competitive enought yet with only a 5.1% market share.

Google is by far the leader in online search, in the US. What impresses me the most is the increase in the number of searches done in 2006, versus 2005. A staggering 55% increase.

These numbers will only grow and grow, as online search becomes more popular and as more and more people get broadband in their homes (only 37% of U.S.’s population has access to the Internet, March 31, 2006 report, according to Nielsen//NetRatings and other sources):

Internet Usage 2006, in US

Whilst Google is the leader, Microsoft really needs a kick in the but. Over the last year, the software corporation BARELY managed to stay in the search game, without loosing number of searches, altough it’s market share is steadily decreasing.

Another look into the growing industry of search is the stock price increases. Let’s make a summary of stock price increases from January 2005 to the present day (July 2006):

  • Google increased it’s stock price from $193,85 to $389,83 (altough the company had a spike of $471.63 in january 2006).
  • Yahoo! decreased it’s stock price from $36,70 to $27,17.
  • Microsoft increased it’s stock price from $24,08 to $24,17.
  • Ask is just not competitive enought yet with only a 5.1% market share.

Again, we can clearly see a trend. Google is smashing the competition by far.

What about the ranking algorithms between the search engines in 2006, versus 2005 and the previous years ? Well, at least Google has made big efforts to reduce spam and fraud. I can’t say the same about Yahoo (Yahoo! made some improvements related to fraud, but the ranking algo can still be easily fooled) and MSN though.

Aaron Wall has a nice post about the search engines relevancy in 2006. It’s a must read.

I would love some comments.

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Cristian Mezei

I am myself.