Google Still Extending Search Lead

It’s no secret that Google is the big player in the online search industry, but that’s astonishing about Google’s search success is how the company is able to continue expanding its share of the online search market even when it’s already in such a dominant position. And yet, according to market analysis firm Hitwise, that’s exactly what they’re doing: according to Hitwise, in October 2008 Google accounted for 71.7 percent of all U.S. Web searches, up from 71.2 percent in September and 64.5 percent a year ago in October 2007. And the expansion primarily comes at the expense of rival Yahoo, which say it share drop from 18.1 percent in September to 17.7 percent in October.

Microsoft—which has famously been working to expand its share of the search market first by trying to acquire Yahoo and more recently through a series of partnerships and promotions—managed to increase it’s share slightly: form 5.34 percent in September to 5.4 percent in October. But a year ago, Microsoft accounted for 7.4 percent of the search market. Similarly, Ask.com saw its overall share decline from 3.6 percent in September to 3.5 percent in October; a year ago, Ask.com accounted for 4.8 percent of online search.

Speaking of Microsoft’s promotions to encourage users to try out its Live Search services, the company claims it’s Live Search cashback offering, rolled out back in May, is "showing traction" with consumers and advertisers, announcing that the program is now offering 30 percent more offers and is giving advertisers a good return on their investments. Microsoft is also citing figures from market analysis firm comScore that claim Microsoft Live search is the number two search engine in five of ten commercial categories in terms of conversion rate—the number of searches that actually turn into sales. Microsoft also claims Live Search ranked as the top seatch engine in terms of dollars spent per buyer: in other words, online buyers using Live Search tended to be bigger spenders.

Microsoft also rolled out a new SearchPerks program last month that lets Live Search users accumulate rewards points for using Live Search that can be redeemed for prizes and merchandise.