Google Gains Overall, Competition Builds Niches

Google continues to gobble market share from Yahoo and other search competitors, as OneStat found that more than half of global Internet users continue to rely on the dominant engine.

Search Engine Global Usage Share
Property May 2004 Nov. 2003 May 2003 Jan. 2003
Google 56.4% 56.1% 55.2% 54.7%
Yahoo 21.1% 21.5% 21.7% 22.1%
MSN Search 9.2% 9.4% 9.6% 9.5%
AOL Search 3.8% 3.7% 3.8% 3.7%
Terra Lycos 2.0% 2.3% 2.6% 2.8%
Altavista 1.7% 1.9% 2.2% 2.5%
Ask Jeeves 1.7% 1.6% 1.5% 1.5%
Source: OneStat

The findings are similar in the U.S., with Hitwise placing Google at the top for search in April 2004, with Yahoo as the number one portal. Google registered more than a 21 percent gain in market share from August 2003 to April 2004, while Yahoo’s search engine lost nearly 1 full percentage point, and MSN’s search function registered a nearly 9 percent decrease in market share during the same period.

The top three search engines combined – Google, Yahoo and MSN – accounted for 5.5 percent of all U.S. Internet visits for the week ending May 15, 2004.

Google Image Search, which was launched in July 2001 with a catalog of 250 million pictures, has since grown to comprise 880 million images, and visitor growth has run parallel. According to Hitwise, Google Image Search nearly doubled market share from August 2003 to April 2004 when it grew from 0.73 percent to 1.44 percent.

Just as an iProspect study revealed that searchers viewed results differently across the top search engines, Hitwise also found differentiators among the top three search applications. MSN Search had the highest percentage of U.S visits from the sites Hitwise categorized as Shopping and Classifieds; Business and Finance; and Travel, while Yahoo Search and Google received more U.S. visits from the sites in the Education; News and Media; and Entertainment categories.

The comprehensive iProspect survey, conducted in conjunction with Survey Sampling International, WebSurveyor, and Stratagem Research, revealed demographic differences in regard to paid and organic search results.

Women found paid ads to be more relevant than the men did when searching across Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL. College graduates and Internet veterans found organic results to be more relevant than their non-graduate and Internet novice counterparts.

Demographically, Hitwise found that Google was the preferred search tool for males, while MSN Search appealed to females. Yahoo was the more popular engine for 18 to 34 year-old searchers, and MSN Search captured the over 55 crowd.

U.S. Search Engine User Demographics
(for the 12 weeks ending May 15, 2004)
Google Yahoo Search MSN Search
Female 46.58% 50.76% 54.26%
Male 53.42% 49.24% 45.74%
18-34 43.57% 48.23% 39.53%
35-54 42.85% 39.83% 44.49%
55+ 13.57% 11.94% 15.99%
Under $30k/year 20.00% 21.87% 21.01%
$30k-$100k 57.05% 57.69% 58.84%
Over $100k/year 22.95% 20.44% 20.16%
Source: Hitwise

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