Search Sees Double-Digit Growth

The number of U.S. searches grew 55 percent in December 2005 over December 2004, according to data released by Nielsen//NetRatings.

The growth accounts for 5.1 billion searches conducted in December 2005, up from 3.3 billion searches carried out the previous December. During this time, the U.S. Internet user base increased by just 3 percent to reach 207 million users in the total digital media universe, which includes some non-active users. In December, the number of active home users registered at 143.8 million.

“The growth of search and the role of search in usage of the Internet has been astounding,” said Ken Cassar, senior director of analytics at Nielsen//NetRatings. “When you look at search penetration, it’s near 80 percent. The number of searches each person generates, it’s high. It would be intuitive to say the numbers can’t get any bigger than they are, but they’ve continued nonetheless.”

In December, Google searches rose six percentage points to reach a 49 percent share of all searches over the previous December. Yahoo Search and MSN Search each declined slightly in the percentage of shares they served.

Top Three U.S. Search Share Rankings by Percentage Points, December 2004 and 2005
Search Engine December 2004 Search Share (%) December 2005 Search Share (%) Change (Percentage Points)
Google 43.1 48.8 5.7
Yahoo 21.7 21.4 -0.3
MSN 14.0 10.9 -3.1
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings, February 2006

The number of searches isn’t a factor in market share. Each of the three search engines experienced double-digit year-over-year growth. Google experienced 75 percent growth, Yahoo Search went up 53 percent, and MSN Search increased by 20 percent.

“There are a lot of positive things happening in the search space that only lead me to believe people will use it more frequently,” said Cassar.

Top Three U.S. Search Engines by Growth in Searches, December 2004 and 2005
Search Engine December 2004 Searches (000) December 2005 Searches (000) Growth (%)
Google 1,414,778 2,475,895 75
Yahoo 711,857 1,085,918 53
MSN 460,377 553,476 20
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings, February 2006

Nielsen//NetRatings includes panel-based and site-centric Internet audience measurement services.

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