Hitwise Releases Highlights of Online Search Sector Report

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Competitive intelligence service Hitwise has released highlights of a report it conducted on the search engine industry. The report studied the amount of traffic search engines receive, the amount of visitor growth experienced, demographic information, and which categories garnered the most visitors.

Hitwise’s report was released in a format that highlighted the main areas of search engine traffic. These highlights are:

— The top three search engines; Google, Yahoo! Search and MSN Search account for 5.5% of all U.S. Internet visits.

— During the period of August 2003 to April 2004, Google experienced a growth in U.S. market share against all sites of 30.9%. During that same timeframe, Yahoo! Search registered a modest 2.4% growth rate and MSN Search had a loss of -15.4% market share of U.S. visits.

— Amongst the leading three engines, Google experienced a net gain in U.S. visits (i.e.. received more visits than it delivered) from both MSN Search (0.08%) and Yahoo! Search (2.06%), while both MSN Search and Yahoo! Search experienced a net loss of U.S. visits to Google (-1.46% and -0.60% respectively).

— MSN Search has the highest percentage of U.S. visits from the very lucrative categories of Shopping and Classifieds, Business and Finance, and Travel.

— Yahoo! Search and Google are stronger in receiving U.S. visits from the categories of Education, News and Media and Entertainment.

— Vertical search sites in the Shopping & Classifieds and Travel categories are experiencing very strong growth with a concurrent decrease in referral U.S. visits from search engines, indicating potential user preference for vertical specific search.

— Both Yahoo! Search and MSN Search capture more of the lower U.S. income demographic of $30,000 -$60,000 annual household income. Yahoo! Search stands out in the younger U.S. age demographic of 25-34 (25.99%), while MSN Search is stronger with U.S. females (54.26%).

These highlights demonstrate that Google still has a stronghold on the search engine industry. Its growth in the U.S. market share dominated the competition with 30.9%. Yahoo, by comparison, experienced a 2.4% growth, while MSN recorded a -15.4% market share loss.

Google also gained in US visits while Yahoo and MSN experienced losses. MSN did gain popularity in the shopping, classifieds, business, and finance categories. The other two engines had higher popularity in areas that dealt with news and business.

As the battle for search engine supremacy rages on, reports like this serve as status reports, giving users an idea who is “winning”. Expect this list to fluctuate as Yahoo and MSN make changes to their search services to remain competitive with Google. It would seem that MSN has their work cut out for them. They are the only one of the big 3 without their own proprietary search engine. Yahoo/Overture provides MSN’s search.

For a copy of the Hitwise U.S. Online Search Report, please contact Lizzie Babarczy of Hitwise.com

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Hitwise Releases Highlights of Online Search Sector Report
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