Google Hot but Cooling; Ask Up then Down then Up

September was a historic month according to Compete search data. September 2006 was the first month since September 2005 that Google had lower search market share than the prior month. Now before we all start talking about the imminent demise of Google, the reality is Google’s share of web search activity was down only very slightly. It’s hard to honestly view this as the beginning of the end of Google’s dominance. Especially when you put it in perspective with September 2005′s market share for Google. It’s also important to note the overall 13 month trend for Google relative to its top rivals. Yahoo, MSN (including Live), AOL, and Dogpile all had lower market share year-over-year.

The odd duck in the crowd? That honor goes to Ask. Ask’s search market share was actually up year-over-year. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride for Ask in the past 13 months. For those of you that have had time to actually watch TV you may have come across some of Ask’s offline TV campaigns. Interestingly enough, if you align Ask’s media spending (advertising dollars) with market share you see a pretty interesting trend. We’ll dive into this a bit more in a subsequent post.

Alas as we mentioned a few posts ago September was a sad month for many of us. The passing of Steve Irwin has been etched into the search logs of pretty much every search engine out there. Searches for the crocodile hunter cracked the top-10 on 3 of the 4 top engines in September.

Does anyone else out there still find it amusing how many people search for the exact URL they are trying to get to? Also, I wonder if there’s any heartburn in the executive suites over how popular it apparently is to search for a different search engine then the one being used to perform the search. Competitive engines regularly make it into the top-10 of each engine.

* Search market share includes web search only and is calculated based on unique queries within each session during the given month. A unique query is defined as unique user, search engine, and term with no double counting for repeat queries within a session by the same user. Compete tracks the 20 top search engines. For more information please contact Compete.

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