The holidays were kind to Google and AOL but not so for the rest of the pack

It appears that the perennial holder of the fifth spot, AOL, may have turned the corner back in August. AOL search market share has improved for the past 4 months. Unfortunately for AOL there’s a pretty substantial climb to get back to year ago market share levels. Perhaps it’s time to dust off those acquisition/sale rumors "¦ Yahoo? Microsoft? "¦ Anyone?

The only other positive story in December is really just more of the same. That steady monotonous grind you hear is Google continuing to crawl up the market share hill. With each point gain in market share that Google tacks on, common wisdom would have it that it should get harder and harder for Google to continue its growth. Oddly enough the current trajectory hasn’t shown much in the way of diminishing returns. This is despite the dooms day cries of many a search and internet pundit. We shall see.

The holidays certainly were none too kind to the rest of the pack. The biggest "month-over-month slide prize" goes to Ask who as you may remember we’ve been following with some curiosity regarding their offline efforts. Ask just barely managed to eek out a December 2006 market share higher then that of December 2005. After the big slide in November, Yahoo again tipped downward losing only a slight amount of market share but losing none the less. Does anyone think Yahoo’s going to put any effort into building market share after they redeploy post Panama launch? I hope so "¦ for Yahoo’s sake.

Search is often touted as being one of the best measures of traffic in and of itself. We put that to the test with out top-10 list this month. For this search report we’ve decided to take a look at the online retail "searchscape" having just put the holiday season behind us. Looking at the top-10 retailers searched for on the major engines is pretty interesting. In the chart below we’ve ranked the top ten retailer related searches**. They are ranked in relative order according to where they appear in the overall list of search terms used in the market on each of the engines. Then we compared that to the relative ranking according to each associated sites unique visitors.

For the most part search term use tends to correlate with overall traffic. There are a couple of notable differences however. Both Amazon and Sears did not fair as well in search results as they do in overall traffic. This raises a number of interesting questions. How are Amazon and Sears getting more traffic then their search query occurrences might suggest? Perhaps a topic for another day "¦

* 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.
** Includes all standard variations ex. toys r us = toysrus,, toys r, toys-r-us, and toys r us

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