With only 28 days, February is typically a low-query month for the leading search engines. This year proved no exception, with query volumes dipping across the board, despite searcher interest in the Oscars and Valentine’s Day.
One interesting result of this dip in query volume was that it actually improved Google‘s market share. So while Google’s query volume fell by 1%, its market share actually rose 2.2pts. That move effectively reversed a long term trend we’ve seen with Google’s market share over the past 6 months. Since August 2008, Google’s market share has hovered at 70%. Last month, it hit 72.4%.
While Google benefitted from a down month in its industry, others did not fare so well.
Yahoo! lost 1.5pts market share on 11.6% decline in query volume. It hit a new market share low of 17.8% last month.
MSN/Live also declined 0.4pts and hit a market share low of 6.3% of search queries. Factoring in Club Live, MSN fared somewhat better but still lost share.
Ask also lost both query volume and market share. For the past 6 months, Ask’s share has hovered around 2.5%.
In February, Ask managed to increase Sponsored Referrals, or the rate of referrals that drive advertising revenue, by 46% to 6.2% of all referrals. That brought Ask in line with Google and Yahoo!, which have maintained Sponsored Referrals at 6 — 9% over the past year.
The key points for February, 2009 (excluding Club Live from the market)"¦
- Google query volume dipped 1% but market share actually rose to 72.4% on a down market, reversing a share slowdown.
- Yahoo! fell to 17.8% market share, a new low. Query volume also declined due to the shortened month.
- MSN/Live also fell to a new low of 6.3% market share, with a similar query decline.
- Ask maintained 2.3% share, but Sponsored Referrals rose to a healthy 6.2%.
- AOL held on with 0.8% share. We’ll see if new CEO Tim Armstrong can bring some of that Google magic.
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*Search market share includes web search only for the Adult US Online Population and is calculated based on unique queries within each session during the given month.