November Search Market Share Update: Not quite the usual story

November is an odd time of the year.  In much of the US it’s starting to get cold and dreary, there tends to be more rain at least in the New England area, and the real cold weather is right around the corner.  November brought us odd times in search as well, with Halloween costume decisions far behind and no need to search for the Turkey recipe since mom always cooks it the same way.  Search volumes overall declined by about 500 million queries in November.  November topped out at just shy of 12.5 billion queries.  Some interesting things happened among the top engine shares considering nearly everyone lost volume.

Yahoo! was the only real gainer from October to November.  Despite a decline in volume Yahoo! managed to stem the tide a bit and increase share by almost ½ of a point.  Despite the slight gains in November Yahoo! still remained far behind the good old days of 18% share back in 2008 and shares in the 20%+ range prior.  Yahoo! also saw sponsored referrals jump sharply as a percentage of total search referrals.  Yahoo! sponsored clicks jumped a whopping 1.4ppts from October to November.  For a company that doesn’t care about search that’s an interesting trend.

Google on the other hand saw a fairly substantial loss in search volume, with volume falling off over 4% m-o-m.  The drop in volume lead to a ½ point loss in share.  Interestingly enough in the same month, much like the other big guys, Google saw sponsored search clicks jump nearly a full point from 6.2% to 7.1% of clicks being on sponsored links.  Year over year, Google still remains the only engine above water relative to search share.

On the Bing side of the search landscape we saw essentially a flat line.  With volume down very slightly, share held steady, hovering just above the 9% mark.  MSFT managed to bump the bottom-line for Bing solidly as well with sponsored clicks increasing by 1.2ppts from October.

As is typical this time of year, Yahoo!, Google, and Bing increased sponsored referral rates from October to November.  Comparing to November 2008, Bing saw a full 3.3ppts increase, Yahoo! edged up .7ppts, but Google declined .8ppts.  As the Christmas season falls into swing, are retail brands recognizing the importance of diversifying through a multi search platform campaign?

The major takeaways for November 2009 "¦.

  • Google, Yahoo! and Bing all saw increases in sponsored clicks "¦ holiday retailers starting to hit the search marketing throttle perhaps?
  • Google share dropped roughly a ½ point on 4.3% declines in volume m-o-m
  • Yahoo! pushed market share up a ½ point despite volume sliding a little over 1%
  • Bing held market share steady at 9.2% on a 3.2% decline in volume m-o-m
  • Ask volume and share held more or less steady around the 250 million and 2% range
  • AOL share held steady on sharp declines in volume "¦ will we see any AOL movement in the coming months now that Tim has loosened Time Warner’s grip again? We shall see.

* 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.