A new ranking shows that Google continues to be on top of the search
charts, ahead of rivals Yahoo and MSN.
In a snapshot of search engine use on the Internet, market researcher WebSideStory
on Tuesday said Google this month recorded an all-time high in search referrals
in the United States. On March 23, it accounted for 41 percent of all referrals,
up from 36 percent for a similar day in March 2003.
Yahoo took second place at 27 percent, down from 31 percent a year earlier,
while Microsoft's MSN placed third at just under 20 percent, up slightly from
the earlier recording period. The Yahoo figures, however, do not include
referrals from the Overture Services network, which Yahoo now owns.
Search referral is a term used to describe the visitor traffic that a search
site sends to other Web sites. This can include referrals resulting from paid
keywords, unpaid search results and banner ads on the search site. WebSideStory
said its survey sampled 25 million unique browsers on March 23 and that the
one-day results are indicative of search activity for the entire month.
"The main thrust is that the gap is widening" between Google and Yahoo, said
Geoff Johnston, an analyst at WebSideStory. "Yahoo's given up market share, but
Google isn't the only one stealing it. MSN is also making a move--they aren't
Johnston added that the picture is even brighter for Google in some countries
in Europe and Asia, where the company has as much as twice the market share that
it has in the United States.
The WebSideStory figures are only the latest to confirm Google's leading
status in the search field. Nielsen/NetRatings reported earlier this year that
in January, 39 percent of active Internet
surfers--or 59.3 million unique viewers--used Google to do searches, while
Yahoo and MSN attracted approximately 30 percent each.
The market researcher said that three years ago, Yahoo had a U.S. search
referral ranking of 37 percent, while Google came in at only 12 percent, behind
MSN's nearly 15 percent.
But Google's rivals aren't sitting still. Yahoo last week said it will spend
about US$575 million to acquire European e-commerce site
Kelkoo, its fourth major acquisition in a year and a half. Microsoft,
meanwhile, has aggressive plans for new
And Google itself is busy tinkering with its set of
products and services.
CNET News.com's Jonathan Skillings contributed to this report.