Microsoft sites are #2 on the Web, just behind Google. So why does Google still dominate?

By Preston Gralla

New figures show that Microsoft sites are the second most popular on the Web with 175 million unique visitors in November, trailing Google slightly, which had 186 million visitors. So why is Google so far ahead overall in the Internet race?

The latest figures are from comScore, which said that Yahoo came in third with 174 million visitors, and Facebook number four with 166 million. Rounding out the top five was Amazon, with nearly 113 million.

Those numbers mean that Microsoft is only about six percent behind Google when it comes to total Web visitors. So one would assume that the race between Microsoft and Google for Internet dominance is a close one.

Of course it's not. Those numbers only report on the number of unique visitors to all of Google's sites or all of Microsoft's sites, and not what they do once they get there. And that's where Google is far ahead.

Microsoft owns Bing, of course, but also many other sites as well, including the Windows Live collection of services such as Hotmail, the MSN portal, and SkyDrive among many others.

Google also owns a number of sites, but most visitors head to the Google search site. And that's where Google outpaces Microsoft. People tend to spend a lot of time searching Google, which means plenty of page views for each visit. The same doesn't hold true for the MSN portal or SkyDrive. So one visitor to a Google site is more valuable than one visitor to a Microsoft site, although likely of similar value to a visitor to Bing.

In addition to that, Google can sell highly targeted ads, based on the terms people are searching for. That means they can charge a premium for their ads. That puts Google even further ahead of Microsoft overall.

So don't assume that just because Microsoft is close to Google in the total number of visitors that it's also close to Google when it comes to Internet dominance. It still has a long way to go.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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