Google speeds ahead in search-engine race

While Google gained market share, Yahoo and MSN fell further behind.

In what has become a trend in recent months, Google Inc. in February continued to expand its share of search-engine queries in the U.S., establishing a lead of almost 15 percentage points over Yahoo Inc., according to ComScore Networks Inc.

Google processed 42.3% of search-engine queries in February, while Yahoo came in a distant second place with 27.6%. In February 2005, Yahoo seemed to be making a run at Google, with only 5 percentage points separating them.

The share of search-engine queries plays a direct role in the amount of paid-search advertising revenue these vendors are able to generate.

Paid-search advertising is a multibillion-dollar market. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) estimated this month that Internet ad revenue in the U.S. reached $12.5 billion in 2005. Although the group didn't break out that figure into segments, paid-search typically makes up about 40% of total online advertising. IAB plans to report final figures and more details next month.

In recent years, Yahoo has invested heavily in developing and refining its own search technology and in operating and growing its own paid-search ad network.

Microsoft Corp., which, like Yahoo, has invested in its own search-engine and paid-search ad network, came in third place and also saw its share shrink in February by almost 3 percentage points to 13.5%.

Google is clearly beating both of them in user popularity in recent months. What looked like a tight race in the first half of last year between Google and Yahoo seems to be unraveling.

The trend could already be seen in November of last year, when Google nabbed almost 40% of all searches in the U.S., more than 10 percentage points over Yahoo, according to ComScore.

Rounding out the top five search engines in February of this year were Time Warner Inc., which includes America Online Inc., in fourth place with 8%, down almost 1 percentage point; and IAC/InterActiveCorp's Ask.com, formerly Ask Jeeves, which took fifth place with 6%, an increase of 0.7 of a percentage point.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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