It’s very difficult to get consistent figures on who owns search. After all, what do we include? All page visits, or only ones that result in searches? Each search as its own instance, or each set from a unique IP in a day as being the same? From every platform, or just desktops? From the U.S., or from around the globe? As you see all these variables, it should be quire evident why current numbers have such a dramatic spread. Still, at least two things are clear. First, Google is still dominant in search. Second, that Microsoft’s search properties are starting to threaten that dominance.
Microsoft has been on the rise nearly since Bing was launched in 2009, but the most notable move forward took place in August of last year, when Microsoft partnered with Yahoo. Microsoft currently runs the Yahoo search algorithm (in fact, the Bing algorithm is just used on all Yahoo properties) and all search advertisements, splitting revenue with their former competitor.
Late last year, Microsoft’s properties reached 25% of search share, according to some figures, encroaching on Google’s territory; prior to that point Google had over a 70% search share, but were pushing to the high sixties in ownership percentage thanks largely to Microsoft’s growth in this arena. However, Microsoft hasn’t slowed down, pushing hard with advertising efforts – with special focus on mobile platforms and pairing the service with Internet Explorer 9 – and extra features. And it’s showing.
Microsoft’s properties, according to Hitwise, have now breached 30%, and Google has dropped down to roughly 64% of search share. The move up to 30% shows a huge boost from February’s statistics; in March Bing’s share grew six percent, while Yahoo’s grew five percent. Google’s total share, meanwhile, declined about two percent in that same period.
While it’s impossible to blame a single element of the equation for the way the tides are currently pulling, it’s clear that Bing’s social features – many of which Google is now trying to integrate as well – are at least a portion of their formula for success. Both Microsoft and Google are stepping up their game as they fight to meet the needs to 21st-century consumers.