There is no doubt at this point that Google remains the #1 engine for core search in the U.S. as comScore reported in its May qSearch analysis but the search giant has been losing pace while Yahoo and Microsoft recorded increases in their market shares compared to figures from the previous month.
Google sites accounted for 63.7% of core U.S. searches in May, a 0.7 percentage point loss from 64.4% last month. Second and third were Yahoo and Microsoft sites with a 18.3% (up 0.6 percentage points from 17.7% in April) and a 12.1% (up 0.3 percentage points) market share, respectively. Ask Network came in fourth at 3.6% (down 0.1 percentage point) and the AOL network fifth at 2.3% (down 0.1 percentage point).
According to comScore, Yahoo and Microsoft, which have now joined forces in the Search Alliance, registered "gains due in part to the continued utilization of contextual search approaches that tie content and related search results together"
The figures provided by comScore include "partner searches and cross-channel searches but exclude searches for mapping, local directory, and user-generated video sites that are not on the core domain of the five search engines".
Out of the 15.9 billion searches conducted in the U.S. in May (3% rise from April), Google Sites grabbed 10.2 billion (up 2%), Yahoo Sites 2.9 billion (up 6%), Microsoft Sites 1.9 billion (up 6%). Ask Network accounted for 577 million (up just 1%) and AOL 361 million - a full 3% decline from April.
In terms of expanded searches, Google Sites was still #1 with 14.4 billion queries, Yahoo! Came in second with 3.0 billion queries and Microsoft Sites third with 2.0 billion searches. Bing accounted for 1.6 billion queries, up 4% from the previous month.
Amazon Sites recorded the biggest rise, up 14% to 280 million searches, while AOL Search experienced the sharpest market share loss of 4% to 290 million queries.
Commenting the recent evolution of search engines who are meshing their search activities with content, comScore's Cameron Meierhoefer said in a blog post: "The continued evolution of search and emerging innovations in how it is used to enhance user experience, calls for a thoughtful review of how we classify various types of searches, count them and report them."
While pledging continued transparency in its reports "because context-driven searches are sometimes monetized at different rates than traditional searches, we believe it is important to provide the marketplace with visibility into how they are contributing to search share," the research firm stated its intention to make adjustments to its measurement methods to better account for the new parameters of the search landscape. The changes are to be expected this summer, with the release of July data in the first half of August.
How will the Search Alliance impact the landscape? The floor is yours... let us know your thoughts.