Latest NetRatings Stats Show Status Quo With Search Engines

I always warn not to worry much about month-to-month changes with search
popularity stats. The now updated search engine popularity stats I’ve
posted
from
Nielsen//NetRatings
illustrate why. I’ve added data for the past four months, and it shows no real
major changes over that period. Indeed, you can look at all the data going back
to the beginning of last year. It shows things have pretty much not changed —
good news for Yahoo, which is
happy to
maintain the status quo.

Here’s one of the two charts from my stats page, which shows the share of
searches each search engine was estimated to have among US searchers in a
particular month (the
page
explains more):

What do we see? Yahoo’s gained a point and Google’s lost one since the
beginning of the year. AOL’s gained two points and MSN’s lost two over the same
period.

However, there’s a danger in picking any two months and comparing. What if
I’d started the chart off in February, rather than January? Then Google stayed
the same, Yahoo gained two points, AOL one, and MSN was the big loser with a
three point loss.

Maybe you should compare the same months from year to year, November 2004 to
November 2005, for example. I still have problems with that. Perhaps one search
engine had a new feature or was doing a lot of promotions in a particular month.
A month-to-month comparison would still be misleading, in that case.

My preference is to just look at the lines over time. They show me Yahoo’s
got very slight growth overall, while the rest have some slight decline overall.
But none of these changes are particularly dramatic to say that anyone’s winning
anything, which is why I still feel it’s status quo.

For the number inclined, here’s the average monthly share for the period of
January 2005 through November 2005:

  • Google: 46.7%
  • Yahoo: 22.0%
  • MSN: 12.4%
  • AOL: 5.8%

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