At the time of writing, there are three big search systems dominating the search space: Google, Yahoo! and MSN. Google has been the undeniable leader in the industry for the past few years and it was only recently that competitors like Yahoo! and Microsoft took action to grab some of Google’s market share. In February 2004, Yahoo switched to its own search system and stopped using Google’s results on its site, and about a year later, February 2005, Microsoft officially launched a search system on its MSN portal (Hu, Olsen 2004, Microsoft 2005).
In the chart below, there is a breakdown of percentage shares of total searches in the United States for December 2004, according to a study by comScore Media Metrix (Sullivan 2005). This chart demonstrates which search sites are used most for searching the Internet.
As can be seen in the chart, Google and Yahoo! are the top two search sites before competitors MSN and AOL. However, this chart only shows total searches on the web site or network of websites of the search engines. For example, Yahoo!’s 32 percent comprises searches on its search network including Yahoo.com, AltaVista, AllTheWeb and Overture. Google’s 35 percent, on the other hand, includes searches on Google properties such as Google.com and Google Image Search.
Since the above chart does not take into consideration the result feeds of the search systems, another chart is needed to display the share of searches by search systems (Figure 1.4).
As can be seen in the chart, Google’s share is almost half of the total searches in the United States, when search feeds to such search networks as AOL and Excite Network are included in the calculations. Outside of the United States, MSN and Google have a strong foothold in European countries, the latest statistics being from October 2003 (Sullivan 2003b). General consensus in webmaster forums, such as WebmasterWorld (http://www.webmasterworld.com/) is that Google currently dominates most search markets, though no recent official statistics exist.