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Search engine usage in the UK, September 2005

Figures from Hitwise, the online traffic measurement company, report on search engine usage and market share in the UK during September 2005. This continues to show the dominance of the 4 main search properties in this country, and in particular, Google's overwhelming superiority being maintained. The report also tracks the usage of different vertical search options, such as news, image and local search.

This latest Hitwise UK Online Search Report indicates the market dominance of the 4 leading UK search engines - namely Google, MSN Search, Yahoo! Search and Ask Jeeves - which between them powered 81% of all search traffic in this country during September. What's more, when the UK and the .com properties of these 4 sites are combined together, this market share climbs to 94%, confirming the massive superiority of these search tools.

Within this group, Google continues to dominate the market, with the UK site powering 63% of all Internet searches during the month and 70% if you also include the .com version as well. This figure also illustrates how Google's UK domain is now the primary search tool since the .com site redirected UK users to this specific regional option. Other statistics show that the volume of searches being powered by Google increased by 77% year-on-year, which is partly expected to be due to the increasing use of the Google Toolbar. However, MSN Search's volume of searches increased by 892% in the same period, which may reflect the launch of their own search engine and the accompanying advertising since the start of this year.

The Hitwise report also includes some interesting statistics on a number of vertical search engines that are available. For example, Yahoo!'s UK and Ireland news service was the most popular news search site in September, attracting 30% of visits. The data captured by Hitwise also indicated that these users were more likely to remain within the Yahoo! network than those who visited Google's news search service, who in contrast were more likely to leave the site and visit the main print media websites that generated the stories.

With regard to the image search engines available, searches here increased by 12% compared to the same time last year and the main search engines also dominate this activity, with Google UK's image search attracting 85% of all search visits for this type of information.

The other main vertical search category that was analysed by Hitwise was local search, which also grew by 13% year-on-year. Yell.com remained the most popular vertical search site, a position that it has held for the past 15 months, attracting 64% of the market share of local search visits although its share is declining with Local.co.uk and ThomsonLocal.com taking over 5% share each. Hitwise also notes that the Google Local search has not had much impact yet, although this is growing, following its integration with Google Maps.

One other interesting trend that is reported within this Hitwise report is that data from visits and usage of search sites indicated that Google is primarily used for search activities, whereas Yahoo! is primarily used for its portal information and e-mail services, whilst MSN is primarily used for communications through e-mail, chat and groups.

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