Google leads search, Yahoo wins portal wars

While Google is storming ahead of rivals in the search arena, it isn't faring so well in its non-core offerings, according to figures revealed on Monday.

Newly compiled US statistics from online traffic analysts at Hitwise suggest Google reigns supreme in terms of searches and seems to be increasing its lead. Based on surveying last week's internet usage, Google receives over 47 percent of search traffic, while Yahoo gets 16 percent and third-place MSN receives just 12 percent.

While Yahoo's dominance in search has waned considerably in recent years (only a few years ago Yahoo had 40 percent of searches), it is by no means out of the way in the web portal stakes. For example Yahoo's News & Media service garners a healthy 6.3 percent of news traffic while Google's 1.9 percent news share ranks fifth for news behind Yahoo, the Weather Channel (5.6 percent), MSNBC (4 percent), and CNN (3.95 percent).

Yahoo's mail service, Yahoo Mail, also leads the e-mail rankings, recording 42 percent of all visits to mail sites last week, followed by Microsoft's Hotmail with 23 percent. Somewhat surprisingly, new boy MySpace Mail received nearly 20 percent of all mail site visits with Google lagging at the back of the class with just a 2.5 percent share for its Gmail service.

More than half of all internet visits are to business and finance sites and in this category Yahoo Finance and MSN Money Central are way ahead with 35 percent and 13 percent, respectively. Google Finance lies 40 rankings behind leader Yahoo with only 0.29 percent.

Looking at maps online is a growth area of the internet. Mapquest is the segment leader with 56 percent of this traffic followed by Yahoo Maps at 21 percent. Google Maps comes a credible third place with 7.5 percent while MSN Virtual Earth gets 4.3 percent of armchair explorers, and Google Earth receives 2 percent.

The figures were posted on the blog site of Hitwise analyst Bill Tancer on Monday and have created a mass of speculation already. Commentators are suggesting that Google has received a lot of press over its non-search capabilities but users have not changed over from established portals such as MSN and Yahoo due to familiarity rather than cost. Based on comments from Google spokespersons in the US media the search giant does not seem fazed by its low figures in its non core area and expects growth in the future.