Google crushes competitors in search market share

Google Inc. held on to its commanding lead as the preferred search engine in the U.S. in May, processing almost 60% of all queries filed, way ahead of its two closest competitors, Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

Google nabbed 59.3% of search queries, followed by Yahoo in a very distant second place with 22% and Microsoft's MSN with 12.1%, market researcher Hitwise Pty. Ltd. said yesterday.

Google's continued stranglehold on the search market is significant considering that in recent years both Yahoo and Microsoft have invested heavily on developing and improving their search engine technology and accompanying search ad networks.

Microsoft and Yahoo officials strain to put on a happy face whenever they are confronted with Google's dominance. Both companies are fond of saying that search engine technology is still in its infancy and that consequently an opportunity exists to unseat Google as the leader.

Still, month after month, trackers of search engines show Google remains firmly perched at the top.

Compared with March 2006, the May figures from Hitwise show Google gaining 1 percentage point of share, Yahoo staying almost flat and Microsoft losing 1 percentage point.

The search segment is the largest of the fast-growing U.S. online ad market, accounting for 41% of revenue, or about $5.1 billion. Online advertising spending grew 30% in 2005 to $12.5 billion.