‘Shenanigans’ Helps Yahoo Gain Search Share in April

Changes at both Yahoo and Google make for a murky picture

By on May 11th, 2010 14:21 GMT
The search share numbers for April in the US from comScore are out and they paint an interesting picture. For the first time in many months, Yahoo has actually risen in market share and by almost one percent point. That sounds impressive, but people are calling shenanigans on Yahoo’s practices. The big rise in search traffic isn’t due to people actually doing more searches on Yahoo, but rather to an interface change that adds automatic searches to pages on Yahoo News or Yahoo Finance.

Google reigned supreme, as usual, but its slice of the core market share was slightly down, from 65.1 percent to 64.4 percent. It’s hardly a cause for concern, but a loss is a loss. However, there are also problems with this number.

Google rolled out a massive redesign last week across all the localized and specialized versions of its search engine. The change also affected the way comScore counted the searches resulting in a smaller volume of queries being counted, but not necessarily conducted. Adjusting for that, Google’s market share actually went up in April.

Yahoo’s story is a bit different. It recently began to conduct automatic searches and integrate them in several places across its many proprieties. These searches are not initiated by the users, so they shouldn’t really count towards the search market share. Ignoring the changes, 17.7 percent of all the searches on the top five search engines in the US were conducted on Yahoo. Adjusting for the changes, though, Yahoo still lost a little market share.

With Bing, it’s the same thing. The Microsoft search engine grew in April, getting 11.8 percent of the searches, up from 11.7 in March. This growth, though, is based on the same, somewhat, false premises as Yahoo’s, so there’s not that much behind it. When adjusting for the changes the other two main search engines have implemented, Bing also saw a small decrease in market share last month.

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