Google speeds ahead in search engine race

Google keeps widening its lead over Yahoo in the search engine market.

In what has become a trend in recent months, Google in February continued to expand its share of search-engine queries in the US, establishing a lead of almost 15 percentage points over Yahoo, according to comScore Networks.

Google processed 42.3 percent of search-engine queries in February, while Yahoo came in a distant second place with 27.6 percent. In February 2005, Yahoo seemed to be making a run at Google, with only 5 percentage points separating them.

The share of search engine queries plays a direct role in the amount of paid search advertising revenue these vendors are able to generate.

Paid search advertising is a multibillion dollar market. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) estimated this month that US Internet ad revenue reached US$12.5 billion in 2005. Although the group didn't break out that figure into segments, typically paid search makes up about 40 percent of total online advertising. IAB plans to report final figures and more details next month.

Yahoo in recent years has invested heavily in developing and refining its own search technology and in operating and growing its own paid search ad network.

Microsoft, which, like Yahoo, has invested in its own search engine and paid search ad network, came in third place and also saw its share shrink in February by almost 3 percentage points to 13.5 percent.

Google is clearly beating both of them in user popularity in recent months. What looked like a tight race in the first half of last year between Google and Yahoo seems to be unraveling.

The trend could already be seen in November of last year, when Google nabbed almost 40 percent of all searches in the US, more than 10 percentage points over Yahoo, according to comScore.

Rounding out the top five search engines in February of this year were Time Warner, which includes America Online, in fourth place with 8 percent, down almost 1 percentage point, and IAC/ InterActiveCorp's Ask.com, formerly Ask Jeeves, which took fifth place with 6 percent, an increase of 0.7 of a percentage point.

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