Google’s US search market share increases, but the rules changedPosted on October 15th, 2010 at 08:47 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge
Last month I wrote about Bing stealing Yahoo search market share, and explained why that didn’t mean much: as of August 24, the Bing engine effectively replaced the Yahoo search engine, so even if you see Yahoo on the screen, the results and the marketing oomph go to Microsoft.
This month, comScore reports an important change. According to their just-released report, Google’s U.S. market share went up from 65.4% in August to 66.1% in September. At the same time, Bing/Yahoo declined from 28.5 to 27.9%.
While the numbers seem impressive, you have to take them with more than a dash of salt. comScore changed the way it counts searches, in response to Google’s new Instant Search technology (which some wags note isn’t all that new, but I digress).
As Cameron Meierhofer on the comScore blog explains,
[T]he comScore panel provides visibility into all events that a user is conducting and all the HTTP calls associated with the user’s actions. Based on this insight, we have developed a priority scoring system that allows us to identify search results with explicit user action and interstitial results with a sufficiently long pause to suggest some level of implicit engagement.
If that sounds like a situation just begging to mess up search site usage scores, you’re right. In the end, comScore punted, assigning an arbitrary time-out period of three seconds, “Query result pages without explicit user action, but with a pause of at least 3 seconds, are considered as indicating â€˜implicit’ engagement and will count towards Total Core Search.”
As a dyed-in-the-wool curmudgeon, I have to wonder out loud if comScore chose that three second threshhold before or after they saw the statistics for September.
Any way, it’s a new race from this point on, and it’ll be interesting to see how Google and Microsoft fare. We won’t really be able to compare apples to apples until the October results are out.
And, of course, the really important numbers in the long run are for mobile search. But that’s another story.