Hitwise data for September 2007 shows that Yahoo! served only 4.91 per cent of all Internet searches in the UK, Microsoft served 3.95 per cent and Ask.com got 3.55 per cent. There is only one clear leader in the UK search market, and its lead is growing by the day.
Google now accounts for more than 85 per cent of all searches in the country. Their market share is still growing, and it continues to do so at the expense of all three of its competitors.
The chart below shows the latest UK Internet search data from Hitwise for the four week period ending 20 September 2007 compared to four weeks ending 26 May 2007:
Source: Hitwise UK
Ask, Microsoft and Yahoo! have clearly lost market share to Google, in spite of each of their individual efforts to win UK search clicks. Ask has invested in an ongoing television and billboard advertising campaign in the UK. Yahoo! has tried to generate a lot of publicity around their Panama platform, and Microsoft has rebranded and tried various half-hearted and wholly unsuccessful tactics.
Google’s lead has gone beyond the point where quality alone will win back users. Ask’s current search interface is far superior to Google’s Universal Search. It still has not won back any market share, partly due to poor quality of the main text results, but also because hardly anyone has even bothered to try using their improved interface.
Similarly, an improved advertiser experience alone will not win search traffic away from Google. Microsoft and Yahoo! should focus on winning search traffic before trying to woo advertisers.