Google continued to fend off Yahoo and Microsoft Bing in July, commanding 65.8 percent of the U.S. search market share, according to comScore August 17.
Yet the share is still almost four times greater than Yahoo's market share, which is 17.1 percent, and six times that of Bing, now 11 percent.
The numbers reflect comScore's calculation of what the research calls "Explicit Core Search," which excludes slideshows and contextual links. ComScore's "Total Core Search" methodology counts the slideshows and contextual shortcuts Yahoo and Bing use to generate more search queries.
Users need only click on a slideshow once, but that single click triggers a series of Web pages to load automatically, with each slide counting as a click. Contextual links count as queries even when users only hover over words in news stories.
In Total Core Search, Google accounted for 61.6 percent of the market, compared with 20 percent for Yahoo and 12.6 percent for Bing.
Yahoo and Bing added slideshows and contextual shortcuts earlier this year, forcing comScore to offer different metrics, one that counts contextual queries and one that does not.
ComScore promised changes to its search-market methodology in June and delivered with Explicit Core Search and Total Core Search. Search Engine Land has the complete details from comScore here.
Jefferies and Company analyst Youssef Squali approved of the methodology distinction. He noted that Explicit Core Search only tracks searches in which users specifically entered queries to see search results, rather than entering a single query and getting a cascade of images and links, all counting as search queries.
"The new metric excludes searches in slideshows and in-text links, which made up for 21 percent and 19 percent of total core searches for Yahoo and Bing, respectively, in July," Squali wrote in a research note August 17. "We believe that this is a cleaner and more appropriate metric to reflect the underlying search usage."
Even so, Google did lose 40 basis points from June, matching Yahoo's gain. Could Yahoo-which is in the middle of transitioning its search platform to be powered by Bing-have stolen it from Google?
It remains to be seen whether Yahoo and Bing, which corral a combined 28 percent of the total U.S. search market, can leverage their combined search engine forces to fight Google.
While Yahoo appears to be on the upswing, Bing seems to have stalled in growth and even backslid a little. Bing went from 8 percent in June 2009 to 12.1 percent in June 2010, but is now notching 11 percent.
"The search share for Bing remained flat month-over-month at 11 percent, and roughly 60 basis points lower than March levels, indicating that Bing's momentum is perhaps slowing down," Squali observed. "That said, with Yahoo's share added in the [fourth quarter 2010], Bing should become the de-facto No. 2 search engine after Google, with 30 percent market share."