Bing's Market Share Dips in April, Says Hitwise

Bing's U.S. market share dipped slightly between March and April, according to new numbers by Experian Hitwise. Meanwhile, Google saw slight gains during the month, and Yahoo declined. However, Bing continued to demonstrate strong year-over-year gains in vertical categories such as health, travel, automotive and shopping, suggesting that Microsoft's focus on that area is paying off. Google continues to hold the highest percentage of overall search.

Microsoft's Bing search engine saw its U.S. market share dip from 9.62 percent to 9.43 percent in the period between March and April 2010, according to Experian Hitwise. However, Bing also saw continued strong growth in verticals, reflecting on a strategy that focuses on targeted search categories such as shopping in lieu of traditional keyword search.

Google gained incremental market share between March and April 2010, climbing from 69.97 percent to 71.40 percent. During the same time period, Yahoo declined from 15.04 to 14.96 percent, while placed fourth in the research firm's survey-plunged from 3.44 percent to 2.18 percent.

According to a press release from Experian Hitwise, "the remaining 78 search engines in the Hitwise Search Engine Analysis Tool accounted for 2.03 percent of U.S. searches."

While Google ruled the roost in terms of overall searches, Bing experienced strong gains in a number of vertical industry categories. The percentage of U.S. upstream traffic sent from Bing to shopping Websites increased 100 percent year over year; for health, it increased 105 percent; for travel, 71 percent; for automotive, 95 percent. By contrast, Google experienced lesser gains in those categories-15 percent year over year for shopping, -6 percent for health, 6 percent for travel and 11 percent for automotive-but still pulled in a higher overall number of searches.

A full breakdown of the numbers can be found here.

In March, Bing Director Stefan Weitz suggested that the search engine was focused on claiming market share in nontraditional areas such as event-driven tasks and commercial queries. Features such as the Bing's homepage tab, which allow searches to be compartmentalized by subjects such as travel or shopping, were key to that strategy.

Search, Weitz insisted, is "not a zero sum game," and user behavior is the ultimate arbiter of Bing's road map going forward: "As we look at how people are using the Web itself and how the Web is changing, we think we can expand that which people do with these engines. We can grow the overall pie, the overall number of searches that are happening across the Web."

More interesting, though, was how Weitz seemed to cede traditional keyword search to Google.

"People are happy with keyword-based search," Weitz told eWEEK. "People are creatures of habit, and they're fairly happy with Google's keyword search today, and they think it works well and there's no reason for them to look around."