Google Search Share Back to 66% as Yahoo Swoons

Google gained search share, moving to 66.2 percent, according to comScore. Yahoo dropped to 14.1 percent while Microsoft edged up a notch to 15.2 percent.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) started 2012 on a high note in search, garnering 66.2 percent U.S. market share through January from 65.9 percent through December, according to comScore.

Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) share edged up, from 15.1 percent to 15.2 percent. Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), which is relying on Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) to power its search engine and search ads, continued its search share freefall.

Yahoo, struggling to find its way and retain relevancy under new CEO Scott Thompson, posted a 14.1 percent, share, down from 14.5 percent in December.

Google's share boost comes weeks after the company embarked on a couple of eyebrow-raising moves.

First, the company in January turned on its new personal search feature, "Search, plus your world." This service, SPYW for short, injects posts and photos from users€™ Google+ accounts, as well as Google+ brand suggestions, into their search results.

The company caught flak for this because the service is not opt-in, which is a problem for privacy groups even though search results are tailored to each individual.

SPYW also fails to aggregate content from Facebook and Twitter in the search results, giving some independent Web crusaders reason to rail against the company for excluding its rivals.

In an even more controversial move, Google said Jan. 24 that it would change its privacy policies.

Under the new policies, 60 of 70 Web services will be bucketed under an umbrella policy. Google will treat users of those services as one account holder. This includes Gmail, Search, YouTube and Google Maps. Google Wallet, Chrome and other services will retain their own privacy policies.

Google fielded complaints from Congress, Europe and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) over this approach.

EPIC went so far as to sue the Federal Trade Commission Feb. 8, compelling the agency to halt Google's privacy-policy changes before they go into effect March 1. EPIC argued that the privacy-policy changes violate the consent order the search engine entered into with the commission nearly a year ago.

Despite the controversy triggered by€”and the uncertainty swirling around€”these services, Google has managed to maintain its search share, even as Microsoft tries to chip away at its castle walls.