Microsoft Bing Enjoys June Traffic Burst as It Seeks to Catch Google

StatCounter says Microsoft's Bing search engine grabbed more than 8 percent share of U.S. Web searches in June. The news could be an anomaly or a sign that Bing is luring users from Google, Yahoo and other search engines. Microsoft has bet big on Bing as it seeks to grab a piece of Google's massive Web services user base.

Buoyed by strong word of mouth and intensive marketing, Microsoft's Bing search engine gained 8.23 percent of U.S. Web searches in June, Web data researcher StatCounter said July 1.

That's up from 7.86 percent in May and 7.21 percent in April, when Microsoft's search engine was known as Live Search, said StatCounter researchers, who base their conclusions on 4 billion page loads per month monitored through a network of Websites.

Bing launched June 3, boasting vastly improved design and higher quality search relevancy than its predecessor, which struggled to make any inroads versus search giant Google and No. 2 player Yahoo.

Every search engine is vying to make a dent in Google's massive search share, which Internet stat counting firms peg between 65 and 80 percent. StatCounter said Bing's popularity, helped by an $80 million marketing campaign, likely contributed to Google dipping to 78.48 percent from 78.72 percent for June.

The trick will be to see if Bing's burst is an anomaly or a growing trend. New Web applications from major companies launch with a lot of buzz and tend to do well in the first few weeks or even months of their lives before the growth levels off in favor of incumbents.

For example, Google launched its Chrome Web browser last September and quickly grabbed a 2 percent share of the market, which includes Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, before petering out to between 1.5 to 1.8 percent of the market.

StatCounter said Bing's share peaked in its first full week of existence, grabbing 9.21 percent of the search engine market. It then dropped off in the middle of June before storming back to 8.45 percent in the last week of the month.

The question remains whether Bing can succeed in luring enough users from Google, which has rolled out e-mail, word processing and spreadsheet applications to keep users coming to its Website instead of going to Microsoft or other Web services providers.

Web design firm Catalyst Group last week announced results of a small study in which eight out of 12 users ultimately chose to stick with Google despite the fact that Bing beat Google in design and search results.

Though just a tiny sampling of the Internet population, the study points to a possible alarming trend for Microsoft: That Web searchers who have been using Google for years have become comfortable with the site and are loathe to leave it.

If such a notion becomes a trend, the outlook for Bing does not bode well. Several users blasted the study's test scope as being insignificant and too trivial to matter. Others agreed with the findings, pledging their allegiance to Google after trying Bing and finding the design too distracting.