Google's search share surges, everyone else's drops in just one month

At this rate, the time is within sight when the question of whether combining the smaller players in the search space to make one bigger one, may become moot.

According to comScore's report of US search engine traffic released this morning, Google's share of what are called "core searches" -- everyday queries from the main page, from US-based homes, offices, and universities -- rose 1.8% in a single month, leaping over the 60% milestone from March to April.

Every other player in the search space lost ground, with Yahoo bleeding the worst. ComScore now believes Yahoo was responsible for handling just 20.4% of the nation's regular core searches in April, falling by 0.9% over March to less than one-third of Google's 61.6%. Microsoft's MSN / Windows Live Search continued their steady decline, dropping 0.3% in April to just 9.1% of the nation's core searches.

How many searches are we talking about, quantitatively? Surprisingly, the total number of core searches actually fell overall in April, comScore estimates, by 2% to 10.6 billion. Google handled 6.5 billion of those, Yahoo handled under 2.2 billion, and MSN handling under 1 billion.

Searches are the "doorbusters" in the Internet economy, that lead users into becoming advertising clients and customers, not just for themselves but for their partners. Think of Google, Yahoo, and MSN / Windows Live as the shopping malls of the Internet community. In light of that analogy, comScore's search numbers represent the major search sites' ability to gather customers in the front door.

In a recent BetaNews interview with Jarvis Coffin, CEO of Burst Media -- an online advertising platform provider that competes against Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google for ad clients, as opposed to search -- we discussed the problems facing Yahoo and Microsoft with regard to taking the geography and the location they've got, and maximizing its value to attract more customers.

With regard to Yahoo, Coffin told us, "They're working on a problem that's very unique to them. That is, they've got a tremendous number of users that flow through their pages, and they're very data-centric. With their ad exchanges and their behavior targeting, to me, they're all working on a macro problem, which is: How do we maximize -- to use a word that they probably talk about in their conference rooms -- the yield on every impression that flows through our empire?

"And that's a very 'portal' way to think, the next step in their lives," Coffin continued. "They threw [former Yahoo CEO] Terry Semel out when they realized that, after spending countless amounts of time and money building this entertainment portal and getting some great stuff for it, at the end of the day, it was still only 10 - 20% of the core value, and there were just all of these pages and impressions that existed in the background below these top-levels, and they were going for nothing."

For Microsoft, Coffin believed the problem was bigger but at the same time more fundamental: starting a new monetization formula that actually works.

"I think Microsoft would be better off thinking about, how do they get in the business of monetizing, selling ads, trying to connect their advertisers and their franchise against consumers and what they're doing online," he told BetaNews. Since the time of our interview, Microsoft has actually started addressing that very problem, starting with its Live Search Cashback program announced Wednesday, which may pass as much as 100% of Microsoft's revenue from cost-per-action shopping searches back to the consumer.

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