Microsoft's Bing may be trying its darndest to knock Google Search down a peg or two, but so far it's not having much success. According to a Nielsen Co. report released Wednesday, Google's share of U.S. search queries rose again last month, while competitors Yahoo Search and Bing fell slightly.
Google maintained its overwhelming dominance of the U.S. search market, handling 67.3 percent of all search queries (click chart at left to enlarge). Yahoo was a distant second with 14.4 percent, and Bing was third with just under 10 percent.
Not only has Google remained the 800-pound gorilla of the search set, but its girth appears to be growing. The search giant's December share was up nearly two points from 65.4 percent in November. And its share has soared more than 6 percent since July, Nielsen says.
The news must come as a big disappointment to Microsoft, which worked diligently during the 2009 holiday season to promote Bing as the best search site for shoppers. Its Cashback program even offered money back to shoppers who used Bing to buy items.
Yahoo, which these days seems in a perpetual state of disarray, recently announced a search and advertising agreement with Microsoft, a pact designed to help both companies compete with Google. Under the terms of the deal, Bing provides Yahoo's search results, while Yahoo supplies search-advertising services for both firms.
Bing: Don't You Want Me?
Bing continues to innovate, piling on new features that draw headlines--but apparently not a lot of new users. There's the addition of Wolfram Alpha search results, Web site previews within results, integration with Facebook and Twitter, and slick new mapping tools. Of course, Google has the resources to match or surpass Bing's ambitions, and it certainly hasn't been sitting idle in the search engine arms race.
Then there's the problem of inertia. Personally, I check out Bing whenever the search engine adds a new feature. I'm often impressed…and then I return to Google. Why? Because I can't see a compelling reason to switch. Bing may be good, but my brain is hardwired to use Google.
And that's the biggest problem facing Google's competitors: We're creatures of habit. And has habits go, Google is one that's hard to break.