Capture Clients: Hitwise Releases Data on Top Search Engines and Trends

Want to know who is using which search engine, and the statistics of that use? Demographic information on search engine use has recently been released by Hitwise which may help you to better target your Internet marketing efforts.

Hitwise, leading provider of online competitive intelligence services for over 160 industries, recently released their comprehensive report on search engine statistics.

Who are the top three? Hitwise says the top three search engines are Google, Yahoo! Search, and MSN Search and these three comprise 5.5% of all United States Internet visits. Recently, only Google shows a substantial gain (of 30.9%) in this respective proportion, whereas Yahoo! gained only 2.4% while MSN suffered a 15.4% loss.

What are their strengths? MSN logged a slight advantage over Google and Yahoo! for the areas of Shopping and Classifieds, Business and Finance, and Travel. However, the highest percentage MSN downstream (the website visited immediately after going to MSN) was Google. According to Hitwise, this fact “may be an indication of user dissatisfaction with MSN Search results” causing visitors to then seek Google.

Yahoo led the entertainment industry category, while the largest lead over the other two (more than 2%) was enjoyed by Google in the education category. Google also leads in the news and media category.

How do visitors find the engines? According to Hitwise’s clickstream analysis of each (for the week ending May 15, 2004) Yahoo! and MSN receive 70% and 58% of their referrals from their main parent portals respectively, whereas the highest portal for Google (eBay) represents only 3.27% of traffic —- making Google dramatically more independent of any singular portal product(s).


Who Uses the Search Engines

  • Gender: Google visitors are predominantly men, whereas Yahoo! and MSN users are more often women.
  • Age Range: Yahoo! visitors are most often 25-34, whereas Google and MSN visitors are most often 35-44.
  • Income Level: Yahoo! and MSN visitors are most often in the $30-60K income bracket, whereas the highest percentage of Google visitors pull down $60-$100K annually.

Additionally, Google has enjoyed a 21.4% increase in market-share from the nearly 2000 websites tracked and studied by Hitwise in the search engines and directories categories and enjoys a net gain of visitors from both Yahoo! and MSN search engines.

Vertical searches

The Hitwise report also indicates the vertical searches (those sites specializing in a search for products or services) are experiencing a boom, even as the referrals to these sites from search engines decline. Thus, visitors are going directly to these vertical search engines, or are finding them by means other than traditional search engines.

How does this help you?

If you are marketing your services to a particular demographic, you now have the most recent information to determine which of the search engines you should target. You now know how the visitors are getting to the search engines and what they are most often seeking from each.

Given this information, you can tailor your Internet marketing to better access your preferred clients and markets.

Note: Information compiled from data gathered by from August 2003 to April 2004 and is quoted with permission.

© Copyright 2004 by Angela Allen Parker of Wicked Wordcraft


This article first appeared in the July 2004 issue of the IVAACast – official newsletter of the International Virtual Assistants Association.