By Claire West

Experian Hitwise’s latest Search Engine and Social Analysis shows that June was Google’s best month of 2011, as the search giant accounted for over 92% of all searches conducted by UK Internet users during the month. Top competitors Bing and Yahoo! both lost market share during June, leaving Google in its most dominant position this year.

Google Sites saw a 1.50% increase in market share of searches in the UK in June, whilst Microsoft Sites lost 1.38% during the month. Yahoo! Sites meanwhile also lost market share, although their decline was a more modest 0.11%.

Year-on-year, Google had also made gains, whilst Microsoft dipped from 3.12% of all UK Internet searches in June 2010 to 2.88% in June 2011. Ask Sites had a second consecutive month of growth in June, whilst other search engines lost market share of searches between May and June.

“Google has certainly been dominant in search for the last ten years but even by Google’s high standards, to capture 92% of the UK search market is quite an achievement,”
commented Robin Goad, Research Director of Experian Hitwise.

“In other markets like the US the search distribution is much more even, but in the UK Google has woven itself into the core fabric of Internet usage so much that other players are struggling to keep up. The temptation for marketers when they see stats like this is to optimise purely for Google at the expense of all other search engines.

However, there remain some excellent opportunities that exist by using Bing, Yahoo! and others, as these search engines can attract niche audiences that could be perfect to attract a brand’s core demographics. The interesting challenge for the future is how other search engines will react to compete with Google’s ever expanding list of propositions, including the new Google+ social platform.”

Year-on-year YouTube also exhibited the fastest growth in market share, going from 1 in 6 visits to all social networks a year ago to 1 in 5 visits to all social networks today.

Robin Goad added: “Much like Google, Facebook has established itself as the clear market leader in its field and continues to maintain that position. There has been a lot of rumourmongering recently that the end is nigh for Facebook, but as this month’s data shows, the UK’s most popular social network has overcome a small dip in performance and still accounts for nearly 54% of all UK visits to a social network.

Facebook is still flourishing, and with over 750 million active users worldwide is by far the most powerful social network in the world. Our research has revealed that for every one fan acquired on Facebook, retailers can expect to receive 20 additional visits to their website over the course of a year, so investing in Facebook has real tangible benefits to website traffic, and hence online sales.”

YouTube was the fastest growing social network for the fourth consecutive month, with more than twice as much growth as Facebook during June.