"Search engines continue to be the primary tool people use to navigate the Web," said Jason Levin, analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings. "With the big search players having recently updated their search capabilities, Internet users should expect to find even better search results from the major search engines in the near future."
Last week, Yahoo! launched its search capability, a mix of technologies built with assets accrued from its acquisitions of Overture Services, Inktomi, and others.
The top five search venues in January were Google (59 million visitors), Yahoo! Search (46 million), MSN Search (45 million), AOL Search (23 million), and Ask Jeeves (13 million).
Nielsen also found that consumers relied heavily on search engines during the 2003 holiday shopping season. Thirty-six percent of those polled said they'd used Google during the shopping fest, while 25 percent used Yahoo! Search. Those numbers decline markedly for the other providers, with 14 percent of respondents citing MSN Search, and five percent for both AOL and Ask Jeeves. Nielsen//NetRatings conducted the poll in partnership with Goldman Sachs and Harris Interactive.
"Online shoppers have turned to search engines not only to find stores but to comparison shop," said Levin. "Search engines are quickly becoming the first destination for online shoppers, and we expect that trend to continue through 2004."