Though Search Engines Are Growing, More Users Are Going Direct

Though Search Engines Are Growing, More Users Are Going Direct

A new report from Hitwise, covering the period from August 2003 through April 2004, looking specifically at Search Engines and Directories, shows that the top three search engines, Google, Yahoo! Search and MSN Search, account for 5.5% of all U.S. Internet visits.

In light of the Google IPO, the report notes, the search industry is receiving unprecedented attention, and the study finds that during this period Google has been the only leading search engine to experience a substantial growth in market share of U.S. visits, showing an increase of 21.4% in market share of visits to the Search Engines and Directories category.

But, based on Hitwise demographic data, it is clear that all search engine visitors are not created equal. There are differences between visitors to the leading three search engines.

- The most predominant demographic for Google users is male (53.42%) aged 35-44 (25.26%) earning an annual household income between $60,000 - $100,000.

- Both Yahoo! Search and MSN Search capture more of the lower income demographic of $30,000 - $60,000 annual household income. Yahoo! Search stands out in the younger age demographic of 25-34 (25.99%), while MSN Search is stronger with females (54.26%).

Hitwise Clickstream provides a breakdown of the top industry categories visited after Google, Yahoo! Search and MSN Search. Interestingly, MSN Search has the highest percentage of downstream visits to the very lucrative categories of Shopping and Classifieds, Business and Finance, and Travel. Google, given its genesis in higher education and its strong news service dominates the Education and News and Media categories, while Yahoo! dominates the Entertainment category.

Downstream Visits from leading Search Engines - by Industry

Category Google Yahoo! SearchMSN Search
Shopping and Classifieds 9.26% 8.85% 10.07%
Entertainment 9.00% 9.24% 9.02%
Education 8.63% 6.54% 6.62%
Business and Finance 5.84% 6.69% 7.40%
Lifestyle 5.47% 5.11% 5.76%
News and Media 5.43% 4.57% 4.96%
Travel 3.04% 3.52% 3.80%

Source: Hitstream week ending May 15, 2004

The report concludes that 2004 brings the potential for a new type of disintermediation, the removal of search engines ("the middleman") between the end user and vertical search engines.

The study finds strong growth in market share of visits by three of the leading shopping search sites; Bizrate , NexTag, and While these leading shopping search sites have experienced astronomical growth during the period of August 2003 to April 2004, the percentage of visits driven from search engines has decreased. The combination of overall strong growth and decreased visits driven from search indicates that users are going direct or finding other routes to comparison shopping sites.

The complete report is available here.

Next story loading loading..