Search Volume Rebounds In January

Search rebounded at the start of 2008, with Americans conducting more than 10 billion "core" searches in January--up nearly 9% from December 2007, according to comScore. In contrast, search volume had slid downward in December, with an almost 4% dip in queries versus the previous month.

And according to data from a new JPMorgan North America Equity Research report, January's search surge also represents strong annual growth--as core searches were up by about 23% year-over-year, versus 15% in December. "We believe January's growth is more in line with historical levels," the report said.

Each of the five major engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL and Ask) saw monthly gains of at least 5% in terms of search volume, with the biggest spikes coming from AOL and Ask. Queries on AOL shot up by over 16%, followed closely by Ask with about 15%. Meanwhile, search volume on MSN was up by almost 10%, followed by a solid 9% on Google, and queries on Yahoo grew by roughly 6%.

Not surprisingly, Google accounted for an overwhelming number of those core searches--which include queries across partner sites and the Mozilla Firefox toolbar, but not maps or local directories--snagging almost 59%. Yahoo remained in second place with roughly 22%, although the embattled Web giant was the only core engine to see a slight dip in market share. MSN, AOL and Ask's market shares all remained relatively the same--keeping them in the third, fourth and fifth spots, respectively.

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Expanded search queries, which include searches for content like videos, maps and products, hit 14.6 billion in January--beating out core searches in terms of sheer volume. Up 8% from December 2007, the growth indicates that consumers continue to use search to navigate the Web for transactional purposes like shopping, as well as entertainment.

Over half (7.7 billion) of those searches were conducted on Google Sites, including YouTube. There were more than 1.5 billion searches on YouTube alone in January--more than all of the core searches on MSN, and closing in on the 2.3 billion core searches on Yahoo. Still, Yahoo took second place in terms of searches across its extended network of sites, with 2.5 million.

Facebook broke into the top 10 in terms of extended searches, with 109 million queries in January, up 6% from December. Local classifieds giant Craigslist and Ask both saw strong extended search gains, with surges of 16% and 15%, respectively. Meanwhile, searches on Amazon.com were down by 22%.

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