Google's share of UK search market hit five-year low last month

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Google's share of the UK search market hit a five-year low in December, according to new figures from Experian.

The internet giant saw its share of the market dip below the 90 per cent mark for the second month in a row, with the firm accounting for 88.35 per cent of the UK's online searches.

This is Google's lowest ranking in five years, while its rivals Bing, Yahoo and Ask all saw their share go up slightly in December.

There are seven times more searches conducted on Google than on all of the other search engines combined.

Google's UK market share was also down 2.8 per cent on December 2011, when it accounted for 91.15 per cent of the UK's search queries.

The results were compiled by Experian Hitwise, which monitors the web browsing habits of the UK population and how they interact with more than 1 million websites.

Its findings also showed that Microsoft's search sites, which include Bing, clocked a 0.19 per cent uptick in searches between November and December 2012, as well as a year-on-year increase of 1.15 per cent.

Meanwhile, Yahoo increased its share of the market by 0.08 per cent over the same month-to-month timeframe, and achieved a year-on-year jump in searches of 0.86 per cent.

Ask saw the largest jump in monthly searches with 0.52 per cent growth between November and December.

Overall, UK web users made 2.7 billion visits to search engines during December 2012, which is 400 million more than the same month of 2011, said Experian.

The company said the jump in December search activity corresponds with the rise in people using the web to buy Christmas presents.

James Murray, digital insight manager at Experian Marketing Services, said Google's drop in market share should make little difference to its competitive edge.

"There are seven times more searches conducted on Google sites than on all the other search engines combined. However, this is encouraging news for Microsoft as Bing...starts to gain some momentum in the UK search market," said Murray.

Bing popularity, he added, has been bolstered by its availability across multiple Microsoft devices, while Microsoft's recent technology tie-up with Facebook should also work in its favour.

"Becoming the default search engine on sites such as Facebook has also contributed to an increase in market share as the way in which consumers use search engines to continues to diversify," added Murray.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.