Microsoft on the heels of Google’s search share

Bolstered by a site that requires users to use its search engine for games, Microsoft’s Live search engine increased its query volume 67 percent from May to June, while as Yahoo’s query volume edged downward, according to a new study.

While Google still owns the largest share of the search market with 62 percent of all search queries in June, up from 55 percent last year, the query volume of its long-time closest competitor Yahoo was down 16 percent compared to June 2006, according to a study released this week by web analytics firm

MSN’s share of search queries grew from 10 percent in June 2006 to 13 percent in June 2007, boosted mainly from its Live Search Club, where users can play games for points that can be redeemed for Microsoft products, said. All of the games involve the use of the Live search engine. With no traffic at all to the club site in April, traffic shot up to three million unique visitors in June, according to Compete.

However, Compete’s Steve Willis noted in his blog that “While that sharp spike from MSN looks impressive, it’s only relative to their own current standing. In terms of market share, it only represents just 5 percent that Live took away from other engines (mostly Google). If Microsoft can actually leverage this traffic to the search club into actual search users and string together a few more months like this, they could really threaten Google’s top spot.”

Not all recent search engine market share reports have noted that same growth for Microsoft. Research firm ComScore Inc. , for example, released its search engine market share report late last month, noting that while Google owned 50 percent of the market in May 2007, Microsoft actually saw its share decrease from 13 percent in May 2006 to 10 percent in May 2007.

ComScore also saw a dip in Yahoo’s market share, noting that it decreased from 28 percent in May 2006 to 26 percent in May 2007. That ComScore ranking, however was for May, and Compete noticed the sharp increase in the Live Club traffic in June.

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