Google challenges Yahoo!'s position as top search engine

Yahoo! Is still the top choice as an Internet search engine, but Google is catching up fast, according to a study.

Yahoo! Is still the top choice as an Internet search engine, but Google is catching up fast, according to a study.

Of all search referrals worldwide, 36.4% came from Yahoo!, while Google trailed close behind with 31.9%, according to figures from market researcher WebSideStory, which released the results of a tracking study by its StatMarket division.

Microsoft's MSN network wasplaced third with 12.7% of worldwide search referrals.

StatMarket defined search referrals as "the percentage of daily Internet users that arrive at a Web page via a particular search site", it said in a statement.

The study data was gathered from the 125,000 client sites that use the Hitbox Web analysis services from WebSideStory, which attract 50 million daily Internet users, said a WebSideStory spokeswoman.

The company used cookies - small software programs stored on a user's computer - and tags in a client Web site's code to gather the search referral data.

Google is one of the few search engines that focuses on search technology, unlike Yahoo! and MSN, which feature broad categories of services and features.

Google also provides the back-end technology for searches conducted through Yahoo! and Netscape Communications's site, although only searches originating from Google's site are included in the statistics above.

Althought Yahoo!'s search engine numbers are declining, the company still enjoys a leading presence in several Internet categories, including finance, music and personal Web page services. Despite the strength of its brand, the company has struggled with sustaining profitability, and now charges fees for services that were previously free, including a premium search service.

The two companies are heading in different directions, according to WebSideStory. Search engine referrals from Google have risen from 1% in June 2000 to their present level, while Yahoo!'s numbers have dropped from 46% of all referrals in the same time frame.

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