The January 2011 search stats are in and its good news for Bing. Its search share rose by 6.5% from December.

The analysis, conducted by Experian Hitwise, found that Google accounting for 67.95% of all U.S. searches while Bing-powered search accounted for 27.44%. (Yahoo! Search was 14.62% and Bing was 12.81%). Something that doesn’t happen very often was Google losing market share, although it was a tiny 2.5%.

Amongst the retail websites, Amazon is still in the lead with 11.25% of all the paid search traffic.

The report also showed that there was a 5% increase in use of longer (5-8 words) search queries and a 1% decrease in short search queries. Two word search queries still remain the most popular by comprising 23.6% of all search queries. Here is a breakdown of the US click by number of keywords.

january2010clickstats

One area where Bing was able to trump Google was in the click through success rate. Bing powered search results had a better success rate (81%) compared to Google’s 65% – this means that Bing saw more searches convert into a visit to a website. Google’s reduced success could be due to the fact that it provides a lot of information in its SERP’s without making users click through to a website. For example, if you search for “weather”, then Google will displays your local weather forecast directly in its SERP.

Google’s Matt Cutts has weighed into this particular statistic and how Hitwise reports data by reposting an old comment from 2009:

It sounds like Hitwise’s definition is “A successful search is defined as one where the consumer leaves the search engine after performing a search.” In another words, the user does a query and then goes somewhere else. That doesn’t sound the same as success to me; it just sounds like leaving the site.

Are you able to determine whether the user clicked on a search result vs. just left the search engine to go to another site? There’s a difference between an abandoned search and clicking on a search result, but both result in the user searching and then going to a different site. By Hitwise’s definition, wouldn’t doing a query on Bing and then going to Google or Yahoo count as a “successful search” on Bing? I’m also assuming that you can’t measure if the user got the information that they needed from the search results without needing to click to another site.

I think the phrase “successful search” is considerably less accurate than “left the site after searching,” because someone can leave a site for lots of different reasons.

Phew, sounds pretty technical to me. I don’t think Matt and the Google team have much to worry about with this particular analysis. They are still clearly the market leader.

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