ComScore, one of the top Web site traffic measurement firms, has changed its methodology for tracking Web searches and the news isn't so good for Yahoo.
Under ComScore's new qSearch 2.0, Yahoo lost market share from a year ago and is now at 23.5 percent for July, while Google gained share, reaching 55.2 percent market share. The other market share loser was AOL.
"Google continues to really grow leaps and bounds above the competitors," James Lamberti, senior vice president at ComScore, said in a panel on Monday at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose, Calif.
Ask managed to hold share, Yahoo "was nearly flat in terms of absolute query growth," and Microsoft's search promotion boosted its share, he said. Excluding the bump from compensating people to use Microsoft Live search, Microsoft's share would have dropped, he added.
ComScore made some changes to the way it tracks and measures searches, which benefits Google but puts Yahoo at a disadvantage. Now ComScore counts not just searches from a search engine site, but also from affiliate or partner sites that return results from the search engine. Google has more such search affiliates than Yahoo does.
ComScore also is counting as separate searches clicks on tabs such as "images" and "news" that offer specialized searches from the main Web search site.
The news was not all bad for Yahoo. "Yahoo is doing well in terms of paid clicks because of Panama," the company's new search advertising system, Lamberti said.
"Even though we see a slight drop in market share we're still growing in number of searches and paid search," said Yahoo spokeswoman Kathryn Kelly. "These are strong indicators of our position in the market."
Brad Goldberg, general manager of search marketing at Microsoft, provided this statement: "We are pleased to see market share and query volume for Live Search continue to grow in July, as all third-party indices are reporting. Notably, the refinements ComScore has instituted with qSearch 2.0 are positive for the industry and advertisers, as its methodology more accurately measures search traffic sources that are core to customer engagement and enables advertisers to get the most out of search."
ComScore also said it was expanding its search reports to include other search share in other countries, as well as to other Web sites that include search, such as eBay, Amazon and MySpace.com.
UPDATE 3:25 pm PT: Nielsen/NetRatings released its July search market share figures. Google now has 53.3 percent, Yahoo has 20.1 percent and Microsoft has 13.6 percent, according to Nielsen/NetRatings' tally.