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Google Search Share Slips

Overall, 2008 was a decidedly good year for Google, which handled 4.2 billion searches last January and 5.4 billion during December.

Google's share of searches in the United States declined 1.2 percentage points from 64.1% in November to 62.9% in December, according to data from Nielsen Online.

Microsoft and Yahoo saw 2008 end on a happier note. In December, Microsoft's U.S. search share grew to 9.8% and Yahoo's share grew to 16.8%, gains of 0.7 percentage points for each company from November.

Compared to January 2008, however, when Microsoft's U.S. search share was 12.1% and Yahoo's was 19%, an uptick last month doesn't really make up for the losses spread over the rest of last year.

AOL's search share declined to 4.1%, while's share dropped to 2.0%, percentage point losses of 0.2 and 0.3, respectively.

Overall, 2008 was a decidedly good year for Google, which handled 4.2 billion searches last January and 5.4 billion during December. In January 2008, the company had 56.9% U.S. search share and 11 months later it had 62.9%.

According to data provided by Hitwise, another metrics firm, Google received 72.07% of U.S. Internet searches last month. During this period, Yahoo handled 17.79% of the searches, Microsoft's MSN processed 5.56%, and fielded 3.15% of U.S. search queries.

During the fourth quarter of 2008, according to AdGooroo, the average number of ads Google showed on the first search results page rose 58%, from 2.54 to 4.01, suggesting that the increasing number of searches it has been fielding could correlate to an increase in ad revenue.

Microsoft and Yahoo both saw growth in ads per search results page during the fourth quarter -- 3.37 and 3.01, respectively. Those numbers represent 42.3% growth for Microsoft and 8.8% growth for Yahoo.

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