RealTime IT News

Facebook Posts Huge Search Growth

Facebook continues showing strength not just as a major force in social networking, but also in search -- experiencing a 35-percent increase in searches in July.

That's enough to make Facebook one of the fastest-growing properties on which searches are conducted, according to research firm comScore's monthly search report.

Also recording growth for the month were Craigslist, with 8 percent, and eBay and Microsoft's Bing, each with 5 percent. Yahoo's non-search sites -- which include Flickr and Delicious -- saw a 4-percent upswing in searches, while Google-owned YouTube grew 1 percent, comScore said.

This contrasts with the major "traditional" players in search, which saw fewer search queries last month. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) dipped 2 percent from June, while Yahoo and AOL dropped 5 percent each. Ask Network declined 4 percent, while Fox Interactive -- owner of sites including Facebook rival MySpace.com -- plunged 10 percent. Searches on Amazon slipped 1 percent.

Still, in terms of the number of searches conducted, Google still leads the way with 12.9 billion searches, followed by Yahoo Sites with 2.8 billion. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Sites ranked third with 1.3 billion searches, up 3 percent from May, followed by eBay with 709 million.

Google also still dominates in terms of overall market share. In July, of a total 13.6 billion core searches, Google Sites accounted for 64.7 percent search market share, followed by Yahoo with 19.3 percent share. Microsoft sites grabbed 8.9 percent market share, a 0.5 percentage point gain versus June, according to the report.

The latest figures come at a time when Facebook's recent acquisitions and expanded services signal a strategy to position the No. 1 social networking site as competition to Yahoo, Google and Twitter in terms of providing real-time search, communications, advertising, gaming and content.

Last week, Facebook started unwrapping a new search service that it had been testing for several months. The service enables members to find status updates, photos, links and videos. Results are served in categories depending on the query. Previously, users could find entries for other users' profiles and groups.

It also just bought FriendFeed, a start-up seen as a competitor to Twitter.

Facebook also is testing a stripped-down version of its service for overseas markets with limited broadband, and is developing an electronic payments system.

But Facebook isn't the only big name in online media going through changes. Though Microsoft-owned Bing's growth rate isn't explosive, it appears to be consistently growing by small increments. comScore's findings are mirrored by Nielsen's search figures for July, which show an 8-percent month-over-month increase for the search engine.

Microsoft and Yahoo also recently joined forces in an ad deal designed to strengthen their position as a unified challenger to front-runner Google.