With activity down 16%, is the age of search slowly drawing to a close?

The end of search is a theme that’s been talked about a lot in the past – as long ago as in Feb 2008, Ben Kunz of Media Associates produced a series of graphs from Google Trends showing that search volumes were significantly down for a range of what you might call staple terms – music, furniture, office supplies etc.

Some of it is wishful thinking as many of us wish for the age of Google to start drawing to a close (whether the age of Facebook is any better is of course a different matter altogether).

And the latest Nielsen search stats from the US show that Google is as dominant as ever, controlling almost 2/3 (64.2%) of the search market – a share that’s hardly changed since last year, despite all the new bells and whistles that Microsoft’s Bing (on 13.6%)  has been rolling out.

It’s the second table however that makes for more interesting reading.   Over the past year, search activity is down 16%  – 17% in the case of Google.   Yahoo! (-30%) performed particularly badly, though despite it’s still small share Bing (+28%) has done well.   So all those extra features are paying off after all.

OK, so with almost nine million searches being conducted in the US in July, search is certainly not dead.  But a drop of close to a fifth year on year is still significant, and one explanation has to be that people get more and more of what they need and want via social media.   There is that research from earlier in the year after all about Facebook now driving more traffic to major news and entertainment portals than Google.

At the very least it reinforces what Comscore found last year – that search and social media campaigns now need to work very much in tandem, with a paid search campaign supported by social activity being 2.23x more effective than if conducted on its own.

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