Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) & Google Inc (GOOG): Tablet Users Continue to Influence Search Market Share

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It’s probably too early to tell if Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s entrée into the tablet world—with the introduction of its Surface device—is going to make much of a dent in Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s seemingly unshakable dominance in the search engine arena. But there has been some reason for renewed optimism among shareholders who have likely grown weary of the lack of progress in unseating search engine giant Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG).

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Bing search engine grew to 17.4% market share in May, up from 17.3% the month before and a not-insignificant rise above its 15.4% search engine market share for May 2012.

With Microsoft a bit slow on the draw with its tablet, investors are no doubt hoping the old adage “better late than never” will hold true. But if the company’s late start with tablets mirrors its late arrival in the smart phone market, where it has only eked out a 5% share, investors could be left wondering if Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has again arrived at the party too late.

As the number of tablet users continues to climb, so does the number of users relying on such devices for search purposes. A recent study presented by comScore, with partners from 15 miles/Geary LSF and Neustar Laceleze, revealed that searches conducted by PC users had dropped 6% year-over-year by December 2012 and there’s little indication this downward trend will slow. Meanwhile, use of tablets to reach search or navigation sites and apps bounced upward by 19% in the period between April through December 2012, according to comScore’s research.

Equally interesting is comScore’s look into the unprecedented pace of new tablet ownership. While it took smartphones nearly a decade following introduction to reach 40 million owners, tablets were able to reach this milestone in a mere two years since the launch of the iPad.

What this means for search engine giants Google, Bing and Yahoo!—as well as the countless companies trying to earn their attention—is that a better experience for tablet users could score market share and higher search ratings, respectively.

Businesses continue to vie for the attention of the big three with coordinated search engine optimization, most often relying on outside expertise to help the process along.The trend in tablets and the continued fight over search market share is gaining international attention, particularly since many of the companies assisting businesses with their optimization needs are working on a global basis.

“We are aware of both trends—greater use of tablets and steady growth of Bing’s market share—and we advise our clients accordingly,” says Daniel Vassiliou, head of Endurance SEO, a search engine optimization, web development and online marketing company based in Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire, U.K.

Vassiliou says optimization of online content is not as straightforward as some might think, and current trends have him counseling clients to consider the experience of the tablet and mobile device user, not just the PC owner. “Unlike a lot of firms, we’ve also tried not to focus wholly on Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) when working to improve optimization of client content. Certainly they are the major force, but it’s important not to ignore a third of what is going on out there.”

Year-over-year growth shows Bing’s percentage of search queries jumped nearly 30% from the previous May, while Google’s share increased by 14% and Yahoo! showed an increase of just 1%. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) continues to boast over 2/3 of the total market share.

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