22 Jan 2013, Dan Worth, V3
Google has seen its share of the UK search market fall to its lowest level in five years as competition from rivals, notably Microsoft's Bing service, continue to erode its lead.
Figures from Experian show that in December 2012 Google controlled 88.35 percent of the search market, down from 89.12 percent the month before and down from 91.15 percent in December 2011.
By contrast, Microsoft's Bing service saw its year-on-year share improve by 1.15 percent from 3.84 to 4.99 percent of the market. Yahoo also improved, up to 3.58 percent, a rise of 0.86 percent over the twelve month period.
Although the figures show Google has lost market share to its rivals, its huge share, at almost nine-tenth of the entire market, underlines its dominance in the sector.
"Clearly, Google still maintains a huge competitive edge over the other search engines in the UK market," said digital insights manager for Experian, James Murray.
"There are seven times more searches conducted on Google sites than on all the other search engines combined."
Nevertheless, he said Microsoft was making good ground and its deals with the like of Facebook were positive news.
"This is encouraging news for Microsoft as Bing once again starts to gain some momentum and traction in the UK search market," he said.
"Bing's availability across multiple Microsoft devices and becoming the default search engine on sites such as Facebook has also contributed to an increase in market share as the way in which consumers use search engines continues to diversify."
Google could also face a new threat from Facebook, which last week unveiled a new search service called Graph Search that's designed to utilise the huge amount of social data on its users to offer more personalised search results based on users' connections and networks.
The increase in market share for Google's rivals came as Experian saw a huge rise in the number of total visits to retail sites in the run up to Christmas. In total, 2.8 billion visits were made in the week ending 29 December 2012, up 30 percent on 2011.