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Google conquers 2008 search market in U.S.

Unsurprisingly, Google led the search market in the U.S. in 2008. But third-place Microsoft has reclaimed some share over the last five months.

About 69.5 percent of Internet searches in the U.S. took place through Google during 2008, with search traffic increasing 8 percent over 2007, according to research firm Hitwise.

At whose expense was this growth? No surprise: Yahoo and Microsoft. Second-place Yahoo had 19.2 percent of the search volume, a drop of 11 percent from its year-earlier volume, while Microsoft accounted for 5.9 percent of the volume, a drop of 32 percent for the year, Hitwise said. increased volume 1 percent to a share of 3.8 percent.

But looking at the story month-to-month, Microsoft fared better. "MSN Search has increased five months in a row now," Hitwise said, rising to 5.6 percent of the market in December.

Hitwise wasn't the only analysis firm to release market share numbers. On Wednesday, Nielsen Online issued its own, with broad agreement.

According to Nielsen, Google had 62.9 percent share in December, compared with 16.8 percent for Yahoo, 9.8 percent for Microsoft, 4.1 for AOL (which actually uses Google's results), and 2.0 for

Nielsen said the total number of searches in December was 8.6 billion in the U.S., up 19.6 percent from the year earlier.