The venerable stats firm Nielsen is behind these new figures, which are based on "intentional" searches only, and ignore "contextual searches," slideshows or other effects. Nielsen pegs Google at around 65% of all U.S.-sourced searches. Yahoo's share fell from 14.6% share in July to 13.1% in August. Microsoft's Bing beats it with a share of 13.9%.
This is a testament to the innovation and aggressive marketing that Microsoft achieved with its revamped, re-engineered, rejuvenated search engine. You want proof? Look no further than Google's recent about-face on the look and feel of its iconic home page. You can now install a lush, full-background vanity photo behind the search box--an idea stolen from Bing.
The figures look better for Bing when you look at the year-on-year trend. It went from 10.7% in August 2009 to 13.9% this year. Yahoo's slippage looks even worse. It went from 16% last year to 13.1% this year.
Of course, there's more than one way to skin a search engine. Different research firms measure Google's, Bing's and Yahoo's successes differently. Recent stats from Comscore and Hitwise both put Yahoo in second place. But smart observers will note the trends in the Nielsen data. The absolute levels of each firm's market share are debatable, but trend lines tell an undeniable story.
So will Google Instant solidify Google's position at the top of the search tree, stealing away customers from its slower-footed rivals? Or will Google Instant's ADD interface actually help Bing's numbers? If Instant is a hit, will Microsoft move quickly to make up for its slip-up last year, and add an innovative Instant-like services of its own? Meanwhile, what on Earth can Yahoo do to get back in the game?
To keep up with this news, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.