Around the world, internet users over the age of 15 conducted 131 billion searches in the month of December 2009, representing a 46 percent increase over the same period in 2008, according to a recently released study by comScore.

The U.S. remained the largest national search market in the world, with 22.7 billion searches performed over the month of December, or roughly 17 percent of all search traffic worldwide. The Russian Federation, comScore said, was the fastest-growing search market, almost doubling its December 2008 numbers to reach 3.3 billion in 2009. This is fact is also reflected in the 91 percent gains made by Russian-language search engine Yandex during the same period.

Jack Flanagan, comScore executive vice president, said that "the global search market continues to grow at an extraordinary rate, with both highly developed and emerging markets contributing to the strong growth worldwide. Search is clearly becoming a more ubiquitous behavior among internet users that drives navigation not only directly from search engines but also within sites and across networks."

The study is, experts say, further evidence of the critical importance that search engine optimization (SEO) can have to a wider online marketing effort.