The latest search engine rankings from Hitwise indicate that Microsoft has surpassed 30 percent of the market.

In March 2011, Bing saw some major search gains, according to Hitwise. Bing-powered search accounted for slightly more than 30 percent of the search market – a 5 percent increase over February.

The firm's SE ranking report reveals that Bing's search share climbed where Google's slipped. The search giant, which fielded more than two-thirds of queries in February (66.69 percent), dropped 3 percent to 64.42 percent of the market last month. Meanwhile, Bing rose from 28.48 percent to 30.01 percent.

Hitwise also reports that Bing searches are good news for business websites. Searches on Yahoo sites and Bing sites achieved the highest site referral rates in March, with 81.14 and 80.32 percent of searches (on each, respectively) resulting in website visits. Google, on the other hand, achieved a site referral rate of just 65.91 percent.

This may indicate that internet marketers should optimize their sites for Bing more seriously, but it could also be a sign that search engineers and marketers need to figure out how to offer users highly relevant results. As Hitwise says, “the share of unsuccessful searches highlights the opportunity for both the search engines and marketers to evaluate the search engine result pages to ensure that searchers are finding relevant information.”

Brands might want to invigorate their SEO and content marketing strategies to offer useful, searchable information and increase their traffic from search portals. It may be wise to consult with professionals to achieve optimal search marketing results; as Brafton has reported, a recent survey reveals that the majority of SMB marketers feel they need help with their search marketing campaigns.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.