Microsoft's search share is on the rise.

Brafton has reported that Google is still the search leader, but new data from Experian Hitwise indicates that marketers won't want to miss their chance to reach Bing users. Microsoft's search share is on the rise.

The Hitwise data reveals that accounted for 12.81 percent of searches in January 2011. This demonstrates a 21 percent month-over-month change, as the site accounted for just 10.60 percent of searches in December.

While Bing is gaining ground, its ally declined 4 percent month-over-month. Yahoo searches dropped to 14.62 percent of all search queries in January. Nonetheless, Bing's gains made up for Yahoo's loss.

Bing-powered searches accounted for 27.44 percent of all queries last month, showing a 6 percent increase over December. Meanwhile, Google's search share declined by 2 percent in January.

Google executives might argue that Bing's growing popularity among consumers is a product of the company copying its results, instead of an indication that Bing is improving its own results pages. As Brafton reported, Microsoft and Google went head-to-head last week about whether or not Bing is copying the search giant.

No matter the methods Bing is using to expand its user base, marketers should consider that optimizing their sites for Bing can help them reach a growing audience.

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.