Google maintains its lead in the search market, but comScore's updated metrics suggest predictive technology isn't encouraging clicks.

Marketers planning their holiday search campaigns may be interested in the latest search engine rankings from comScore that reveal Google continues to drive the most traffic to sites. While Google maintains its lead in the search market, the firm updated its metrics to evaluate the impact of Google Instant, and it seems the predictive technology isn't encouraging clicks.   

ComScore established a priority scoring system to measure Google's share of explicit core searches and total core searches, respectively, based on Google Instant engagement. Brafton reported that Google Instant impressions are counted whenever users pause on suggested results for three seconds or more, but comScore distinguishes between hovering over results and engaging with answers to queries.

In its official blog, the firm explains that queries are only deemed "Explicit Core Searches" when users click on results, refinement links or vertical tabs, establishing clear consumer engagement. "Total Core Searches" include those where users pause for up to three seconds.

With this in mind, Google showed modest gains, but not enough to suggest that Google Instant is dramatically impacting search behavior – or driving traffic to sites.

According to the September search rankings, the search giant represented 62.9 percent of total core searches – a 2.4 percent month-over-month increase. However, Google accounted for 66.1 percent of explicit core searches in September – a less than 1 percent increase over the previous month, which suggests consumers aren't clicking on more results because of Google Instant.

For marketers hoping to catch clicks to their sites, this may suggest Google Instant isn't increasing the value of the search engine. Still, it's undeniable that Google takes the lead in catching consumers' queries. When it comes to explicit core searches (which, don't abide by the "three second rule" for consumer engagement) Microsoft sites accounted for just 11.2 percent of the explicit core searches, and Yahoo sites accounted for 16.7 percent.

Even though comScore makes the difference between engagement that catches clicks and Google Instant result hovering clear, officials at Yahoo are not pleased with the latest total core search reports. In a recent Yahoo blog post, Shashi Seth rants about how search rankings are "misleading the consumers of their data" and he calls for "ways to more accurately measure searches in the long term so that all players in the industry can focus on driving innovation." Searchers and search marketers, stay tuned.  

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.