April 5, 2002, 12:00 AM

Yahoo gets the traffic, but Google keeps them longer, NetRatings reports

Yahoo had 50% more search visitors than Google, but Google visitors stayed three time as long in February, says Nielsen/NetRatings, which also reported top shopping sites.


It should come as no surprise to anyone who uses the web that Yahoo continues to be the most popular web search site; the name is almost synonymous with search. But what is surprising in the search engine traffic numbers that Nielsen/NetRatings released today is that web users spend nearly three times as much time at Google as they do at Yahoo.

In February, 35.2 million people visited Yahoo for search purposes, 32.3 million visited MSN, 27.4 million visited Google, 24.3 million, AOL Search and 11.2 million, Ask Jeeves.

Visitors to Google averaged 26 minutes per person, while Yahoo visitors averaged 9 and MSN, 8. “Many people start with Yahoo and MSN, but when they really want to dig deeper into results, they go to Google,” says Jarvis Mak, senior analyst at NetRatings.

Mak says that even though Google powers the Yahoo search, many users who are conducting serious searches don’t like the fact that Yahoo filters the results. “They may get the same results at Yahoo as they do at Google, but Yahoo wraps merchandise and other things that it wants to promote around the results,” he says. “A lot of people don’t like that.”

Retailers and other marketers who use such techniques as search engine optimization to drive traffic to their sites need to know which sites perform the best, Nielsen/NetRatings says. "As fee-based services are gradually incorporated and competition between the various search engines intensifies, it`s becoming increasingly important to compare search-specific traffic at various online destinations," says Lisa Strand, director and chief e-commerce analyst.

Nielsen/NetRatings today also reported the top apparel/beauty sites in February. And Valentines Day definitely influenced shopping traffic: Leading the pack was VictoriasSecret.com, with 2 million unique visitors, followed closely by Fredericks.com with 1.7 million visitors. The next three were general apparel sites: OldNavy.com, with 1.68 million, Gap.com with 1.66 million and EddieBauer.com, with 1.42 million.

Nielsen/NetRatings also reported the top computer hardware sites. Hewlett Packard, 7.4 million Dell Computer Corp., 5.74 million Apple, 4.85 Compaq Computer Corp., 3 million Gateway Inc. 2.4 million

In multi-category shopping sites, the leaders were: Amazon, 30.3 million Yahoo Shopping, 25.7 million EBay, 23.7 million MSN Eshop, 9.3 million DealTime, 5.7 million


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