Yahoo and Microsoft artificially pad their search shares

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ComScore has released its May 2010 US Search Data report showing upward trends for both Bing and Yahoo, while Google supposedly lost a bit of share during April but that's not entirely accurate. According to the research outfit, Yahoo and Microsoft are fudging the numbers by including links on their sites that are search queries disguised as content.

For instance, last month Yahoo had some 284 million search queries of "contextual searches." An example of contextual searches can be found in features like photo slideshows in Yahoo News, in which every click to a new slide counts as an additional query. Below each photo are results from an automatic "related search" query. Naturally, this artificially pads the company's organic search figures.

Without adjusting its numbers to account for those tactics, comScore puts Yahoo and Bing at 18.3% and 12.1%, up from 17.7% and 11.8% in the month prior. Meanwhile, Google's search presence fell slightly to 63.7% from 64.4% in April. ComScore plans to tweak its methodology by July or August, but for May's figures, others say Yahoo's share actually fell to 16.6% and Redmond was flat.

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