US search habits have shown that the new Yahoo!/Bing search collaboration is – slowly – helping it gain ground on Google.

In a year, the new combined search site has gained around a four per cent market share of US searches – largely at the expense of Google.

But the slow change means Google may not have to fret too much just yet.

The latest Experian Hitwise report claims Bing searches accounted for around 28.99% of all US search enquiries last month, up from 28.05% the previous month.

It’s now been 12 months since Yahoo! and Bing combined their search systems in an attempt to gain ground on Google – which has a huge share of all global searches.

Hitwise claims that, back in August 2010 when Yahoo! and Bing first merged their search, Google had a 71.59% market share. That has since dropped to about 65%.

Microsoft, which runs Bing, had previously said it didn’t expect to eat away at Google’s lion share immediately.

Instead, the company said it would keep “working and working” to chip away at Google’s dominance.

The fact Google has dropped six percentage points, whilst Bing/Yahoo has gained four per cent, shows that the strategy is working, albeit at a slow pace.

It’s interesting news for search engine optimisation, as strategies will need to be tailored to maximise result listings for both search engines as Bing/Yahoo! eat into Google’s market.

If Bing/Yahoo! can up their current pace, however, then Google’s stranglehold on search will eventually weaken in the US. There would appear to still be a long way to go before that happens, though.

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