Experian Hitwise just released its search engine statistics for the four weeks ending Jan. 2, 2010, reporting that Google accounted for 72.25 percent of all U.S. searches. Yahoo Search came in second, with 14.83 percent, Bing was used for 8.92 percent of U.S. searches, and fourth-place Ask.com accounted for 2.54 percent. These numbers represent a 1 percent gain from November for Google, and a 4 percent loss for each of the others.

The report clearly indicates that search engines are the primary online means for users to study key industries, such as automotive, business, finance, entertainment, news and media, social networking and sports. Each of these categories realized double-digit increases in traffic share via search engines.

Google increased its automotive traffic 13 percent year over year, and 9 percent each in shopping and travel. Yahoo dropped 11 percent in automotive, 19 percent in travel, but gained 11 percent in shopping. Bing’s gains were huge – 78% in auto, for example. It didn’t launch until May, 2009, however, so these numbers really had nowhere to go but up.

Here’s the announcement, with tables.

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