Microsoft's new Bing search engine appears to be gaining traction in the UK. But Google remains the leader by a massive margin, according to online market share analysts at Hitwise.

This follows news that Microsoft's Bing has already overtaken Yahoo in the search market.

Hitwise has now collected a week's worth of usage data in order to report on something more than just Bing's expected launch day spike.

Bing traffic peaked on June 3, when Bing was the eighth most visited website in the UK (ahead of all BBC properties, but one behind MSN UK) and the third ranked search engine, accounting for 10.8 percent of the UK market, reports Hitwise Research Director Robin Goad.

Since the initial launch hype, traffic to the site has declined, says Goad.

"However, one positive sign is that average visit time has increased to eight and a half minutes. This is half of Google UK's number but only slightly below Yahoo UK Search, implying that the people are actually spending time on the site and using it rather than just visiting out of curiosity."

The chart below illustrates Bing's daily market share of the search engine market in the UK compared with Yahoo!, Ask and Microsoft's other main property, Live Search (but excluding Google UK and US, which continue to maintain the lion's share).

Bing UK Internet Traffic

So what are people searching for on Bing, asks Goad? As with other engines, the majority of searches are branded.

"Of course, Google remains much more popular that Bing in the UK. Therefore it is perhaps not surprising that individual terms count for a smaller percentage of total searches, given that many more searches are carried out on the search engine. The search distribution data also bears this out: the top 100 individual search terms account for 20.1 percent of searches on Bing, but only 12.0 percent on Google UK."

Despite the dominance of branded terms, there are five generic terms in Bing's top 100. The top generic term search for on Bing is ‘music', which ranks 13th overall and accounts for 0.24 percent of all searches.

"Interestingly,' weather', the most popular generic term on Google UK, only ranks 55th; but there are more generic terms (7) overall in the search engine's top 100," says Goad.

For Bing the amount of traffic sent to other search engines is much higher than other search engines, highlighting the number of visitors that tried the engine before returning to their usual choice. Google UK was the third most popular website visited after Bing last week, while ‘google' was actually the second most popular term searched for on the engine.

"However, the downstream data also paints a positive picture for Bing, as last week its top downstream site was MSN UK," says Goad. "Looking at the upstream data, it is also clear that Bing relied on other Microsoft properties for most of its traffic: 45.8 percent came from MSN UK, with a further 16.6 percent from Windows Live Mail (Hotmail)."