Google and Yahoo increased their market share in the online search arena as Microsoft's MSN slipped, according to Nielsen NetRatings.

Growth in use of Google and Yahoo is outpacing the overall growth in the search-engine market during the past year, according to the internet research firm.

The number of searches at Yahoo.com grew by 47 percent, and searches at Google.com grew by 41 percent between March 2005 and this March, Nielsen NetRatings said. Overall, online searches grew 36 percent in the past year.

Google's searches increased from 2.1 billion in March 2005 to 2.9 billion this March, while Yahoo's searches increased from 907.8 million to 1.3 billion. The third-largest search provider, MSN, grew by nine percent, from 592.2 million to 643.8 million, Nielsen NetRatings said.

Google gained two percent of the search market share over the past year, while Yahoo gained one percent. Google receives 49 percent of all searches, and Yahoo receives 22 percent, the research firm said. MSN's share dropped from 14 percent to 11 percent.

New features such as instant search suggestions and video search are boosting customer loyalty at Google and Yahoo, Michael Lanz, vice-president for search industry solutions at Nielsen NetRatings, said in a statement.