Google's development of new search and online services over the past several years has attracted much attention, but most of its traffic continues to be generated by its search service, according to market researcher Hitwise.

The company's search site,, gets almost 80 per cent of all the network’s visits, powering the company's business despite Google's growing assortment of online services.

Google is the top rated search engine according to NetRatings. The Internet research firm estimates there were nearly three billion Google searches in March 2006.

Google's image search engine draws 9.5 per cent of the visits, followed by Gmail with 5.5 per cent and Google News with 1.49 per cent, according to Bill Tancer, Hitwise's general research manager.

All other Google sites, including the critically-acclaimed Google Maps and the comparison-shopping engine Froogle, receive less than 1 per cent of visits, he wrote.

The situation is much different at Yahoo and MSN. Most visits to Yahoo sites are to Yahoo Mail with 33 per cent, followed by the home page (32 per cent), while Yahoo Search gets only 9.8 per cent, according to Tancer. Something similar happens at MSN, where Hotmail gets the most visits (41 per cent), followed by the home page (33 per cent), with MSN Search a distant third with 16 per cent.