Online measurement company Hitwise has run a comparison of search terms associated with Yahoo!, MSN and Google in the US and UK, highlighting some differences in consumers’ attitudes to the three portals on different sides of the Atlantic.

The study found that US consumers, for example, largely associate MSN with its portal content while in the UK, the brand is better known for communications tools Messenger and Hotmail.

Unsurprisingly, Google is strongly associated with its search engine in both countries, but its brand is linked more closely with Google Videos in the UK, with just over 4% of listed searches relating to Google Video, compared with only 1% in the US.

For Yahoo!, its personals service features more prominently in the US than the UK. Hitwise also says there were fewer searches for ‘my yahoo’ and ‘yahoo profiles’ in the UK than in the US, suggesting those brands have yet to click as well with British consumers.

The same stands for the content on MSN’s portal, with almost half of the top 20 UK terms relating to either MSN Messenger or MSN Web Messenger, compared to four in the US.

Popular searches in the US, such as ‘msn chat’, ‘msn music’, ‘rockstar’, ‘msn spaces’, ‘msn money’ and ‘msn home’, are also missing from the UK list.

However, at least MSN’s smileys seem to be popular, with searches for ‘msn monkey’ and ‘msn dollies’ showing up in the UK Top 20.