Google maintained its dominance of the search market in December, hoovering up 91.7% of all searches in the UK.

Statistics from Experian Hitwise also reveal that YouTube also had a bumper month, accounting for 25% of visits to social networking sites.

Experian Hitwise Market research analyst James Murray said that there were record levels of internet traffic at Christmas, with 2.18bn visits going to online retailers in December, a year-on-year increase of 4.8%.

Retailers were relying more on search traffic in 2011, with 43% of all visits coming from a search engine – and for every ten visits to retailers from search, nine were from Google during this critical period.”

He said getting the right blend of traffic from social media, affiliates and other traffic sources is essential, but with search being so dominant at these key times, it is more important than ever for marketers to optimise both paid & organic campaigns.

Among social networks, YouTube saw a 1.4% increase in traffic in November, while Facebook’s traffic dropped 1.3% to 51.3% of visits in December.

The year-on-year decline is even greater, with Facebook’s share of visits to social networking sites dropping by 7%.

Traffic to YouTube rose from 417m visits in December 2010 to 606m visits in December 2011– a 45% increase year-on-year. 

This 45% growth in website visits to YouTube resulted in a 7% increase in YouTube’s market share of visits in Experian’s social networks and forums category, increasing from nearly 18% to 25% of all social visits.

It is now the third most visited website in the UK after Google and Facebook and the second biggest social network in the UK. 

Murray said: “In 2012 we’re expecting video to be even more influential as a marketing channel, and marketers will have to adapt their strategies to incorporate a multichannel approach in order to secure customers both on and offline.”