It's nice to know that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is mortal every now and then. The latest comScore Networks ratings show that Google's market share in search-engine traffic actually shrank last month, proving that Google's perpetual growth at the expense of rivals Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is not infinite.

However, don't go pulling the ripcord on Google just yet. As with everything else out there, there's more to the numbers once you start digging in.

July 2006 June 2006
Google 43.7% 44.7%
Yahoo! 28.8% 28.5%
MSN 12.8% 12.8%
AOL 5.9% 5.6%
Ask 5.4% 5.1%
Source: comScore Networks

Dig in, please
One could argue that slipping from owning 45% of the Internet's most lucrative pie to holding "just" a 44% slice isn't too shabby. It isn't. Google is still the master of this domain, and by more than a few horse lengths. Despite the monthly blip, it has gained plenty at the expense of its competitors over the past year.

Just consider the alliances that Google has brokered in recent months. Locking up the paid-search real estate on Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) AOL and News Corp.'s (NYSE:NWS) MySpace.com gives Google a little more wingspan.

Surf around long enough, and you will realize that searches aren't necessarily being initiated from the home pages of the portal bellwethers. Toolbars have become a great way to launch queries from any page on the Internet, and Google's toolbar is pretty snazzy.

Another reason why searches aren't being kick-started on engine landing pages is that consumers are spending so much time on popular sites like Google's buddy MySpace. Seekers are starting to turn to the now prominently featured search functionality of those sites.

The quest for more prime real estate
I don't think YouTube.com will get bought out. The video savants there saw MySpace get bought out too early and too cheap in its growth cycle to repeat the same mistake. That doesn't mean that the king of the clip-culture hill isn't being swamped by offers. It only means that if a deal is likely, it will probably be only for the site's search business.

It also doesn't mean that eyeball magnets like YouTube or Wikipedia wouldn't be gold mines under the right parent's arm. You've already seen Wikipedia struggle with the vandalism that is inherent in its model. And what's the deal with the spam policing on YouTube and MySpace? If you want to play a drinking game that will have you lit in minutes, take a shot of your libation of choice every time you see someone on those sites pimping a pyramid scheme -- the kind where someone claims to have made $3850 last month.

I accept these flaws only because the Internet needs renegade sites to keep the public coming. If the Internet ever turned too corporate, it would be about as popular as it was in its infancy, back when it was too academic.

Google won't become less relevant. As we have seen already, sites have come to lean on Google's search prowess and its growing inventory of sponsors. Yahoo! may have landed the paid-search pioneer in acquiring Overture, but Google has already mastered the art, if we go by the last few income statements. Microsoft's MSN.com is making an assertive push, and Ask.com parent IAC/InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ:IACI) has thrown in a few welcome enhancements, but this is still Google's game to lose.

Google 4eva
Last week, in my "How to Slay a Google" column, I suggested that the only way for Yahoo! or Mr. Softy to truly topple Google is to acquire eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY). That's a more attractive option than simply trying to outbid Google for third-party content sites. Not that Yahoo! and Microsoft aren't trying to wrestle away those very sites, but I can just picture the scene as Microsoft pitches to Craigslist:

Mr. Softy: Wow, no ads on your pages? Do you realize the major bucks to be made in contextual marketing? We can give you perfectly targeted ads. If someone is selling a toy poodle in Duluth, we can serve up advertisements for area dog breeders.

Craigslist: Ummm, I don't think you get the point of what we're doing here.

Mr. Softy: Oh, I've got a blank check that says I do.

Craigslist: I don't think so. Challenge our traffic with commercial interests, and Craigslist becomes less relevant. It would be the beginning of the end.

Mr. Softy: Google got to you, didn't it?

Craigslist: Man, you really do have no idea about what we're trying to accomplish here.

The fact that eBay owns a minority stake in Craigslist wasn't condoned by the majority stakeholders, but if Yahoo! or Microsoft falsely believes that snapping up eBay will help on that front, it would probably be going about things the wrong way to do the right thing.

No, there isn't anything wrong with that. You can be wrong in theory but right in reality. It's a lot like Google and the July market-share data. It looks troubling on the surface, but Google is so far from being pitied as an underdog these days.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a huge fan of Google, and it would be his homepage if not for Fool.com taking up that piece of real estate. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story.The Fool has a disclosure policy.