Understanding consumer search engine behaviour

Search marketing firm iProspect conducted research on how we search; the results are instructive:

• Over half of Internet users search at least once a day.

• 81.7% will start a new search if they cannot find a relevant answer in the first 3 pages (typically 30 results). So, to some extent, it is a myth that if you are not in the top 10 you will receive no visitors - it depends on the quality and relevance of the listing also. The detailed figures were: 22.6% try another search after first few results; a further 18.6% after reviewing the first page (41.2% cumulative); 25% after checking the first two pages (67% cumulative); and 14.6% the first three pages (81.7% cumulative).

• Users tend to choose the natural search results in preference to the paid search listings; according to a sample figures for selection of natural search were 60.8% for Yahoo! and 72.3% for Google. This figure increases for experienced users. This suggests that companies that concentrate on paid listings only are limiting their visibility.

• Around half use search toolbars from one of the providers such as Google, Yahoo! or MSN (these are plug-ins for searching which are added to the browser).

Source: iProspect research, Spring 2004 (www.iprospect.com)

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