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Pew Internet Search Engine User Study Data

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Pew / Internet released a report January 23rd about internet search engine users. The title of the report is Internet Searchers Are Confident, satisfied and trusting – but they are also unaware and naive.

Regarding The Search Experience

  1. 84% of internet users have used search engines. On any given day, 56% of those online use search engines.
  2. 92% of those who use search engines say they are confident about their searching abilities, with over half of them, 52%, saying they are ‘very confident’.
  3. 87% of searchers say they have successful search experiences most of the time, including some 17% of users who say they always find the information for which they are looking.
  4. 68% of users say that search engines are a fair and unbiased source of information; 19% say they don’t place that trust in search engines.

The numbers that stick out to me are the 17% that say they ALWAYS find what they’re looking for and the 19% that don’t place trust in the engines. The 17% that say they always find what they’re looking for is too high, honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever found exactly what I was looking for much less always found it. The 19% that don’t trust the engines is also important because trust is the biggest factor in online browsing and purchasing. This points to the paid vs organic listings and the confusion there in.

More stats from the Pew report about search engine users naive -ness

  1. 38% of searchers are aware of a distinction between paid and unpaid results; 62% are not.
  2. 18% of searchers overall (47% of searchers who are aware of the distinction) say they can always tell which results are paid or sponsored and which are not.
  3. 70% of searchers are okay with the concept of paid or sponsored results.
  4. 45% of searchers would stop using search engines if they thought the engines weren’t being clear about offering some results for pay.

I guess the 62% that aren’t aware of the difference between organic results and paid results need to voice their opinions to the major engines.

A broader user base and increased web content have altered the landscape of what we search for.

This is one reason I’m all about search engines based on vertical markets and why tailoring an algorithm to a particular vertical market is going to yield much more relevant results than using a shotgun approach to searching and indexing the web. I think Michael’s onto something with his new engine.

From the Pew Report…

“One category of particular interest is commerce. There is no exact way to measure the number of commercial searches, but at least one statistic gives us an idea of the scope of commercial searching: comScore Networks reports that 40% ” 45% of search queries now include sponsored results.10 While it may not be the case that all these search queries were launched with commerce in mind, the search terms used were close enough to warrant a commercial opportunity in the returns.”

The report surveyed 2,200 adults, 18 & older and was written up by Deborah Fallows. Thanks to Greg for the tip.

Jason Dowdell is a technology entrepreneur and operates the Marketing Shift blog.

Pew Internet Search Engine User Study Data
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