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SES NY: The Click-Happy Searcher

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Research is showing that the bulk of Internet users make snap judgments about websites and what links to click. Surfing is instinctual, not calculated. In fact the only ones doing any calculations are marketing researchers who say that a website has an astonishing 50 milliseconds to make an impression, and if no impression is made, the mouse trigger finger gets itchy and starts clicking at will.

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“We don’t really consider our online interaction, we just click,” said Enquiro President and CEO Gord Hotchkiss, moderating a searcher behavior question and answer session at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in New York City.

The panel assembled was an all-star market research team consisting of Alan Rimm-Kaufman of Rimm-Kaufman Group; Diane Rinaldo of Yahoo! Search Marketing; and Greg Sterling of the Kelsey Group.

The group intimated that measuring click-behavior was tricky business because there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. The ease of the back button, or tabbed browsing in some cases, plus the growth of high-speed connections has caused a Boomhauer-type click-happy experience:

“Yeah man, I tell ya what, man. That dang ol’ Internet, man. You just go on there and point and click. Talk about W-W-dot-W-com. An’ lotsa nekkid chicks on there, man. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. It’s real easy, man,” says Boomhauer.

One of the panelists caused a chuckle in the crowd when he said, “you could run an ad that said ‘bad prices, bad products’ and people would keep clicking.”

The challenge this type of clicking behavior presents is that it becomes difficult to find order in chaos. Getting inside the searchers head to find their intent is a murky business.

Hotchkiss did echo the “Men are from Google, Women are From Yahoo!” sentiment by stating that the way we interact with search engines is a male-type interaction-men find what they’re looking for and leave. Women, who respond better to MSN than Google according to Hotchkiss, more often seek out communities like Women.com.

But the main point, especially considering the short length of time a web-marketer has of making an impression, is finding a way to get the customer in a mindset that you are getting them closer to their intent and not farther away.

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