Search Engine Behavior, Who Does What?


Searches can be tedious, but if first you don't succeed, modify the keyword terms. That's the strategy for 89% of consumers who will try and try again until they find the answer in queries, though 79% say they will go to multiple search pages if necessary. Others might try multiple engines, according to the 2010 Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Insights Study released Tuesday from Performics and Publicis Groupe. Only 19% abandon the online search, taking it offline if they can't find the information.

The study, conducted in June by ROI Research, explores how 500 consumers from the Greenfield Online panel of more than 3 million households use the Internet to conduct searches, and to what extent they use new search engine tools.

Nearly four in ten searched more than 20 times during the past week, with Google users, 43%, and younger respondents more likely to do so. Fifty four percent of those ages 18 to 29 search more than 20 times weekly, followed by 30 to 39 at 53%, and 40 to 49 at 36%. From there it drops to 28% and 26% for ages 50 to 59 and 60 or older, respectively.

Performics' CEO Daina Middleton points to the fact Google increasingly finds queries of seven words or longer. "This SERP study confirms search remains vital for brands wanting greater visibility in the market place to capture demand for participants who raise their hand by typing in a search query," she says. "Also, it's important to remember the search engine results page remains an important component to the overall marketing strategy."

Loyalty counts, too. And there's no surprise here. Google commands more user loyalty than Yahoo or Bing, but those who use Google as their primary engine use an alternate search engine at least occasionally. When survey participants were asked to name the search engine used most of the time, beginners said Yahoo. That should give the Microhoo duo some breathing room to capture market share; if not now, then in the long run.

When it comes to research, 83% of consumers participating in the survey admit to using search engines to find a specific manufacturer or product Web site, and 80% say they use that information to make purchases online. Consumers, 78%, also use search engines to learn about a product after seeing an advertisement. Coupons and specials are also popular, as 63% search online for discounts.

People who search on Yahoo are most likely to look at natural and sponsored results first, before other parts and features in the SERP. More than 30% of consumers searching on Bing roll over pop-up previews.

Images are powerful. More than one-half of survey respondents say they are more likely to click on an ad if it includes an image. Nearly half are more likely to click if a company or brand appears multiple times. Surprisingly, video doesn't lure the consumer, according to the study.

Survey respondents also say they are most influenced by a search result's description and title. The description holds 75% influence, followed by the title at 73% and URL at 60%. Also, the distance between the ad and the organic search result influences the click by 45%.

When it comes to SERP components, survey respondents says they use maps 48% of the time; images, local results, and related searches, 46%; search history, 43%; breaking news, 42%; filtering links, social media, and navigation, 39%; and video, 36%.

But marketers still have lots of work to do. One-third of people searching on the Web don't know the difference between natural, paid search and sponsored search results. The survey did find that those ages 18 to 29 are most likely aware of the difference. The genders skew more toward males knowing the difference, rather than females.

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