Behavioral Differences, Aging Population Changing Search

It appears that older users are more skeptical and willing to look for a variety of answers to their questions on Google, whereas younger users want their question answered as quickly as possible.

These nuances in behavior will change the future of search. Findings from the data released this week from Path Interactive shows variances in the use of search based on age, experience, and services.

Data analyzing the use of Featured Snippets and Knowledge Panel -- two of Google’s organic services in search -- vary greatly based on age. The majority of searchers, at 37%, say their behavior depends on the content. About 22.1% will read the content in the snippet and click on the associated blue link for information. Only 22.1% acknowledge that they generally read the snippet and consider their question answered without clicking the link.

Path Interactive conducted a survey of 1,400 “average searchers” to better understand how they search, how they feel about Google’s search results, and the quality of information the search engine provides.

Some 72% of respondents were based in the U.S., 8% in India, and 10% in Europe or the U.K. Some 67.8% considered themselves somewhat tech-savvy or not tech-savvy at all, and 71.3% were under the age of 40.

About 77% of the respondents said they search on Google three times per day. Some 14% said they search between one and three times per day, and 7% said they search between five and 10 times per day.

The majority of searchers prefer clicking on organic results rather than advertisements, and 72% of respondents say they either click only on organic results or on organic results the majority of the time.

Searchers ages 60 or older are 200% more likely than those between the ages of 18 and 21 not to discriminate between a paid and organic listing. They just click on the best answer.

The majority of respondents who query Google Search remain on the first page to find the answer, whereas 75% either click on the first one or two results, scan page one looking for the most relevant answer to their query, or visit multiple results from page one.

Some 17% stated that part of their search behavior includes looking for content from websites or brands they trust. Seven percent say they browse past the first results page to see as many results as possible.

Younger users are more likely to click on the first couple of results on page one, while older users are more likely to explore additional results.

Trust also plays a role in Feature Snippets. Some 44.5% consider the information “semi-trustworthy,” and continue searching for answers to their questions. Young searchers between the ages of 13 and 30 are 40% more likely than older searchers age 50 and older to trust the information contained in featured snippets. Those ages 13 to 18 are 53% more likely than average to trust featured snippets.

Path Interactive also analyzed answers pertaining to “no click results,” results that are served up in search queries that do not require someone clicking through to another page. They directly answer the question in the search results.

Some 42.7% say they use these features but continue browsing the other search results. Those 50 years and older are 63% more likely to ignore these results and continue their search.

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