“How do searchers find what they want online?” Tony Whittaker links to a very interesting article for those engaging in search engine optimization. The current issue of Web Evangelism Bulletin reports on a story from a search engine recent conference. Read the full article online.
The article reports some very interesting things. The study monitored volunteers as they performed tasks to identify products. Some of the findings I thought very interesting:
- Most people click on one of the top 3 listings.
- More than half click on the first sponsored link.
- People don’t usually start searching for brand names, but for products.
- 60% click on one of the first 3 organic listings (the natural search results which come from search engine optimization work).
- 85% click on one of the first 3 sponsored listings (the results which come from purchasing ad words).
The final two points are amazing to me. I would have expected people to prefer natural results more than sponsored listings. I do. Maybe it’s because this study was for product searches, not “quality of life” type searches (how do I raise teenagers, understanding Star Wars Episode III, etc).
I really liked the closing observation:
From time to time people type in same search string trying to get new answer.” It seems the only hope is for smarter search engines, rather than smarter users, she added with a smile
It seems that people trust frequent improvements in search technology more than improvements in their search techniques. It also means that even if you’re not in the top 3 results (natural or sponsored), keep working on it. You may be there when the same person searches for the same search string tomorrow.
What strikes you about this study?
[By the way, if you are not subscribed to Tony’s Web Evangelism Bulletin, why not? To join, send a blank email to mailto:email@example.com.]
Anne Kennedy did a poor job on reporting on this at SearchEngineWatch and thus created this confusion.
The latest data from Enquiro shows the opposite to your conclusion. It has actually been determined that “72.3% of people using Google choose the organic results over the sponsored results.”
What the article was showing was that 85% of the 100% of people that choose a sponsored result choose one of the top 3 sponsored results. Additionally, it shows with SEO (organic results) that it is the compelling text that a person sees as they scan down the page that helps more effectively create a click through than the positions alone. Why? Because most people view the page in an “F” viewing pattern… (see link: http://ww1.prweb.com/prfiles/2005/02/28/213516/cropped.jpg) —
The correct conclusion is that orangic results are best and the key is to be above the fold (top 5 or 6) with compelling content. If you don’t have organic results, then you must be in the top 3 sponsored links to aggregate an audience effectively.
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