Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Changes in searcher behaviour

The Yahoo! Search Marketing blog comments on some of the recent results that emerged from research conducted by JupiterResearch for iProspect in the US (which we reported on last month). The 2 tables shown in the blog entry illustrate how search behaviour has changed over the past 6 years with users apparently becoming more impatient.

For example, in answer to the question of how many results users tend to look at before clicking on a link, 16% in 2002 said 'just a few' whereas in 2008 that figure had increased to 27%. The same figures for those scanning the whole of the first page has also changed from 32% six years ago to 41% this year. These figures also imply that 68% of searchers will tend to click on one or more results within the first page in 2008, compared to 48% in 2002.

A second question, which asked searchers at which point they revised their search query or tried another search engines if they didn't find what they were looking for, shows that in 2002 14% would do this after reviewing just a few results, compared to 23% this year. Those who revised their search after reviewing the first page of results rose from 14% in 2002 to 26% in 2008.

These results do show an interesting trend which may indicate the impatience of searchers, or an improved level of searching skill using more key terms to find a specific result. It can also indicate the improved relevancy of results (and probably more people now using Google) as well as the higher number of optimised sites appearing in the search results and, through highlighted content, appearing to give users the results they are looking for.

Of course the Yahoo! article encourages website owners to target their paid search advertising to create relevant rankings for users and to get first page positions to attract the majority of the search traffic. It also recommends focusing optimisation efforts on all aspects of the 'blended' search results that are now being served up - such as news stories, video, images and local business listings - to ensure that all opportunities are being taken for the website to put itself infront of relevant searchers.

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