Searcher Behavior

A new study from iAquire and SurveyMonkey highlights searcher behavior — not professional searchers but the general web searchers. While the focus is on marketing for retail sites, it has some useful for informational findings as well. I found the following sad but not surprising:

  • 40% of searching activity is shopping (e-commerce), but
  • 65% don’t click on ads, or at least say they don’t since
  • 50% of those who do click on ads can’t differentiate the ads from regular search results.

On the positive side, I was surprised (but pleased) to hear that 90% of users will view the second page of search results.

For another depressing view of searcher behavior, see Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox: March 16, 2013  which starts off with this rather negative quote:

“Users are incredibly bad at finding and researching things on the web . . . and they’ve only gotten worse over time.”

Such evaluations of general searcher skills should be incentive for us to teach search more effectively and frequently and encourage a greater understanding of search strategies and techniques. However, Jakob continues with a more pessimistic interpretation:

“It would certainly be nice if schools would get better at teaching kids how to search. But I don’t hold out much hope. . . . .most people today can’t think up good queries without help.”

For those of us who search frequently and professionally but also need to help others, both of these studies are useful reminders about searcher behavior and patterns as well as providing some interesting examples of how e-commerce sites try to help less-than-stellar searchers.

Here is an infographic summary of the iAquire study. iAcquire Search Behavior Study
iAcquire Search Behavior Study

Posted in Searcher Research
One comment on “Searcher Behavior
  1. Chris S. Cornell says:

    I’d love to see a more in-depth study on this subject. One of the biggest mistakes people make (and it was made in this infographic) is to believe you can answer the question “Is search advertising effective?” with statistics about the percentage of people who click on ads. Particularly when you are using PPC (pay per click) advertising, you really don’t care about the percentage of people who click on the ads — you only care if the return on an average click exceeds the cost per click.

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