A just-published survey, The iProspect Search Engine User Behavior Study, on people’s expectations when searching for information on the web illustrates an evident fact about behaviour – a majority of people (62%) will use the results they find in the first page of information that their search produces.
The survey also shows that even more people (90%) click on a result within the first three pages of search results.
I wonder what they mean by ‘page.’ Do they really mean screen, ie, what you see on your computer monitor? That’s not the same as a page which might involve clicking the scroll bar a couple of times or more to see a whole page of information.
In my case, for instance, I have my Google preferences set to show 50 results per page. That way, I just have to click that scroll bar a maximum of twice to see that whole page (of course, a lot depends on your monitor size and screen resolution). Google’s default is to show 10 results per page, so to see 50 you’d need to click at least 4 times to look at 5 pages plus the scrolling to get to that ‘next page’ link.
So I’m assuming they mean ‘screen’ as, with most search engines, reviewing three pages of results involves an awful lot of mouse clicking or wheel scrolling. And, one of the key points that the survey indicates is that people don’t generally want to click or scroll a lot to find what they’re looking for.
If I don’t find what I’m looking for on my first attempt (and I will wheel-scroll or click that scroll bar twice if I don’t get what I want ‘above the fold’), I’ll use a meta-search tool like Copernic which searches via multiple search engines at once. If I don’t find what I’m looking for in Google, a Copernic multi-engine search usually turns up what I’m looking for in the first screenful of information (and if that doesn’t produce what I’m looking for, it’s usually because I haven’t defined my search terms well enough).
Still, the survey does illustrate an important point for marketers whether it means pages or screens:
[…] The key findings of the iProspect Search Engine User Behavior Study all point to the increased importance of being found on the first three pages of search results. Couple these findings with the 2005 Jupiter Research finding that 87% of commercial clicks take place on the natural (not sponsored) search results, and it becomes even clearer how critical top rankings are to companies being successful on the Web.
Search Engine Watch has a good commentary on this survey, and also links to a separate UK-specific survey by Harvest Digital. A notable result from that UK survey according to SEW: only 24% reported using a single search engine with 20% saying they regularly used four or more.