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Research and Statistics

There's plenty of research being done on various aspects of web usage, but a number of surveys track the use of search engines and how users find information. As with many aspects of the web, most research comes from the US, but UK research also bears out the results being found.

Finding new information on the web.

A series of surveys by the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US tracked how users found new websites. The last survey at the end of 1998 showed that 85% of users found information through search engines and 58% used directories.

Source: GVU Survey, 1998

Although these much-quoted results are now quite dated, a similar result emerged from a survey of UK web users conducted by Forrester Research in Spring 2000. This showed that 81% of users found new websites by using search engines. Quite simply, ask yourself how you would begin to find a new source of information on the web and search engines are likely to be the answer!

Source: UK Internet User Monitor, 2000 from Forrester Research

The success of search engines in producing results.

Another tracking survey from the US monitors the effectiveness of search engines in generating the results that users need. NPD conducts this research on behalf of some of the top search engines and uses an online sample of more than 30,000 respondents. The latest figures show that 81% of people using search engines find the information they need every time or most of the time.

Of those who didn't find the correct information, 77% would conduct a different search on the same search engine.

NPD also asks how users search for information. The results show that 45% search by using multiple keywords or key phrases, 28% use one keyword, 18% search by a pre-defined option (such as browsing through a directory category) and 9% search by typing in a question.

Source: NPD

The importance of a high ranking.

Delving further into how users retrieve information from the web, research has shown that people rarely go beyond the top 30 results listed from a search. In fact, the top 30 results get over 90% of search traffic and the top 10 results receive nearly 80% more traffic than those in positions 11-30 achieve.

Research published by Penn State University in June 2003 also showed that web users typically visited only the first three results from a query, with one in five searchers spending 60 seconds or less on a linked web document.

This clearly demonstrates that to generate traffic to your website, it needs to be visible when web users are searching for your type of product or service. What's more, if users find your site quite easily and you are offering something relevant to their needs, then they will also feel positive about your company!

Search engine placement and web marketers.

Looking at search engines from the marketing angle, a survey of web marketers by I-Search produced the results that just under 99% of them optimised their pages before submitting to search engines and then 84% completed their submissions manually. Of these marketers, 60% did so because they knew that manual submissions were more effective and 26% thought they were more effective.

Source: I-Search

The popularity of search engines.

A number of research organisations track the volume of traffic on the web, either specifically on search engines, or on the largest web sites (which tends to include the main portals and search engines). These regular surveys illustrate the volume of web traffic that the top search engines receive. The three main services are comScore Media Metrix, Nielsen//Netratings and StatMarket.

A useful summary of these surveys and an analysis of their results can be found on Danny Sullivan's Search Engine Watch.

To find out how your website can achieve the most from search engine usage, please contact us for more information or to request a FREE website assessment.