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Search Engine User Study and Student Use

The April 2006 iProspect Search Engine User Behavior Study is here. It’s a readable 17 page report reviewing.
We’ve seen such stats before and know that the sweet spot for search engine marketers is the top pages of results. It’s especially desirable to put your site in the top of the list above the fold on the first page.
One key result is that it found that 62% of search engine users click on a search result within the first page of results, and a full 90% of users click on a result within the first three pages of search results.
It also reports on what users do when the don’t find results. 41% change their search term after seeing the first page. 88% do so after 3 pages. 82% re-launch their search in the same search engine. 41% abandon their search if it’s not successful at first. There is a load of data here about real consumer use. We need to know if library users are any different.
However, I mention this in the context of something I harp on regularly when I am out and about. Why is Google investing so much in Google Scholar and Google College? Why has Microsoft launched the beta of Windows Live Academic?
These are pretty amazing baby products. Google Scholar is even giving ISI citation indicators a run for their money. MSN has started with some pretty prestigious content from Reed Elsevier. Students are using them. Do they have the social good in their mandate? What company has to tell their employees not to do evil in their mission statement? Then again, doctors are excoriated to first do no harm.
Anyway, I think that the reason Google and Microsoft are so interested in scholarly research sites is that it attracts the real sweet spot for advertisers. (Advertisers are their real customer after all.) If a site can attract a demographic that is primarily in the 15-30 years old range and those folks are the most likely to get good jobs, have higher incomes and spend more on a wider range of products, then that site can charge more for it’s ad clicks. These are the Millennials at this point and are a generation as large as the Boomers. Advertisers salivate at getting to them. It’s also why there is so much interest in MySpace and Facebook et al where entire social networks of this group congregate.
Either way, there’s plenty of motivation to get more folks to an academic experience at MS and Google. And it’s not the same motivation as libraries. If you can charge a premium for ads delviered to this group, you can keep your revenue growth accelerating. Follow the money.
Other iProspect white papers are listed here.

Posted on: April 18, 2006, 7:13 am Category: Uncategorized

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