Sunday, December 04, 2005

Searching skills and understanding search results

A recent announcement by the European search engine Seekport, based on a survey of search users that it commissioned makes interesting reading. While the survey focused on European and UK-based users, I am willing to wager that a similar lack of understanding of search results as well as web searching skills in other parts of the world as well.

Obviously, that has implications on search engine marketers, both, those who engage in search engine optimization as well as those who carry out paid search engine marketing.

Question is to what extent can search marketers factor in this ignorance into their marketing?

Manoj Aravindakshan
On Target Media & Marketing

P.S: Details of the announcement from Seekport give below.


UK suffers from lack of web searching skills
- A quarter of search engine users couldn’t explain why they used the search engine they do and half use only one search engine -

European search engine Seekport has found that a significant number of UK internet users still struggle to understand and use internet search engines effectively. A third of UK web users surveyed said they get too many American sites returned when they search and half only use one search engine.

Although half of UK web users depend upon a single search engine, their choice is often independent of the quality of results. 46% said they use their preferred search engine partly because it is a well known brand, 24% said they use it out of habit and 19% use it because it is the default homepage on their browser. Only 8% said they used their choice of search engine because it delivers good results for their work or hobby. Nearly a third (30%) of those surveyed could not agree with the statement that their chosen search engine finds the information they need.

The strong dependence on a single search engine is surprising, since 97% of those surveyed could name more than one search engine, 80% could name more than two and 66% could name four or more. Seven or more search engines could be named by 16% of those surveyed. The most popular search engine named was Google.

Adverts placed against search results and triggered by the keywords entered are an increasingly popular revenue stream for search engines, but they are confusing users. A third of respondents cannot tell which links are sponsored. Of those who can identify a sponsored link, half say they never use the sponsored links.

“We’ve discovered that 45% of internet users think all search engines are the same, but they’re wrong,” says Nick Morley, head of UK sales for Seekport. “A common complaint, cited by a third of the people in the UK that we spoke to, is that search engines deliver too many US results. Since many of the major search engines are US-based, that’s not surprising. But there are alternative search engines, such as which is backed by a UK-based index quality team. People should remember that they can choose their search engine each time they make a search.”

He adds: “Users are often familiar with several search engines, but stick to a single engine arbitrarily. To use the web effectively, it’s important to understand the personality of the different engines available, and use the right tools for different kinds of searches.”

Seekport relaunched its European search engine in October simultaneously in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy. The search engine includes a web search, blog search, reference source search, image search and product search. The Seekport UK index is managed by a quality assurance team based in the UK. Seekport is available for incorporation into content-rich websites as a white label archive and web search engine. Seekport UK is at

About the survey

The survey was conducted by Prompt Communications Ltd in central London between 24 October and 28 October 2005. Survey respondents were stopped and asked clarifying questions to ensure that they were computer users and had an internet connection. A full copy of the survey results is available by emailing


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