Why people use search engines?

In 2012 the world made 1.2 trillion searches on Google. What do we turn to search engines for information?

Why we ask search engines for information?

Everyone uses a search engine for one of two reasons. Hoping to resolve some problem, is the first, or, secondly, to achieve some goal which is usually linked with expanding knowledge. Choosing correct keywords to represent information, however, proves difficult for people.

Clay and Esparza take a different approach as to why people use search engines. They conclude that there are three categories:

Research
This is linked to looking for answers to queries, as well as, finding data or information to make a decision.
Shopping
Usually these transactional queries use phrases, such as, “best price” or “free shipping”, for instance.
Entertainment
The vast information on the addictive web means people will happily spend a long time on a search engine to find various entertaining sources.

One study analysed the impact of task phrasing and found that different phrases produces different results. This is important for digital marketers, for instance, because they need to think of the various ways people ask for the same information.

It is a good idea to think about the 4 types of web search queries (informational, navigational, transactional and connectivity) and match these to your website. Knowing about keyword searching allows you to make your website visible for more search queries. This, in turn, allows more people to discover your site which allows your organisation to grow organically.

Processed information allows us to have wisdom.

Data, information, knowledge and wisdom.

Presentation of SERP

  • Position and relevance of results changes how a searcher examines the information they asked for
  • Search queries and snippets go hand-in-hand because long snippets lead to better search performance for informational tasks but degrade navigational performance

It is also worth noting, through click-though rates, that we are biased towards highly ranked results. When we ask for information and the results appear to be relevant to our search query approximately 33% of us are likely to click the first organic link. It is a good idea to monitor the rank and position of your keywords.

If you are checking what position keywords appear remember to minimise personalised results by using, for example, incognito browsing mode, cookie removing software and sign out of your user account. Everyone’s results are different due to personalisation.

Analysing user’s search behaviour allows us to conclude that most people, on average, search for 2-3 keywords. Think about what your audience will write and see where you rank for these terms.

Why do you use search engines? Tweet Gerald.

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References

  1. Barsky, E. and Bar-Ilan, J. (2011) The impact of task phrasing on the choice of search keywords and on the search process and success. Journal of American Society for Information Science and Technology. 63(10) pp. 1987–2005
  2. Belkin, N.J. (2000) Helping people find what they don’t know. Communication of the ACM. 43(8)
  3. Clay, B. and Esparza, S. (2012) Search engine optimization all-in-one for dummies. John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, NJ.
  4. Zeitgeist. (no date) 2012 Search Trends: The World.
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