Do People Always Search To Be Sent To Another Site?

from the questions,-questions dept

Mashable points us to a study done by online research firm Compete about which search engines do better in "search fulfillment." That is, what percentage of search queries on a particular search engine lead to someone clicking through to a search result. Yahoo clearly beats out Google (who then beats Microsoft). The theory, then, is that Yahoo does a better job pointing people to what they want to know about, since more of the queries end up in clickthroughs -- and that may certainly be true. However, it's not the only explanation. John Battelle weighs in to suggest that Google users may simply refine their queries a few times before clicking through to the desired results. Another possibility is one that happens to me all the time: if I'm searching for information and not a website, I may not need to clickthrough at all. I can just see the information needed in the snipped found in the search. So you could read the study as saying that Microsoft and Google provide more relevant snippets than Yahoo. The truth is probably somewhere in between, so while this data is interesting, as an aggregate number, it probably doesn't tell us very much.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 12:39am

    Also, I habitually click google's cached page link and don't visit sites that have had their cached pages removed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 2:08am

    I also frequently use Google's built-in conversion calculator.

    Try typing "60 mph in furlongs per fortnight" (without the quotes) in the Google search box for an example. I think it only works from the Google page itself, though - not the Google search bar in your browser.

    I don't know if using the Google calculator counts as a "search", but it certainly doesn't lead to a click-through, since the answer's right there on the results page.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    phil, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 2:18am


    The more I look, the more I believe that Google is used by the more tech savvy, while the slightly less discerning searcher uses Yahoo. So I think this boils down to discernment. Simply put, fewer Google users click through indiscriminately. Regardless of whether the snippet suggests they have a good result.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Walter M, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 3:12am

    Thumbnails for faster and better finding

    I use the girafa thumbnail toolbar to search and find all i need. the thumbnails helps in finding the information you are looking for faster

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Todd, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 4:33am

    I'll use Google as a spell check sometimes. If I'm not sure about a word, I type it in, and if it comes back "did you mean xxx" then I get the correct spelling.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Jeremy Boyd, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 4:43am

    Calculator & dictionary

    @2: It works just fine via the toolbar. I use it all the time. Also, I often use Google as an ad hoc dictionary. Tell Google "define " and quite often the definition you want is the first result. No clickthroughs there, and the definitions most certainly count as searches.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 5:29am

    stupid Vs ... not stupid...

    From working at an ISP for several years, in tech support. i have found that about 75%+ of 'Stupid' or, 'Very computer/interweb illiterate' people use yahoo.

    but those who know how to remotely use their computer or remotely use the internet. use google.

    idiots use yahoo
    competent people use google

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Kenny, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 6:07am

    Re: stupid Vs ... not stupid...

    Couldn't agree more. I think there's actually a geographical split as well. I read today that Google has a 50% (or thereabouts) share of search in the US, whereas in Europe it's more like 75%. Maybe we're more tech savvy here in Europe? :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    krm, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 6:11am

    Age Gap

    Another thing I have noticed is age seems to be a factor. I am from a family of 6 ranging from 35 to 16 (busy parents) it seems all my siblings that are other 26 are drawn to yahoo, and every one that is younger uses google. This kind of ties back to "stupid VS... not stupid" since it seems the younger folks are much better behind anything electronic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Just Me, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 6:30am

    Spell Check

    Just an FYI - if you use Firefox you can actually get spell-check right in the browser so you don't need to use Google.

    I'm sure there's a million IE snap-ins that will do this as well, but I don't use IE.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Tarky7, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 6:42am

    Spell Check , Search and General Web Idiocy

    I use Google to spellcheck all the time.

    I too am looking at the Google's cache, Page Rank and Backward Links.

    The Stupid vs. not Stupid is a very interesting take. I am astounded how many of my clients or people I am doing consulting with use Yahoo. I have several friends who are in the SEM world that only use Yahoo search, because they prefer yahoo mail. I usually associate people who mostly search with Yahoo to be 'less than' in my mind, but I think that is my own prejudice.

    Then, there are a bunch on people I know who only view the web through the AOL browser...

    *throws up hands in frustration*

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Just Me, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 6:52am

    Google VS Yahoo

    Seems just about everyone I know uses Google. I was actually pretty surprised by the article's findings since I know all of 2 people that use Yahoo.

    ...of course almost everyone I know works in IT so...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 7:13am

    Re: Spell Check

    FYI PS: if you use Google toolbar in IE it has spell check built in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Jerk, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 7:13am

    RE: by Anonymous Coward

    Actually, it does work from your Google toolbar. Never knew that before.

    Regardless of who says they have the best search engine, I've always had good luck with Google, and I don't get spam from the services that require email. That's good enough for me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 7:30am

    You guys are nuts!

    Does it really matter? Google and Yahoo! both work fine. Stop pretending there is some intelligence issue related to choice of search engine. I use Google by default but sometimes the Google search results are not that relevant and I try a search on Yahoo and I get better links. Generally they both produce about 5 of 10 results that are the same in the top 10. But I would definitely not recommend Microsoft's offering.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    ~me, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 7:54am


    I've found that people that click through on Yahoo search results also use MySpace a lot. New statistic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    ~me, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 7:56am

    Re: Re: Spell Check

    Woah... IE did something. It'd be really handy if they did something useful for the rest of the web.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Darkstar, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 8:00am

    Tech?,Search Engine? ha ha ha

    Makes no sense
    Typing word on the empty box and hiting one button makes you TECH HA HA AH

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Hua Fang, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 9:03am

    Combining Google's desktop and web search, its synergy comes handy. I'm not too sure that other two (MS and Yahoo)can do the same.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    nipseyrussell, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 9:04am

    i will admit i didnt read the article, but couldnt this be read as Yahoo having WORSE results? if the average click through rate is the number of links clicked divided by the number of searches, then if you had to click through on two different links for every search (because the first one was irrelevant) then the average percentage would be HIGHER for worse results (assuming hitting the back button to the results page isnt counted as a second search)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    dabbler, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 9:11am

    i think that different demographics use different search engines also. Yahoo definately tries to appeal to a different audience, just look at the pop culture headlines on their mainpage. prehaps their audience of less experienced computer users are just worse at getting what they want from a search engine?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Dan, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 9:22am


    People might also be using plugins. I use %2Faddon%2F2517&ei=wm8CR8eXN6G0etnXjNEC&usg=AFQjCNEwEgwQRd7WN7IfeXPNf8ESwjaiQw&sig2=KkVO L8ZXQAK_xXGO1XAoPw googlepedia all the shows a wikipedia entry next to my google search results. 50% of the time, that plus the snippets provide the info i'm looking for.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Tin Ear, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 10:34am

    Google and Hotmail...

    A fair number of years ago (I don't know if it still holds true. Probably not.) I was astounded, no, flabbergasted to hear that the NUMBER ONE search on Google was the word "Hotmail".

    I just hope that the percentage of 'informed internet users' has risen since then.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    John, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 12:43pm


    Not just used for personal searches. What about people who google whack or google hack. They constitute a huge amount of google searches. Since everyone uses google for these, no other search engine would be affected.

    When is the last time someone asked for a cool hack?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 3:29pm

    I have a gmail account and a Yahoo mail account. I use google to search, most of the time, and I use the Yahoo mail account, most of the time, (mainly because I prefer the user interface).

    Frankly, I think the 'google users are more intelligent' argument is a nonsense. Yes, I'm in IT and been in the computer industry for 30 years.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    ScytheNoire, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 1:19am


    I have to agree that click throughs mean nothing. Google has many more uses than just a search engine. I've used no other search engine since Google appeared. It may well be the single greatest thing to ever hit the internet. When compared to other search engines, there is no comparison, Google finds what I was looking for 99% of the time.

    And I do miss Firefox's spellchecker at work, we HAVE to use IE for some stupid reason. Aren't allowed to install our own software, even if it is better. File that under Lame.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    zg, Oct 8th, 2007 @ 1:07pm


    Actually from the toolbar it works even better - shows result without your need to do anything so there is not even a page turn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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