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Search Engine Users Find Natural Search Results Most Relevant

Staff Writer
Published: 2004-05-04

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A survey conducted by iProspect found that more than 60 percent of Yahoo users and over 72 percent of Google users clicked on a natural search results when looking for the most relevant listing for their query. Natural search results are non-advertisement listings that are returned when a keyword is queried.

User desire for natural search results have caused advertisers to alter their approach to search engine ads in order to ensure that their Web pages are found in the natural search results of Google and Yahoo.

"These findings clearly indicate that in both search engines there is a wide gap between natural search preference and paid advertisement preference. This means marketers who fail to optimize for natural search or human-edited paid inclusion neglect a large percentage of user clicks and the relevant traffic," stated iProspect CEO, Fredrick Marckini.

Other findings from iProspect's Search Engine User Attitudes Survey included:

*60.5 percent of Google, Yahoo!, MSN and AOL users selected a natural search result over paid search advertisements as the most relevant on a sample query

*60.8 percent of Yahoo! and 72.3 percent of Google search engine users chose a natural search result as the most relevant

*71.2 percent of MSN users clicked on a paid search advertisement as the most relevant to their search

*AOL users identified both natural search results and paid search advertisements equally as often as the most relevant

Speculation as to why MSN users have such a high advertiser click rate comes from the presentation of MSN search results. Some observers feel that MSN users may not be able to differentiate between paid search results from natural results.

"This could be attributed to how pay per click (PPC) ads are identified within MSN's returned results. Users who may shy away from paid search listings when they see them may have difficulty distinguishing between the two types of results. Despite this potential case of mistaken identity, the survey shows it is important to have a strong paid search advertisement presence in this specific search engine," Marckini added.

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