Brits don't understand search engines

Sat 13 December 2008 14:30, Bas van den Beld

Brits don't understand search engines

Almost a quarter of all Brits believe that search engine results cannot be influenced by website owners. Almost the same amount of UK-residents believe that the order of the results is based on how much a website pays a search engine.

These are some off the results from the Online Search Matters Survey done in assignment off FastHosts. According to the research almost all Brits use search engines, but most of them "either have no idea or an inaccurate view of how online search results are determined".

The survey-results show that most consumers have no idea of how search results are presented to them. Almost 20% of the questioned customers admitted to have no clue of how search results are ranked. About 5% believes results are presented at random. According to the press release British men understand search engines a little bit more than women.

In other areas Brits probably won't differ much from other countries. As is other countries they trust the organic results more than they trust the sponsored results. A third believes the paid results are 'less worth' and 'less usefull'.

Two-thirds says they look at the organic results first and a third totally ignores the paid results. Women (40%) seem to do this more than men (35%).

The research was done on a group of 1636 respondents, interviewed by Ticketbox. The interviews took place in November via electronic feedback forms.

Howsearchengineswork

The results of the survey may seem surprising but have to be interpreted with a some things in mind. First of all we have to ask how important it is if consumers really understand the way search engines work. It's important for marketers to know how search engines "think" and it's important for them to know that some consumers won't understand why a result is in the number 1 spot in the search engine. Second, if we do want consumers to understand better what's going on we will have to teach them and then we will have to take in account that they do know how it works so they will interpret the results in a different way.

Finally, we already know people trust the organic results more than they trust the paid results, so that is no shocking news. Search engines do have to be more clear about which results are paid and which are not though.

So some Brits may not understand the way search engines work. Are they different from other countries? Probably not. In every country you will most probably get similar results when doing a survey like this.


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