Search behavior of Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL users were looked at in a recent search engine user behavioral study performed by search enigne marketing firm iProspect.
*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
Note, MSN results do not clearly mark their sponsored listings as so, which may have had a huge effect on this study. MSN lists internally sold sponsored links as well as partnered Overture links as their top search results. Google AdWords and Yahoo Overture ads may be clearly marked or separated, leading to more use of organic results.
*AOL users identified both natural search results and paid search advertisements equally as often as the most relevant
Looking specifically at the two largest search engines, according to market share, it is vital for online marketers to ensure that their Web pages are found in the natural search results of Google and Yahoo! More than 60 percent of Yahoo! users and over 72 percent of Google users clicked on a natural search result when looking for the most relevant listing for their query.
“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.
“This could bode well for Yahoo!’s revenue picture because, like Google, they receive the majority of their clicks in the natural results and unlike Google, Yahoo! has a way to monetize the actual search results through their Site Match Xchange program” said Robert Murray, President of iProspect. “What is interesting is that the Google IPO filing document stated that 95% of Google’s revenues come from their paid search ads – while the results of the iProspect survey indicates that less than 30% of their visitors click on those ads. Imagine the impact on Google’s revenues if they could find a way to get more people to click on their paid advertisements.”