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Research and Statistics

There’s plenty of research being done on various aspects of web usage, but a number of surveys track the use of search engines and how users find information. As with many aspects of the web, most research comes from the US, but UK research also bears out the results being found.

Finding new information on the web.

A series of surveys by the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US tracked how users found new websites. The last survey at the end of 1998 showed that 85% of users found information through search engines and 58% used directories.

Source: GVU Survey, 1998

Although these much-quoted results are now quite dated, a similar result emerged from a survey of UK web users conducted by Forrester Research in Spring 2000. This showed that 81% of users found new websites by using search engines. Quite simply, ask yourself how you would begin to find a new source of information on the web and search engines are likely to be the answer!

Source: UK Internet User Monitor, 2000 from Forrester Research

The success of search engines in producing results.

Another tracking survey from the US monitors the effectiveness of search engines in generating the results that users need. NPD conducts this research on behalf of some of the top search engines and uses an online sample of more than 30,000 respondents. The latest figures show that 81% of people using search engines find the information they need every time or most of the time.

Of those who didn’t find the correct information, 77% would conduct a different search on the same search engine.

NPD also asks how users search for information. The results show that 45% search by using multiple keywords or key phrases, 28% use one keyword, 18% search by a pre-defined option (such as browsing through a directory category) and 9% search by typing in a question.

Source: NPD