Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology conducted a study in which they gave participants identical search results, but wrapped in the brands of Google, Yahoo, Windows Live Search and generic in-house search engine. Not surprisingly, participants favored the results that appeared to be from Google and Yahoo.
Then the identical search results were shown to 32 study participants who were asked to evaluate the engines’ performance in returning relevant results.
Despite the results being identical in content and presentation, participants indicated Yahoo! and Google outperformed MSN Live Search and the in-house search engine.
Since there was no difference in the search results, all of the search engines should have received the same score, said Assistant Professor Jim Jansen, who led the study.
So, we learn that searchers have associated Google and Yahoo with better quality search results, regardless of the actual quality of the results.