Posted June 29, 2007 11:12 am by with 9 comments

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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.

Anyone shocked?

  • I agree, indeed. For reasons being, Google is simple and no image or banners ads when searching. Google is also mostly text based rather than graphical, which makes it a lot faster in performance.

    I like Yahoo’s search suggestions if I want to find similar searches based on the search keyword I entered.

    Nice piece of information you have.

    Keep it up!

  • Well it would be interesting to know what type of queries were tested. That could make a big diff.

  • I’m not shocked with this one but I wish Ask would have been included in the study. I think Ask is on the right track with their presentation of results. This is not to say Ask inclusion would have changed the results of the study though, I’m sure most people chose the engine they usually use and you all know where that would put Ask.

  • Jim

    As Jaan asked “Well it would be interesting to know what type of queries were tested. That could make a big diff”

    Yes, it would be interesting but since Andy only saw fit to scrape a news item from local newspaper and not bother to source the item you’ll have to find it yourself.

    Andy, your link is misleading “conduct a study” as if I were to click on it I would actually see the study you’re “reporting”, wrong – takes me to the orginal news item that you have quoted almost word for word.

    Way to blog.

  • A lot of search results is better or quality of search results better?

  • Quality is better, but to have quality you have to have a large inventory.

  • Hmm… 32 participants aren’t exactly a large sample size. Google is the most entrenched right now in the search space as far as branding is concerned. However, it’s not inconceivable that a new startup with a paradigm-shifting approach to search can trump Google in the future. It won’t be easy, but that’s not to say that it will be impossible.

  • Not shocked at all. It’s al word of mouth. It would have been interesting to se the other engines look & feel.

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