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Metasearch Offers Best Results, Study Shows


By Brittany Thompson

Those looking for the most accurate search engine results pages should stick to metasearch – at least according to a study that was released on May 31st by InfoSpace.

Different Engines, Different Results was the title of the study (word doc), which was a cross-continental collaboration examining overlap and differences in rankings between industry leaders including Google, Yahoo!, Windows Live and Ask.

Some of the information contained in the study echoes what we’ve known for years. The fact that searchers still don’t always find what they are looking for online is more of a burden (both to searchers and to e-business owners) than a surprise.

A few informative gems were revealed, though, by the InfoSpace statistics. The gap between first page search results for the same query across four leading search engines demonstrated vast differences. Over 19,000 search queries were performed by users during the study, yet less than 0.6 percent of the first page results were the same across the leading single search engines for each of those queries. This number has dropped significantly since 2005, when a similar study showed 3.2 percent of first page results overlapped.

Not all search engines are created equal, concludes InfoSpace, the company behind the metasearch engine Dogpile [Andy's note - keep this in mind, when reading the study]. While each search engine provides quality results, the results themselves are also unique depending on the function of the search engine itself. As the industry evolves, searchers are finding less of what they need on the first results pages.

What do the results mean for business owners? Up to 34 – 46 percent of all searches provide results that don’t lead to clicks on the first page. Obviously, searchers are becoming more aware that the first page results aren’t necessarily the most accurate, and that there are multiple engines to choose from with quality results.

Today’s savvy searchers are turning to as many as three search engines each month to fulfill their queries – which reiterates the importance of high rankings on multiple industry-leading engines.

About Brittany Thompson

Brittany Thompson is the founder of SEOForumWatch.com as well as a graphic and web designer. In addition to writing for Marketing Pilgrim, she’s been published by WebProNews and WebProWorld.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/wordpress/ Michael Martinez

    The study looks at 2005 data, which was relevant in 2005. Both Google (which has redesigned its search service twice since then) and Yahoo! have implemented numerous significant changes, and Ask recently announced it will replace its ExpertRank algorithm with its proposed Edison algorithm.

    Dogpile should study 2007 queries and publish the results in 2007.

  • Jordan McCollum

    The study says, “Dogpile.com conducted new overlap research in April 2007 with researchers from Queensland University of Technology and the Pennsylvania State University. . . and measured 19,332 user-entered search queries.”

    The thing that gets me about studies like this is that evaluating the quality, not quantity, of results is very subjective. Is someone searching for “oneida” more likely to be looking for silverware, the communal group, the place, the Native Americans? Which results are “better”?

    Having unique results isn’t necessarily bad, either. I’ll take that over having more results than I really know what to do with–or having sponsored results (Target, BizRate) right in with the natural listings (I’m looking at you Dogpile, even if you do label them).