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Would Better Results Make You Switch Search Engines?



By Carrie Hill

A recent JP Morgan poll asked readers what it would take to get those surveyed to switch search engines.  The market share numbers are decidedly in Google’s favor—they were over 72.07% in December ’08—with the next closest being Yahoo! at 17.79%. 

The question being asked is: “What would make you leave Google for greener pastures?”

The results aren’t all that surprising. 45% said “Better Results” would make them change, while the runner up “Nothing Would Make me Change” got 38%.  TechCrunch reports that the sample size was only 776 respondents and recreated the poll to see if they could achieve better results with a larger sample. 

TechCrunch’s poll had 2,177 respondents—already far surpassing JP Morgan’s. 58% said they’d switch if the other search engine had “Results that better match my search terms,” while for the runner up response, 15% said they were “Happy with their current search engine.”

I think better results will always have a serious draw and right now Google has the corner on that market—so much so that results with the Google brand are perceived as more relevant than identical results with other search engines’ logos.

Carrie Hill is the SEO Team leader for Blizzard Internet Marketing where she specializes in optimizing travel, tourism and accommodations websites.

  • http://www.telecombeacon.com/techbuzz/ Shane Floyd

    I hate to say it, but Google still gives me the most relevant results for my queries. The other SE’s will really have to beef up their data bases to drag me away.

    Shane Floyd’s last blog post..Sony Ericsson C510 with Smile Shutter Technology

  • http://blog.ljjones.com LJ Jones

    Better results is all relative. Its like saying better music or better food. Whats better to me may not be better to you. The web is full of tons of information and two people searching the same keyword could be looking for two totally different things. It will be interesting see how search evolves as Google and other try to understand intent as it relates to search.

    LJ Jones’s last blog post..Things that people do on Twitter that bug me

  • http://www.grahamjones.co.uk/ Graham Jones – Internet Psychologist

    Better results was what made people move from the previous market leader, Yahoo.

    However, Google is actually very poor at producing good results – as are all search engines. Almost nobody finds what they are looking for first time and has to repeat their searches using different terms – or advanced search features.

    Google is actually only the best of a very bad bunch.

  • http://www.velvetblues.com Shirley

    Yes, Google is somewhat of a household name and is perceived as synonymous with accurate and ‘the best’. So I doubt many people would REALLY leave Google.

    And then, what really determines better. Google recently introduced the Search Wiki feature which enables users to sort of manipulate their search results. The next thing that they’ll release will probably be some kind of feature that creates custom results per person based on types of links that are chosen from SERPs or based on their Search Wiki responses.

    I don’t think that any search engine will be able to challenge Google anytime soon. We all remember Cuil’s baseless challenge and its utter failure. lol.

    Does anyone think that Google can be dethroned?

    Shirley’s last blog post..How To Make A Favorites Icon (Favicon.ico)

  • http://blog.keithparnell.com/ Keith Parnell

    I think a good follow up question for those polled could be, “what would make ‘better results’ for you?” I’d like to see the answers from the average Internet mom, pop, grandma and grandpa.

  • http://www.rnbhaven.com R&B Love Songs

    This is something that makes me insecure about Google’s future. Sure, the search engine is a hit right now, but really, I don’t know WHY a lot of people use it. I feel like the results aren’t that significantly different between all the search engines to make one considered qualitatively better than another.

    I don’t know what would make people switch, and I don’t think people know why they ever did switch.

  • http://www.newhomessection.com/blog Jayson

    Yeah, better results would make me switch (I guess I’d need to know where the better results were too!)

    Google gives me the best results hands down –

    Jayson’s last blog post..Contest – $50 Plus – Ask A Home Builder

  • http://www.gadgets4nowt.co.uk PS3

    I can’t remember many occasions where Google didn’t come up with the right information eventually.

    That is partly due to Google and partly to the fact that you get used to the best search queries after so long using it.

  • http://www.goodies4free.net Wii

    I must say if I thought I could get better results for my site from yahoo or msn I would target these search engines instead of google. However with google having such a large share of the market I think you have to put the effort in to get ranked highly in the serps and hopefully start generating the traffic you want

  • http://www.paystolivegreen.com Patrick

    I agree with some of the others. Google doesn’t necessarily have the best results, but it is a buzz word at this point. Whenever you want to find something on the internet, you don’t search for it, you Google it. It will be hard for people to switch at this point.

    Patrick’s last blog post..Great Deal on Eco Friendly Wood Products

  • http://quilmesverano.tv Quilmes Verano

    I’d say better results and faster loading pages. When one makes over 50 queries a day, they don’t care if the table background image loads or not. Stuff like that really slows down the search process and distracts the user from what he was searching in the first place.

  • http://www.greatpriceshere.com Nicole Price

    If I were to be surveyed, I too would say that nothing would make me change from Google. I am quite satisfied with their search.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Good Deals on Hair Products

  • http://www.thewhitehatter.com John

    personally, yes, but google will still be there as an alternative, no search can perfect that way the user wanted.

    John’s last blog post..Busby SEO Test the hard way

  • http://www.dan-london.com Dan London

    Google still gives me the most relevant results and i’ve tried a number of different SEs.

    Dan London’s last blog post..Don’t Judge a Person by Their Twitter Profile

  • http://www.saadkamal.com Saad Kamal

    Yahoo’s result is sometimes better than Google. But i still like Google because of its speed.

    Saad Kamal’s last blog post..Protect Your Site from Spammers – Matt Cutts

  • http://theworkfromhomesecret.com/blog Kenney and Kim

    Google and Yahoo both provide great search. I think the normal searcher can “learn” to search better. I search Google for searches related to business, but Yahoo for most everything else, and my wife loves Yahoo. I saw that Google has over 70% of search, How is that possible when Yahoo has the #1 Alexa ranking? I mean they just had a new commercial about them getting more traffic than Google…or something like that.

  • Jordan McCollum

    I’m not one to dispute the venerable Alexa data (pfft), but Yahoo is also a portal. Not all traffic on Yahoo.com converts into search queries; people don’t go to Google.com with any other intent but to search.

  • Phenomenal

    LJ Jones: Better results is all relative.

    I agree. Depending on my query I use different engines, for example for work I use http://www.searchpetroleum.net because it is the business I’m in and it gives me much more relevant results for my needs than Google.

  • http://www.stepbystepbusinessguides.com Cody Foss

    A better experience, which includes search results, would convince me to change. I flirted with Yahoo about six months ago, but couldn’t make the change. Mostly because the results weren’t as relevant. There were things I liked about it though, like the suggested similar searches.

  • http://www.rnbhaven.com R&B Love Songs

    Yea Kenney, Alexa rankings really don’t mean much of anything. They’re like points in who’s line is it anyway.

  • http://www.netage.co.za Goran Web Design

    I think it’s gotten to the point where it’d be near impossible for another search engine to steal google’s regular users. The brand has become so powerful and recognised that it changes people’s perceptions, as you pointed out with, “results with the Google brand are perceived as more relevant than identical results with other search engines’ logos,” it’s similar to tests that were done a while ago in which children were given vegetables to eat, some of the veggies were handed over as they were packaged straight outta the supermarket, while others were delivered in McDonalds packaging…. The kids, of course, said the McD veggies tasted better, despite the fact that they were all the same thing

  • http://www.seoresults.co.za/pages/seo-tools/ Jacques Seoman

    The world of the web can be likened to the world of superbikes. The model that has the current best performance is the model that has the best sales. When a new upstart appears the buyers migrate to whatever is the best. I do foresee that if a browser comes along that can actually compete with Google and outperforms it with better / more relevant results it will gain a core following quite quickly.

  • http://www.jordankasteler.com/utah-seo-pro-blog/ Utah SEO Pro

    I don’t think so. People are habitual. BUT a search engine collecting too much information and abusing it would definitely be cause.

    Utah SEO Pro’s last blog post..An Interview with Utah SEO Pro (Jordan Kasteler) by Martin Bowling

  • http://www.dataflurry.com DF Marketing SEO

    People say that, but people are so happy with Google – they will never try different results.

    Like Utah said, people are habitual

  • http://www.divorceattorneysofnj.com/ Jim in New Jersey

    A better search engine should make everyone switch. No one uses Altavista anymore….
    and some of the spammy sites found in Googles index are powered by google ads, so there is a conflict of interest going on

  • http://www.fairytalebaby.com Jason Kuiper

    As of right now, google is my search of choice. However, I am willing to try anything once!

  • http://smarttoughdivorcelawyers.com/ Marc in Chicago

    Even if we switch engines the big G has managed to implant itself into many other aspects of our online life with email, video, image sharing, blogging, browsing and a host of other things. And this should illustrate how they know the search market can be lost easily, lol.