Some Conflicting Information about Search Usability Study

Pew Internet recently published it’s Search Engine Use 2012 survey findings which I always find quite interesting to stay on top of the search world, as well as a look into what the general public feels. This year’s, however, brings some devil in the details type if information.

Not surprising are some of the basic findings.

  1. Google is still the most popular search engine
  2. People don’t want search engines to track their information
  3. Search is still one of the most popular activities on the Internet
  4. People are generally happy with the results they are getting.

Wait… that’s the one. “Generally happy”. Now lets look at some details, and almost conflicting information from this study. The question I believe comes to the definition of “happy”

The stats that make me question this are the following:

  1. 66% of their respondents state that the results are “fair and unbiased”, but only 28% state that “All or almost all” of the results are accurate and trustworthy. How can you be “happy” with out having a much larger percentage of accurate and trustworthy results
  2. Only 29% state that they “always” find the information that they are looking for
  3. Most say they have noticed “targeted” advertising or search results, but don’t like it

So let me sum it up… People think companies like Google and Bing have waived their magic wand, search has gotten better, but they methods they used they don’t like. Amazing to me.

Trust me, I am not a huge advocate of “tracking” user data, but as I previously mentioned, Big Web is doing it. This isn’t just Google, or Bing. Think about it… everyone is. Netflix to Amazon. iTunes to Google Marketplace. everyone. Simply stated the web, and web analytic platforms (including Google Analytics) allow us to see user behavior. We have found that when asked, people generally lie about their experiences (or at least what they consider the contributing factors to satisfaction). We can see now, without any questions when people leave a site, what their navigation is, and how much they “Like” certain aspects or products. All in seconds.

Who knows. There have been some big changes from 2004 to 2012 as you can see in the study, but what is to come? Maybe the privacy acts will stop companies from looking at how the web is used, and we can just go back to things like Ask.com (which by the way still holds a 3.0% search market share according to comScore)

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