Growing Impatience Changing Search Behavior

Growing Impatience Changing Search BehaviorI hope that by now, the importance of search engine optimization is starting to sink in. (Or for those of you out there, who despise the apparent random combination of verbs and adverbs we in the tech community use, getting your web site to appear at the top of search results.) And it seems obvious why that you would want your web site to appear as high in the search results as possible, but just how important is it? Well, Don Don is going to tell you how important...

According to a study conducted by Jupiter Research in April 2008, the number of users who looked at only the first few results or the first page of search engine results increased between 2002 and 2008, while those looking at the second, third or further pages reduced in number.

In the study the researchers found that over 40% of searchers limited themselves to only the first page of search results (the first ten results). Further, the study also found that over 25% of the searchers only looked at the first few results, or what the industry calls the results displayed "above the fold".

The "above the fold" term is a carry over from newspapers, it referred to the news and headlines that were included at the top of the first page and still visible if the newspaper was folded in half. On the Internet, the term applies to the top portion of the page that is displayed when the web page first appears without having to scroll down. In Google, this usually means the first five or maybe six search results.

The study also reports that the number of searchers that try a new query after only viewing the first page of results has increased from 14% in 2002 to 26% in 2008. Which correlates to a continuing decline in the number of searchers looking at the second or third page of results. The searchers looking at the first two pages of search results fell from nearly 25% of all searchers to just over 15%. In addition, the percentage of searchers looking at the first three pages fell from around 10% to almost 5%


As the Internet evolves, search engines continue to grow in importance, but according to Jupiter Research searchers are growing more impatient. This matches up exactly with what I spoke of earlier, the conclusion of Dr. Jakob Nielson, who said: "Now, when people go online they know what they want and how to do it."

This study points to two possible options for web site owners who want to aim for the highest search results possible. The first alternative is to work diligently on your web site to make it appealing to search engines (readable by search engines, focus, frequently updated, and well linked to) or what the industry refers to as improving your organic search result (search engine optimization). The other option is to jump on the search engine marketing bandwagon and pay for keyword advertising on the major search engines. That's it! Without either of these two options, the chances of someone finding your company or your products, is small, and getting smaller every day.

Flickr Creative Commons Contributor: rileyroxx