Last week, findings of a Penn State University Study were published with some pretty interesting results. Thirty-two participants of the study did searches relating to a variety of terms and were asked to choose a search engine of preference. Regardless of the presentation of the results, Google and Yahoo were clearly the search engines that the participants chose to use.
Despite the results pages being identical in content and presentation, participants indicated that Yahoo! and Google outperformed MSN Live Search and the in-house search engine.
A Search Engine Watch Forums thread asks why this is. The thread starter, NewKidOnTheBlock, feels that the sample size of 32 participants is not statistically significant. This is very likely to be the case.
However, considering that Google and Yahoo are truly the recognized brands, I am not surprised at the results. If we had a larger sample size in the study, would the results be the same? I would be inclined to think so.
Barry's summarized the findings on Search Engine Land:
[Participants] were then asked to rate each result on a three-point scale consisting of very relevant, somewhat relevant, and not relevant.
After the study was complete, on average about 36 percent of all results were judged relevant to the query. Yahoo scored 15 percent above the average while Google scored just 0.7 percent above the average.
He shows his shock at the anomaly that Yahoo ultimately scored higher than Google. But perhaps that is simply because of the small sample size who may have already had preferred Yahoo despite Google's stronghold on all search traffic. Still, I think that Google and Yahoo would remain clearly victorious if additional participants were invited to partake in the study.
Forum discussion continues at Search Engine Watch Forums.
This entry was written on July 2nd and was scheduled to be published on Wednesday, July 4th.