By Kevin O'Keefe

Search engine use survey : get on first page of results

If you expect people to find your firm when looking on search engines you better make sure you’re near the top of search results. If you are not showing up on the first page you are in trouble and if you aren’t there by page two, forget it – no one one is looking. These are the findings of a Search Engine Users Attitudes survey from search engine marketing firm iProspect reported at SearchEngineWatch.com. Here are some of the key findings from the survey.


What do people do when they can’t find the information they’re looking for?

  • 26 percent said they’d give up on a search and try again if they didn’t find a match in the first two pages of results.
  • 23 percent said they’d review only the first few matches on the first page.
  • 19 percent who said they’d review only the entire first page of results.
  • 15 percent said they’d give up after reviewing three pages.
  • The remainder said they’d look at more than three pages.

The good thing for those not showing up in time was that 91 percent said they’d try searching differently if the initial search failed to bring up a good match in the first three pages of results. But remember, the vast majority of people are not digging three pages down.

If your target client is older, note that the older a user is the less likely he or she will look at more than the first page of results. Here’s how fast people abandoned their search after the first page of results if they didn’t find what they were looking for:

  • 50 percent of all people 60 and older
  • 44 percent of 45-59 year olds
  • 38 percent of 30-44 year olds
  • 32 percent of 18-29 year olds

The survey also looked at abandonment by profession. More than 52 percent of homemakers looked only at the first page of search results before moving to another search engine or modifying their search. Abandonment rates were also high among educators (40%), IT/MIS professionals (38%) and students (27%).

Women are less likely to go more deeply into search results than men. 44 percent of women said they don’t go past the first page of search results, whereas 37 percent of men responded this way.

Sponsored Ads Versus Free Listings

The audience was split on a preference for free organic results as opposed to paid for sponsorship listings, with an edge for the free results.

The survey found for the query “used car,” when shown a result page from the user’s favorite search engine, organic results were deemed more relevant by 60.5 percent, versus 39.5 percent favoring paid listings, across all search engines.

But there is a big split when it comes to the search engine they are using. Google users liked organic listings better, with 72 percent favoring them, with 28% preferring sponsored listings. MSN users, by contrast, had virtually the opposite results, saying that paid listings were more relevant (71 percent) vs. organic results (29%).

Both men (65%) and women (57%) preferred natural results over paid listings.

The survey found other demographic breakdowns showed a similar preference for organic over paid search listings, but with important differences within each group:

  • Education level: College graduates preferred natural results (65%) to paid listings (35%), while non-college graduates had less pronounced preference for organic listings (56%) to paid listings (44%)
  • Employment status: Full time workers – organic listings (65%) vs. paid listings(36%); Part time workers organic listings (61%) vs. paid listings (39%); Unemployed organic listings (55%) vs. paid listings (45%)
  • Internet usage: Frequent internet users (4 or more times per day) preferred organic listings (65%) to paid listings (35%), while infrequent users (less than four times per day) preferred natural search listings (56%) to paid listings (44%)

You could probably play with these stats all day, if you have nothing else to do, but bottom line is to make certain you are doing all you reasonably can to get on the first page of the search results. In addition there are gains to be made by some prudent spending on sponsored listings.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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