A study released by Dogpile, the most popular meta-search engine on the Web, along with researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University, reveals that search engines are indeed individual entities, each with their own way of conducting and delivering both organic and sponsored searches.
Previous studies have shown that searchers don't exhibit loyalty to one search engine over another, and rightly so — at least, based on the results of the study. After studying first-page results from more than 12,500 random search queries performed on the top four engines — Ask Jeeves, Google, MSN and Yahoo — researchers found that an average of only 1.1 percent of those results were consistent among any of the four engines.
Furthermore, the study found that of the organic listings (for the more than 485,000 first-page search results), 84.9 percent of total results were unique to one engine. The results also showed that 95.3 percent of Yahoo and Google first-page sponsored links showed no overlap for a given search query.
The study holds implications for searchers and marketers alike. Searchers should realize (if they don't already) that finding the information they seek might not depend completely on choosing the correct search term, but oftentimes on choosing the right search engine.
Similarly, search marketers who target their advertising on only one or two engines, either because of budget issues or the belief that those are the only two engines that matter when it comes to search traffic, might be missing out on the chance to reach a large segment of their consumer group.
While the study could have marketers who use paid search advertising looking to cast their net over more search engines in the hopes of guaranteeing more traffic to their Web sites, it could equally influence them to re-evaluate not only where they advertise but, just as important, how they advertise. Though it would be nice if every marketer could do paid advertising on all credible search engines, most simply do not have the funds.
Consequently, search engine optimization is probably the best bet for many marketers looking to get the most bang for their advertising dollar because good SEO allows Web sites to attain first-page results on multiple search engines without having to pay multiple search advertising costs. This study supports what search engine optimizers have known for a long time: A good Web site marketing campaign involves SEO — first and foremost — and supplementary paid advertising on compatible search engines.