Googlers’ Backup Plan – Ask.com?
When Google users can’t find what they’re looking for on their favorite search engine, where do they go as a fallback plan? According to a new study by online ad network Chitika, they overwhelmingly shift to Yahoo! and Ask.com.
Chitika broke down the data of 39,233 users who searched for the same thing on multiple search engines to determine where they go when the first search results are unsatisfactory. Of second-search users coming from Google, 49.5% ran their second search on Yahoo!, 30.29% on Ask, 16.4% on Microsoft’s Bing, and just 3.8% on AOL.
The surprising numbers in all of this are the high rate of Ask.com usage and the low rate of Bing. Based on overall search market shares, Chitika researchers expected Ask to be only 8.35% and Bing to be over 35%.
“It seems like Googlers think very highly of Ask and Yahoo!,” said Daniel Ruby, Chitika’s Research Director for Online Insights. “It kind of goes to show that, when you’re really struggling to find something, you’ll skip past what’s popular and search with something that’s different and unique.”
Chitika looked at individual users who searched for the same keyword (exact matched) on more than one search engine, and then created a time-based matrix of first- and second-searches. Data is a sample of traffic from 4/14-4/20, 2010.
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None of them hit a domain name directly ?
@Brandt, all 39,000 needed to run a second search… that’s how we pared down to that particular sample. The 39,233 data points were all people who searched for the same query on two search engines.
@Daniel: Ok – so this study tells us what search engines people who use Google and then go to a different search engine go to – for people who run searches in different search engines, and who start with Google, it gives us their preferences. However, without knowing
a) what percentage of Google searchers run a second search
b) what percentage of these try a different search engine as oppossed to a different phrase in the same search engine
– we have no way of knowing how important this behaviour is and therefore what implications this has, if any, for us. If your sample represents 20% of Google users, for example, then this is important and suggests a potential competitive threat to Google. On the other hand, if your sample represents less than half of one percent, it’s not much more than a vaguely interesting item of trivia.
Very cool. I’m suddenly glad so much of my stuff ranks well in Ask.com. Even better is that ask.com appears in normal search engine queries on google and yahoo, too, so it’s like ranking there does double duty.
I’m quite surprised by this. Yahoo, I understand, but ask.com? The data is very interesting. Thanks, Chitika!
I am actually much more surprised by the fact that people go through the trouble of bringing up an entirely different search engine instead of tweaking the search query.
I am scratching my head trying to come up with an example of a query that would make me think:”Well, Google does not have it. Maybe Bing does. Let’s go there.”
If my query on Google does not bring results (really? I can’t remember when was the last time that happened either) or, more realistically, I’m not satisfied with the results, my first thought is:” If Google does not have it, it must not exist OR there is something wrong with my query. Let’s broaden the search and see if I can catch a better term for this thing or something else that can help make a better query.”
Yeah, that is kind of surprising. 🙂 Most times, I too tweak my search if I can’t find what I’m looking for. Usually Google has what I’m looking for. There are those other times (few) that I just can’t find what I need no matter how broad (or fine-tuned) my search is. And, sometimes when researching I just bring up another search engine just because. Never has it been ask.com, though – at least as far back as I’m able to remember.
Either way, it’s interesting to see Chitika’s data on the subject. 🙂
Your Research is wrong lol. Did you ever bother to look at Ask.com PPC budget? they run millions of $$$ worth ads on google adwords and pull in all that traffic. However, ask traffic is rubbish and doesn’t convert at all. The quality of the traffic is extremely poor. Now u know why googlers go to ask.com. Its not that they find what they are looking for, its a PPC trap.
There have been times that after tweaking my searches that Google still doesn’t have the answer parsed out in such a way that it is easily found. It’s a taken that perhaps my searching ability may be at fault.
Sometimes, however, if I head to a more specific place to the type of search I’m running, I may end up finding better results. For instance, if I’m looking for a tech-related answer, and Google’s answer isn’t what I’m looking for, I may head to a site like LifeHacker or MakeUseOf to run a site-wide search.
I also tend to drop to an answer community to refine my searches because often time other people have asked the same question. Even though these answers still come up in Google searches, narrowing it down to just the answer site can prove useful. Although Yahoo is an annoying search engine, I do like to use Yahoo Answers.
I’m actually one of those that does swap to a new search engine if the first one gives me a lousy result. I don’t like playing around with phrases, and seeing as how I have the search engines in favorites it’s easy swapping from one to another.
I always find what I want on google so I never really use any other search engines
great very informative,
It is probably more about similarity of ranking and people searching for their own ranking keywords. That is the only sensible reason someone would make an identical search on multiple search engines.
And the results would indicate that those sites (or sites with Chitika ads) rank more similarly in Google and Yahoo than Bing.
For our sites, such a study means nothing and our log files mean everything.
Whats ASK J/K 🙂 … No Seriously I haven’t searched on ASK since, well never. I use Google for everything. If I cannot find what I want I use a variation of whatever keyword that I was looking for and if I get real desperate I will use Yahoo!
David and Solar energy
I don’t remember ever not finding what I wanted on Google, although I’m a little upset with Google – after being on the first page for one of my niches (sea glass) OdysseySeaGlass, between #2 and #8 for 18 months, Google suddenly dropped my site. Gone. Why? It’s a mystery since I didn’t change anything. Ridiculous.
Google have everything.
I have been using Ask.com for many years and it is as good as the giant Google. A very good search engine for more traffic to your website. Thanks for the post.
Ani @ IM Business
I actually don’t follow @Brandt’s criticism of the research – the “2nd-Search” approach is very interesting and respect to Chitika for using their data to bring this to our attention!
Maybe some follow-up research could give a bit more insight in to some of the questions raised by other commenters?
Happy New Year to All!
i think people will choose yahoo or bing not ask.com
this survey suprise me
Interesting posting, I do believe that a sample of 40000 users compared to the huge amount of browsing and searching happening on a daily basis is just a small sample, and not even the most representative. Still, taking into account that we look into a user base that only comprises chitika network, it becomes more relevant, especially if we want clicks coming from chitika 🙂
Its a great Site i real y appreciate this
lol try searching russian personals on google all you get is pay sites for dating thats a joke.
hmm!!… I never used ask.com, but seems, i should try.. :), well, I m not fan of google, and i got from lots of article, in these days, lots of peoples getting annoy from Google… 😛
i think google still number one 😀
for me, i do visit yahoo if google fails, although very rare, but never ask. i really can’t believe ask’s ranking.
Web Designing | GM Infotech
Yahoo is second best choice in many countries.
If you know how to properly execute Google searches, you will never need to go anywhere else.
google also lags times to times so i swift to yahoo.also google is showing paying sites first in their reluslts.
I always knew yahoo is good search engine but just surprised by Ask.com
Google has many option to get search, you will get many good information in news or google scholar, so why do I must see other? Anyway for latest days, Bing and Yahoo will compete, but no for Ask.
bing is also good search engine, but i am not sure how many uses it?
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About Chitika Insights
Chitika Insights was the research arm of online advertising network Chitika. Insights used Chitika's unique data to monitor and report on Internet trends - search engines, clickthrough rates, the mobile war, and more.
Additionally, the Chitika Insights team monitored the day's tech news closely, and provided an in-depth, data-driven commentary on the latest breaking news. Our studies and data have been featured prominently in major publications, such as The New York Times, Forbes, Barrons and about 3000+ respected publications.
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There are big problems with this study. It doesn’t say what percentage of searchers went to a second search engine. It also doesn’t compare what percentage of people tried Google again for a different phrase, or repeated the search in Google with different options. It doesn’t tell us exactly how many of the 39,000 needed to do a second search at all.
For all we know, only a dozen or so of the 39,000 needed to run a second search. If that were the case, these results would be meaningless.
Without this information, it’s impossible to evaluate the significance of this finding.