Google falters in search 'success rate' study

Posted by Mark Raby

There's no denying Google is the leader in online search, but a new study says only two out of three Google searches lead users to what they're looking for.

Online research and analytics firm Experian Hitwise released a report last week on what it defined as successful search results. That is, it looked at how many searches from Google, compared to other options like Bing and Yahoo, actually resulted in users clicking on a link from the results page.

Surprisingly, only 67.6% of searches performed through Google were successful, according to the Experian metric.

Meanwhile, Bing had a success rate of 80.0% and Yahoo was at the top of the charts with 81.4%.

"The share of unsuccessful searches highlights the opportunity for both the search engines and marketers to evaluate the search engine result pages to ensure that searchers are finding relevant information," said Experian Hitwise in a statement.

Of course, the grain of salt to be taken with these results is that some Google searches do not require users to click a link to find the information they want. For example, if users are curious to find out the conversion of 12 feet into meters, they can just type in "12 feet to meters" or some variation thereof, and the conversion rate will be presented at the top of the results page.

The same thing applies for currency conversions, simple mathematical equations, the current time, and many other common searches that seek to find a specific answer rather than a full website.

However, both Bing and Yahoo offer the same in-results information, so in the end that factor could just be a wash, unless Google users are more likely to take advantage of the feature.

Nevertheless, there is certainly something to be said about the large disparity between the success rates, but it's unlikely anything will change soon. After all, Google still powers 66.1% of all online searches. The next closest competitor, Yahoo, only grabs 14.5% of the market.