Thursday, January 13, 2005

Yahoo! and MSN Gaining on Google?

The search engine arena is of intense interest to us here at TMC, both as users of online search and as marketers of our own products and brands. So I was interested to see this news release today:

Yahoo! Search and MSN Search Close the Gap with Google, Says Keynote

This story comes from Keynote Systems, a research company working in the field of customer experience and attitudes. The study looks at the comparative user experience and satisfaction of the top search engines. They place Google in the top place in terms of brand impact, future usage, customer satisfaction and other metrics:

#1 -- Google
#2 -- Yahoo!
#3 -- MSN
#4 -- Ask Jeeves
#5 -- Lycos

However, the study does find that Yahoo! and MSN are making gains. Primary factors cited are:

Expanded local search by Yahoo! and a new search results page.

Excerpt: "The quality of local search results is a major frustration to many search engine users. Across all search sites, almost one in four (22%) users complain that the local results are not what they are looking for or are not ranked appropriately. Yahoo! showed significant improvement in the ranking of the quality of its local search results, tying Google in leading the industry in this key category."

Better separation of Web search results from sponsored results by MSN.

Excerpt: "MSN, which remains in third place overall, began separating sponsored results from its Web search results in July 2004 and, as a consequence, also showed a significant improvement in overall user experience. The company is expected to release a new version of the MSN search site in early 2005, and that site will be evaluated in the next Keynote study in June 2005."

The study also found that Ask Jeeves improved its customer experience through better local search.

Good-quality local search is evidently important for many users. The news release comments on this:

"Across all search sites, almost one in four (22%) users complain that the local results are not what they are looking for or are not ranked appropriately. Yahoo! showed significant improvement in the ranking of the quality of its local search results, tying Google in leading the industry in this key category."

AB -- 1/13/05

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