Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Do As The Average User Does.

So, Matt Cutts who works at Google picks up a story about rival search engine Ask and has a little fun at their expense. The story's picked up by Robert Scoble and continues to spread. Nothing wrong with that, but I think it's revealing that the whole event was predicated upon a very geek-oriented mode of searching which failed to reveal the site in question.

That may be the smartest way to instruct a search engine, but it's not the way the vast majority (by which I mean over 99%) of people do their searches - they don't use qualifying operators, heck they generally don't know about using quotation marks. As we all know, among the most searched for words on Google is Yahoo and among the most searched for words on Yahoo is Google.

In all areas, geeky or not, the only valid tests of yours or your competitors' products are those that replicate how regular, time-poor, technophobic citizens interact with them. That's the real lesson here. That and the revelation that my Geek Marketing 101 clearly isn't being read widely enough.


Anonymous CJ said...

I am the tech support resource for a very wide range of family and friends (and their friends, too!), and I can tell you why Yahoo is the biggest search word at Google, and vice-versa: because nobody understands the difference between the search bar and the URL bar.

I do not touch a person's computer when I am troubleshooting something or helping them out. They do the work, they type the keys, they control the mouse.

Almost invariably, if you tell someone to go to "", they perform the following steps:
1. Open web browser
2. (browser automatically loads Google or Yahoo, since one or the other is the home page)
3. the user types "" into the search bar and hits enter

You can imagine how the process continues from there.

We assume a level of understanding with the average user that just isn't there. Setting the Home Page, understanding the difference between the Search Bar and the URL bar, etc... that just isn't there, even with my college-level friends...

9:32 AM, March 20, 2007  
Blogger john dodds said...

Absolutely right CJ, but that URL/search bar confusion is a fantastic insight that I've not seen cited before. I'm sure lots of people do search for yahoo by typing yahoo in the search bar, but you've raised the possibility that this might not even be the majority cause of those oft-quoted statistics.

They're used as evidence of people's techno-ignorance but maybe the exact nature of that ignorance isn't appreciated. I wonder if any usability gurus have studied this?

4:06 PM, March 20, 2007  

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