Study: Good Brand Can Make Search Seem More Relevant

Penn State released a report — Branding matters — even when searching — that claims the brand value of a search engine can make searchers believe results are better or worse than they are.

The study showed that when a searcher was given an identical result set across Google, Yahoo, Windows Live Search and an in house search engine, Google and Yahoo came out as more relevant. Why? Because of the brand of the search engine.

Despite the results pages being identical in content and presentation, participants indicated that Yahoo! and Google outperformed MSN Live Search and the in-house search engine.

The study was done on a sample of 32 participants, with “camping Mexico,” “laser removal,” “manufactured home” and “techno music” as the search queries. They were then asked to rate each result on a three-point scale consisting of very relevant, somewhat relevant, and not relevant.

After the study was complete, on average about 36 percent of all results were judged relevant to the query. Yahoo scored 15 percent above the average while Google scored just 0.7 percent above the average.

I find it very interesting that Yahoo scored higher than Google in this study.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Stats: Popularity | Stats: Relevancy | Stats: Search Behavior


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • Johnny T

    I agree. Although they said the participants were shown identical results and presentations – but when using the search engines and receiving ‘natural’ results pages, the choices would clearly be different in real time (I did a test search w/o personalization turn on). I wonder what the conclusion would be then?

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide