WebTop Search Rage Study

From The Search Engine Report
Feb. 5, 2001

A study conducted on behalf of search engine WebTop in the middle of 2000 sheds light on how often Internet users in the United States search, what they look for and the satisfaction or frustration they encounter, when searching.

The "Web Rage" survey, which I think is more appropriately called a "Search Rage" study, was conducted from July 27 to August 1, 2000 by Roper Starch Worldwide and commissioned by WebTop. It involved 566 adults, 18 years or older. All lived within the United States and interviewed by telephone.

How Often Do We Search?

On average, Americans search the web for information practically every other day: 13 times per month, the survey found. Nearly 1/3 search at least once or more per day.

How often do you look for information?

Two to three times a week 31%
Weekly 21%
Everyday 20%
Monthly 13%
More than once a day 8%
Less often than monthly 5%
Don't know/Didn't answer 2%

How Long Do We Search?

On average, 1.5 hours per week is spent searching for information, according to the survey. But, 5 percent don't spend any time searching at all!

In an average week, how much time do you spend
searching the Web for accurate information?

More than 2 hours 36.0%
More than 1 hour 24.0%
More than 1/2 hour 14.0%
1/2 hour or less 18.0%
None 5.0%
Don't know 3.0%

What Do We Search For?

Just over half seek news and entertainment information, making them leading topics. However, they are closely followed in popularity by health, business, academic and shopping information.

What kind of information do you look for on the Internet?

News 54%
Entertainment 53%
Health 50%
Business 49%
Academic 47%
Shopping 46%
Financial 44%
Career 37%
Sports 32%
Games 26%
Don't know/None/Didn't Answer 3%

Do We Find It? Yes We Do!

While searching is often a popular topic of complaint, nearly 80 percent say they find what they are looking for often or always. Only 5 percent say they rarely or never locate information.

How often do you find what you are looking for on the Internet?

Often 60%
Always 18%
Sometimes 16%
Rarely 3%
Never 2%

Note: Figures don't add to 100 percent, probably because of rounding.

How Frustrating Is Searching?

About 1/3 reported searching to be "very frustrating," and that rises to nearly 3/4 reporting frustration of some significant degree (3 or above).

On a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is not at all frustrated
and 5 is very frustrated, how frustrating do you find
getting irrelevant information when web searching?

5 - Very frustrated 29%
4 17%
3 31%
2 11%
1 - Not at all frustrated 9%

Note: Figures don't add to 100 percent, perhaps because of rounding or perhaps because "no answer" responses were not listed in the report.

This echoes a separate question, which asked simply "Do you get frustrated when looking for information on the Internet?" In that question, 71 percent said they did get frustrated and 27 percent said they did not get frustrated.

Onset Of Search Rage

How long is too long until searching the web drives people crazy? On average, 12 minutes, the survey found. The survey also shows that if searching could provide results in 3 minutes or less, only 7 percent of people would be frustrated.

How long does it take before you get frustrated
searching the Web for accurate information?

Longer than 15 minutes 49%
11-15 minutes 13%
6-10 minutes 15%
4-5 minutes 12%
2-3 minutes 3%
1 minute 1%
0-30 seconds 3%
Don't know 4%

In a separate question, "Do you feel that Web searching could be more efficient?," the vast majority said yes: 86 percent. Only 9 percent felt things were fine as they are.