The results of a new survey conducted by Foresee, show that levels of customer satisfaction with some of the world’s biggest search engines have fallen over the past year, suggesting that average web users are not as content with their experience.
This could have an impact for webmasters, because it might mean that targeting major platforms like Google and carrying out effective SEO, is a less important part of digital marketing than it has been in the past.
Twenty two percent of respondents said that their biggest issue with SERPs as they are today is the density of the advertising they contain.
Fifteen percent said that the speed with which search results and landing pages load was a serious hassle, in spite of the fact that broadband speeds are increasing across the UK and elsewhere, in a trend which should help to tackle this problem.
Google was still at the top of the charts when it comes to customer satisfaction, with a rating of 77%. However, this is 6.1% lower than its performance in the 2012 iteration of this report.
Bing suffered almost exactly the same slide in satisfaction, while third place Yahoo saw a less steep depreciation in satisfaction levels of just 2.6%, bringing its total to 76%.
Google is also a big hitter when it comes to customer loyalty, with almost half of all respondents saying that they only ever carry out web searches using the engine provided by this company.
Twenty eight percent of those questioned said that Bing was their first port of call for queries, which shows that Microsoft’s service still has some way to go if it wants to battle Google as an equal.
The survey found that Yahoo and MSN are most guilty of using distracting ads on their services, with a quarter of respondents stating that this was an annoyance.
While customer satisfaction may have slipped, it is necessary to assess why this might be, rather than assuming that search engines have dropped the ball and made it harder for advertisers to succeed.
Perhaps most significant is the increased diversity of the devices which are being used by consumers in 2013, with higher instances of queries being made via smartphones and tablets than ever before.
Search engines and sites have yet to completely master the art of catering to an audience of portable device users, which means that people are more likely to be disappointed with the experience they receive.
In addition, search users now have sky-high expectations about the relevance and accuracy of the results that are presented to them, which may be harder to meet, given all of the additional variables which are thrown into the mix when you consider portable gadgets as an important part of the market.
Respondents revealed that they are still interested in seeing search ads which are related to their needs, but it is the presence of any inappropriate, superfluous or obtrusive marketing material which mars their ability to enjoy a modern search experience.