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Interesting Study Of Yahoo and Google

By - November 28, 2007

From our French researcher, a student-based study of Yahoo and Google, with conclusions that I both agree with (Wikipedia is starting to dominate results) and don’t (general search engines have had their day):

The detailed examination of links returned is equally instructive. The first link offered by Google and Yahoo is identical in 27% of cases. In a previous study (using a slightly different protocol), conducted in December 2005, the proportion was 24%. The order of magnitude is thus similar.

The most surprising result came from the use of Wikipedia. This use was marginal in December 2005 (see study). At the time, for all 10 results on the first page, 2% of the links proposed by Google and 4% of those proposed by Yahoo came from Wikipedia. On the first link alone, Google offered no Wikipedia results (at least not in our sample) and Yahoo offered 7%.

The strategies have changed completely. Today 27% of Google’s results on the first link alone come from Wikipedia, as do 31 % of Yahoo’s.

How can this sudden interest in Wikipedia by both engines be explained? It is undoubtedly connected with the increasing difficultly engines have in calculating satisfactory ranking.

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6 thoughts on “Interesting Study Of Yahoo and Google

  1. Steve Flinn says:

    How is it explained? Obviously it’s simply that wikipedia is indeed increasingly the destination of choice for a good portion of non-commerce related searches, and the algorithms are reflecting that rather than being deficient. I very often type in the search term plus “wikipedia” when searching, as I am very likely going to get a higher quality initial point of information versus alternative pages. Flight to quality is therefore the short answer.

  2. nmw says:

    Interesting — and apparently well done, too.

    Is there a difference between searching using firefox’s search bar and searching directly on the site?

  3. Mark says:

    Or the fact since the last sample Wikipedia has added nofollow to almost all external links?

  4. Mike Mothner says:

    I’ve noticed this trend as well on both Yahoo and Google and it is now becoming an expectation that when a general topic-related non-commercial related search is done, Wikipedia should come up as the first or second link in the natural listings. In fact, it is now becoming a rarity if it doesn’t come up as one of the top sites listed in a search.

  5. Xin says:

    Another explanation is that wikipedia’s popularity has attracted more hyperlinks and traffic over last couple years. If you rank a site by its PageRank and traffic, it’s not surprising wikipedia pages are among top returned results.

  6. Frank says:

    Nice Article! However I expected Wikipedia to occur more often on the SERPs at Google or Yahoo. Wikipedia receives a lot of traffic due to its quality and popularity in Germany. When searching for definitions or precise information, I always use Wikipedia first and the Google. I wrote an article in my Blog about this.

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