When a search engine founder like me hits out at Google, a global search engine with a reported $13.3 billion in ad revenue as of June 2007, some might call it envy of size and scale.
But business and professional users searching for work-related information on the Web will tell you, as a matter of online marketing fact, that bigger is definitely not better. They have experienced significant frustration in finding needed data through general search engines like Google and Yahoo.
A 2006 study by Outsell reported a 31.9 percent failure rate among business users when researching topics using the major search engines. A separate study from Convera shows that professionals in virtually every industry are having trouble finding important work-related information on the major search engines.
While frustrating for B2B players, this current situation represents a significant opportunity for vertical search engines (VSEs).
Why General Search Engines Fail B2B Professionals
General Internet search engines like Google and Yahoo were not designed to be used as business tools, which is one reason only 4 of 10 professionals surveyed by Convera claim to be "very satisfied" with search results:
- 11 percent always find what they are looking for on the first attempt.
- 43 percent always find what they are looking for after several attempts.
- 21 percent feel their query is always understood.
General search engines rely heavily on the popularity theory that rewards sites with authoritative inbound links. Web site popularity and keyword relevancy (among other variables) help determine rankings. The relevancy model works well for consumer search, as the general population usually finds what it is looking for fairly easy in search results.
For instance, a search for "Toyota Camry" brings up 2,630,000 results on Google and 6,740,000 on Yahoo at the time of this writing. There is no scarcity of information on Google and Yahoo when consumers are looking for product information, and they'll likely find it on the first page.