Monday, October 26, 2009

Global vs local search habits

There's a difference of opinion out on the Internet as to whether George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “If you want to see how a society thinks, look at what it searches for.”

However, even if he didn't say it, its worth crediting it to him anyway.... particularly in the online world where the zeitgeist, hopes & fears and social drivers of society can be quickly gauged by seeing what their people look for in seach engines.

However, when putting some work together for a potential client, we have been discussing if search habits are different across the Internet and for me the answer has to be "Yes", for example...
  • Different countries / regions have different languages. Even translated, these lose a little something along the way http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0335266/
  • Trends, thoughts and influences differ from place to place over time and although there may be global memes, these are no-doubt subtley different at a local level.
  • Different search engines are used across the world (e.g. Naver.com is popular in Korea and Baidu.com is bigger than Google.cn), these have different indexing algorythms and therefore differing search results.

But accepting that there are these differences, the next question should be "are the ways that people use search engines different from place to place?". By this, I mean:

  1. Do users in different counties go to search engines for different reasons at a different points in their consideration/buying cycle?
  2. Do search engine visitors from different markets/locale's trust the results in varying ways?
  3. Do a different numbers of pages of results get looked at depending on the language of the user?
  4. etc.

All food for thought and possibly a much bigger topic than just one blog post.......

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