Branding is very important for search engines, even if the results that are produced are the same, new research shows.

According to a Penn State study, internet users tend to gravitate towards a small number of search engines, despite the fact that there are around 4,000 search engines with similar technologies and capabilities.

Participants were shown Google results pages which had been rebranded to make volunteers believe they were from four different search engines – Google, MSN Live Search, Yahoo! and an in-house search engine.

The voluteers were asked to evaluate the search engines’ performance and although the results pages were identical in content, the participants reported that the results ostensibly from Yahoo! and Google were better than those generated by MSN Live Search and the in-house search engine.

Jim Jansen, assistant professor and lead researcher, said: “Given that there was no difference in the results, all of the search engines should have had the exact same score. Some emotional branding is having an effect here.”
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