Alan Spurgeon

AOL Publicise Search Data

In July this year, AOL mistakenly released information on 20 million search queries by 658,000 of its users.

aol_logo.gifThis search data was based on searches conducted between March and May 2006. The users did not give their permission to release this data.

* The data sample represents about 1.5% of AOL’s total users in May 2006 and about 0.33% of total searches conducted on AOL in the time period in question.

Some of this data had not been sufficiently protected, so theoretically, individual users can actually be identified and their search history traced. The search history could be potentially harmful.

Although I am sure some people will be aggrieved about this AOL error, from an online marketing point of view, this data gives us a good insight into searchers behaviours – particularly as AOL use Google’s search engine and Google searches make up around 75% of UK searches.


47% of searches do not result in a clicks on the returned results

– This supports the theory that users, rather than clicking through search result pages, refine their search query and search again.

90% of user clicks are on the first page

– Page 1 ranking, or don’t bother!

4% of user clicks are on the second page

42% of clicks are on the 1st placed result.
12% of clicks are on the 2nd placed result.
8% of clicks are on the 3rd placed result.
6% of clicks are on the 4th placed result.
5% of clicks are on the 5th placed result.

More on this story at The Register


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