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I thought it interesting the way that female search patterns differ significantly from those of their male counterparts.
I use Firebird 0.7 (keep forgetting to upgrade): I read each list item carefully (I read fast) and click "open in new tab" on each one that looks helpful. I run through the SE's first page of listings, click for next SE results page and while it loads (I am on dial-up) start opening tabs and scanning, closing if useless and reading thoroughly if relevant. And so on.
From the non-mention of tabbed browsing I suspect the users were on IE.
What surprised me was the suggestion that anyone might use the sponsored links. It has never occurred to me to look at these. I think I subsconsciously associate them with television advertising. If I notice a programme on commercial TV that I want to watch, I tend to record it and fast-forward the video over the adverts when replaying. Sponsored links are easier to deal with, since they don't even impinge on my consciousness.
What surprised me was the suggestion that anyone might use the sponsored links
I sometimes click on sponsored links, although I am highly aware that such links are going to try to sell me something. So if I'm looking to buy a widget I'll click on them. If I'm looking for a nostalgia site about widgets I used to have, I won't.
Again, I'm a tabbed browser user, so most of the time, Ill open up the first 2 to 4 pages of results in different tabs, read through the lists pretty thoroughly, and open up a pile of extra tabs with what seems to be relevant results. Then give each of these tabs at least a quick scan before settling on the one that seems to be the most apropriate/relevant/reliable.
I agree that the focus group was too small. Habits like mine are out there, but its a small enough minority that it wouldn't even show unless a large sample was used.
I'm a tabbed browser user
Once I switched to tabbed browsing, my entire behavior pattern switched. Add DSL to the mix and I'll open 20-30 sites from a SERP of 100 listings, then start browsing those in reverse order, opening links from each page into new tabs. It's disturbing (so I've been told) for other people to watch because I spend almost no time looking at any given page. Tabbed browser users also, I suspect, wreak havoc with behavior recognition in log files as their behavior is non-linear.
Except I never look at sponsored results because I still can't help but see them as scummy little outfits using money to try and compensate for a lack of genuine merit.
(Sorry guys, I know it's not always the case but I've had this mindset since goto first appeared - not to worry, I never buy anything on the net anyway, so it's probably a good thing I'm not clicking...)
And also I tend to look at URLs as well as titles and descriptions. If the URL looks like this:
then I won't go near clicking on the result even if everything else looked encouraging.
And my average age isn't 42.