DuckDuckGo Questions Quality, Accuracy Of Search Engine Traffic Numbers

Gabriel Weinberg, founder of new search engine DuckDuckGo, noted in his blog the hundreds of thousands of bogus searches being done at his engine and wonders if these numbers are being counted by other search engines as part of the traffic totals.

It’s good to see an engine examining the quality of their traffic, seems few do. Maybe they’re too busy filtering the results to explore the searches themselves.

A few years ago I asked the CEO of 7Search if he could get me more of his well converting traffic for the financial services area. His response, “Sure, if you don’t mind the quality being diluted,” made me smile and realize that quality is more important than quanity.

In this era of racing for dominance, Google and Bing sweat the numbers, fight for market share and always push for search numbers.

I have not seen a post, on any of the dozens of blogs Google has, about bot traffic searches for site exploits and the impact it has not on security but their traffic numbers.

Gabriel Weinberg avatarWeinberg wonders:

“…if other search engines include this errant traffic in their query counts. We work hard to keep them completely out because they would overwhelm our real direct queries #s and therefore distort our perception of progress. We also separate out API requests for the same reason, which now also makes me wonder whether everyone else is doing that too.”

Given the interest in search trends and top referrers, this type of spam has been around for quite some time. The more searches for particular terms will get traffic moving to the sites ranking for the terms, as well as see them on lists with links. With Google always looking for paid links, the referrer links still haven’t been given the algorithm touch of death.

So whether it’s done to find sites to exploit or used to gain links, this type of traffic should be filtered from counts. Seems the really small engines have realized they can’t compete on numbers and are doing more to improve the quality of their search traffic.

As Google and Bing battle for the top of the search market, we as marketers need to consider their declining quality. Filtering the results pages may look good, but if there is not a similar filtering of the quality of the traffic that clicks them then we spend time and money on attracting visitors of little or no worth.

Well done, DuckDuckGo.

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