The success of Google as the dominant search engine can be attributed to various factors, but one key aspect that set it apart from its competitors was its unwavering focus on user experience. Co-founders Sergei Brin and Larry Page believed that links and clicks served as a form of recommendation, indicating the relevancy and value of a webpage. They adopted the concept of "stickiness," which aimed to attract users to a page and keep them engaged for as long as possible, enabling the delivery of targeted advertisements.

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Glasp

Aug 19, 20234 min read

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The success of Google as the dominant search engine can be attributed to various factors, but one key aspect that set it apart from its competitors was its unwavering focus on user experience. Co-founders Sergei Brin and Larry Page believed that links and clicks served as a form of recommendation, indicating the relevancy and value of a webpage. They adopted the concept of "stickiness," which aimed to attract users to a page and keep them engaged for as long as possible, enabling the delivery of targeted advertisements.

Interestingly, Google's homepage initially lacked any advertisements, unlike its competitors. Moreover, when a user entered a query, Google directed them away from its own page and towards relevant search results. This approach was a departure from the traditional model of keeping users on a platform to maximize ad exposure. Instead, Google prioritized the provision of accurate and useful search results, recognizing that satisfied users would inevitably return.

To further solidify its dominance, Google introduced AdWords, a game-changing advertising platform. While the concept was borrowed from Overture, Google implemented a unique twist. They integrated the same emphasis on relevancy of search results into the advertising model. Overture relied on a bidding system where the highest bidder received the most exposure, even if their ads were irrelevant. In contrast, Google incorporated the clickthrough rate as a measure of the ad's relevancy. This meant that an ad with a lower bid but more clicks would rank higher, ensuring that users were presented with ads that were genuinely relevant to their interests.

In addition to Google's innovative approach to advertising, their success can also be attributed to their emphasis on asking the right questions during user research, interviews, and testing. This focus on understanding user needs and preferences has been instrumental in shaping Google's products and services.

When formulating questions, it is crucial to start by defining broader themes. By identifying the key areas of interest, researchers can delve deeper into the specific aspects that matter most to users. Breaking down questions into more manageable parts ensures that they are answerable and encourages participants to provide detailed responses.

To avoid bias and influence, it is important not to ask questions that lead participants towards a particular answer. Instead, ask about specific moments in the past, allowing users to recall their experiences and provide genuine insights. Open-ended questions, which allow for more in-depth responses, should be prioritized over closed-ended questions that only require a simple "yes" or "no" response.

Creating a comfortable and non-judgmental environment is essential for productive interviews. Researchers should "get into character" and adopt a friendly and approachable demeanor. Maintaining the right posture and explaining that there are no right or wrong answers helps to put participants at ease and encourages them to share their honest opinions.

Warm-up questions can be used to establish rapport and ease participants into the interview. These questions should be light-hearted and non-threatening, allowing users to gradually open up. It is crucial not to use the interview as an opportunity to sell a product or influence participants' opinions. Instead, focus on listening and giving users the space to express themselves fully.

During the interview, researchers should control their reactions and avoid showing surprise or disbelief. This ensures that participants feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, even if they differ from expectations. Taking the time to listen actively and paraphrasing what has been heard demonstrates genuine interest and encourages participants to elaborate on their responses.

Answering questions with questions is a useful technique for gaining deeper insights. By asking follow-up questions, researchers can dig deeper into participants' thoughts and understand the reasoning behind their answers. It also helps to uncover any underlying motivations or concerns that may not have been initially apparent.

Lastly, non-verbal clues should not be overlooked during interviews. Paying attention to participants' body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice can provide valuable insights into their feelings and attitudes. These non-verbal cues can help researchers gauge the level of enthusiasm, frustration, or confusion associated with certain topics.

In conclusion, Google's success in winning the search engine war can be attributed to its unwavering focus on user experience. By prioritizing relevancy and value in search results and advertisements, Google created a platform that users found genuinely helpful and engaging. Moreover, their emphasis on asking the right questions during user research and interviews enabled them to continuously improve their products and services.

Three actionable advice for companies aiming to replicate Google's success are:

  • 1. Prioritize user experience: Make sure that your products and services genuinely address user needs and provide value. Focus on creating an intuitive and enjoyable user experience that keeps users coming back.
  • 2. Conduct thorough user research: Invest time and effort in understanding your target audience. Ask the right questions, listen actively, and use the insights gained to inform your decision-making process.
  • 3. Adapt and innovate: Keep an eye on industry trends and constantly strive to improve and innovate. Don't be afraid to borrow ideas from others, but always put your unique spin on them to stand out in the market.

By adopting these strategies and putting users at the heart of their decision-making process, companies can increase their chances of winning the battle for user attention and loyalty, just like Google did.

Resource:

  1. "#TBT: Why Google Won the Search Engine War", https://www.searchenginepeople.com/blog/125-why-google-won.html (Glasp)
  2. "Asking the right questions during user research, interviews and testing", https://uxdesign.cc/asking-the-right-questions-on-user-research-interviews-and-testing-427261742a67 (Glasp)

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