How do you use search?

A recent report of the top 10 search terms teens use, seems to reveal that many teens are more likely to search for Youtube than enter www.youtube.com into their browser. (I wish there was data about how many teens search for a website rather than enter it directly into the browser window, but that is a different issue.)

Generally a search term is something you use when you aren’t sure what or where something is located whether in the library or online. I’m intrigued to see that teens seem to use search terms in a different way. They know what they want, but instead of typing the url, they perform a search for it.

Now I’m going to make alot of assumptions here so you can start ignoring me if you want, but I think the reason they do this is because, well its easier. I know I often will search for a site I want instead of typing it into the browser field simply because I have a google toolbar installed on my browser and it means less key strokes and less mistakes. I don’t want to worry about getting the http://www and .whatever correct, especially if I’m not super familiar with the website.

Another reason I think this is true, is that the second search term is google. How many of your have a toolbar on your browser that automatically searches yahoo, msn, or another search service? Most of these come pre-installed and not everyone knows how to turn them off or change them to the search engine of their preference. Does your library have these on your public computers? What is your default search engine? Do you know how to change it?’  Here is information on how to change the default to google, but you can use it to change it to anything,

Well I decided to test out google, since most teens are likely to use google to find our library rather than type in the url.’  I used “Pierce County Library” as my search terms, and was very happy to see our official homepage as the first result. Google identified these subpages as the most important: Account Log-in, Library Catalog, Locations listing, Current Job Openings, Search Site, OverDrive, Employment, & E-Sources.

Interesting that jobs came up twice in the list of 8, but I think this is reflective of the economy. I do find it strange that programs or events didn’t show up. Just goes to show Google doesn’t think like I do.

I then decided to throw the term teen to my search to see if I got similar results. Sadly our teen homepage was the second result, second to our annual writing contest landing page. This seems like a big barrier to access for my teens, and I’m going to try to find a way to make our teen website more accessible through google.

In the mean time, how does your library measure up?

And in case you were curious here are the top 10 search terms reported by Symantec on Cnet

1. YouTube
2. Google
3. Facebook
4. Sex
5. MySpace
6. Porn
7. Yahoo
8. Michael Jackson
9. Fred
10. eBay

Other terms that made the top 100 included Eminem (49), the Jonas Brothers (47), iTunes (89), Playboy (also at 89), boobs (28), Wikipedia (14), Webkinz (16), games (17), and swine flu (93).

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Jami Schwarzwalder

Currently a teen librarian with the Pierce County Library System in Tacoma, WA.She is passionate about technology, making, and learning. See what I'm up to at https://about.me/jamischwarzwalder

2 thoughts on “How do you use search?”

  1. Interesting. I’ve noticed my husband does this and it drives me batty for some reason. But it also gives me something to think about as I revamp my info skills curriculum for the coming year.

  2. You missed an obvious answer–perhaps they don’t use the URL because they don’t know how to navigate the Internet using URLs.

    I’ve had patrons ask me how to get to Google. I’ve seen patrons use Yahoo! to search for Google. I’ve even seen patrons type “www.lapl.org” in the google search box to get to our library’s homepage.

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