Students View Sites With High Search Ranking As More Credible

Students View Sites With High Search Ranking As More Credible

A recent study offers an interesting look at online value perception.

Naresh Kumar
  • 28 july 2010

In a study done by Northwestern University, it was found that college students, for their research work, prefer the top ranked sites on search engines rather than the sites they are finding through those searches, thus affecting the quality of research. As any Internet professional would tell you, a site ranking on top in search engines has more to do with its search engine optimization (SEO) than its authority on the topic. However, the study shows that students do not seem to care too much about a site’s credibility and used information from it as long as it was ranked on the top.

Ars Technica reports:

The researchers observed 102 college freshmen performing searches on a computer for specific information—usually with Google, but also making use of Yahoo, SparkNotes, MapQuest, Microsoft, Wikipedia, AOL, and Facebook. Most students clicked on the first search result no matter what it was, and more than a quarter of respondents said explicitly that they chose it because it was the first result. “In some cases, the respondent regarded the search engine as the relevant entity for which to evaluate trustworthiness, rather than the Web site that contained the information,” wrote researchers Eszter Hargittai, Lindsay Fullerton, Ericka Menchen-Trevino, and Kristin Yates Thomas.

The study also deduced that students put a lot of value on search engine brands and the credibility of their search rankings:

The paper quoted numerous students professing their particular love for Google, or talking about how Microsoft’s search services are credible because Microsoft is a “more professional” company—basically, search engine brands meant a lot to the students using them, and those students seem to place credibility on the automated search rankings provided by those services.

Northwestern University

Ars Technica: “Students trust high Google search rankings too much”


Why The Apple Watch Is Taking Foot In The Restaurant Industry

Fashion Today

Scientists Have Developed A Furry Wetsuit Material Inspired By Beavers

MIT researchers created the lighter and warmer fabric to maximize speed in the water and to keep swimmers dry

Automotive Today

Toyota FCV Plus Is A Hydrogen Power Station On Wheels

The concept explores the intersection of mobility and resource sharing


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Technology Today

Coca-Cola Has Created A Custom Gaming PC

Maingear developed a computer featuring a fully functional coke bottle water-cooling reservoir

Social Media Today

Chipotle’s New Weekly Show Broadcasts Over Snapchat

The Mexican fast food brand is trying to build goodwill with high school and college students through the social media platform

Related Expert

Kat Egan

Women Shaping the Future

Media & Publishing Today

The NBA Is Filming Live Games With A Special Camera Just For Your Phone

Subscribers to League Pass can now access a feature called Mobile View, which is shot to be optimized for phones and tablets

AI Today

Film Touchingly Portrays The Challenge Of Relying On AI To Combat Loneliness

Director David Wilson takes viewers on a journey of the benefits and ultimate deficiencies of replacing human interaction with robots

Travel Today

Delta Lets Flyers Track Their Luggage From The Airplane To The Airport

The airline's new app allows customers to see exactly where their baggage is throughout their journey


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 26, 2016

Creative Leadership Expert: Experiencing A Seismic Shift From Brand Loyalty To Interface Loyalty

Marc Shillum, founder of Chief Creative Office, explains why product designers must rethink the way they capture consumer attention

PSFK Labs october 25, 2016

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Food Today

Chef Turns Invasive Species Into Delicious Sushi

Creator Bun Lai is adapting strange new ingredients for his menu, which responds to the ecological impact of overabundant creatures in the local environment

Gaming & Play Today

Build Your Own Subway System In This Minimalist Game

Mini Metro lets you design your own fully functional transit network, simulating the flow of urban commuters with pared-down visuals

Work Today

Keyboard Designed To Help Women Use More Assertive Language

The device is a commentary on gender roles in the workplace, and features easy access to "power verbs" that help reinforce a habit of being direct in writing

Arts & Culture Today

Spanish Artist Dreams Up What Animals Would Look Like In Modern Clothing

Yago Partal's portraits depict the fantasized style preferences of creatures worldwide, from an Arctic wolf to a zebra

Fitness & Sport Today

New Data Technologies Make Hyper-Personalized Training A Reality

The Sports Debrief from PSFK Labs looks at how analytics tools are being developed to optimize human performance across all industries

Entertainment Today

IBM Watson Helps Grammy-Winning Producer Craft An EP

The computer system's data technology generated musical scores for Alex Da Kid's first solo project

Travel Yesterday

30-Year-Old Photographs Used As Travel Guides

A new photo series revolves around tracing the origins of images from the past

Children Yesterday

IKEA Is Letting Kids Design Its New Line Of Toys

The products are taken from fanciful drawings that showcase the imagination of those who use it most

No search results found.