Search rage is best defined as the uncontrollable frustration and anger resulting from being unable to find what is being searched for on the internet.  For businesses such as photo libraries, video libraries and on-line retailers that means lost sales.

The key thing for on-line libraries and retailers to understand is that people can get so annoyed that they may not return to your site, and certainly are likely to return to the sites of your competitors if the experience is significantly better.  The key driver of that frustration is how long it takes to find what is wanted.

Good keywording and simple search mechanisms are the answer to the problem, but it is not always obvious that this is necessary.  It is tempting to think only about existing customers and whether they can find what they’re looking for in any one search session.  The problem is that those who were frustrated with how hard it was to find what they wanted have long since voted with their mice and gone elsewhere, which makes the problem all the harder to find. “None of our customers have complained so we don’t think keywording is an issue”, I was once told by a photo library which is now starting to lose sales to a keyword-conscious competitor.

And how badly do people get frustrated? According to a study by company Webtop, the answer is “very”. Their study in 2000 showed about 1/3 reported difficulty searching to be “very frustrating,” rising to nearly 3/4 reporting frustration of some significant degree (3 or above).

On a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is not at all frustrated and 5 is very frustrated, how frustrating do you find getting irrelevant information when web searching?

5 – Very frustrated 29%
4 17%
3 31%
2 11%
1 – Not at all frustrated 9%

Of even more interest perhaps was the question of how long iwas too long until searching the web drove people crazy? On average, 12 minutes, the survey found. The survey also showed that if searching could provide results in 3 minutes or less, only 7 percent of people would be frustrated.

So how long does it take before you get frustrated searching the Web for accurate information?

Longer than 15 minutes 49%
11-15 minutes 13%
6-10 minutes 15%
4-5 minutes 12%
2-3 minutes 3%
1 minute 1%
0-30 seconds 3%
Don’t know 4%

So next time you wonder if your site is as searchable as it should be, try doing some very specific searches and see how long it takes to find what you need.  Using the table above you’ll be able to get a good idea of how many customers and sales are at stake.