‘Search Engine Fatigue’ Drives Consumers to Distraction during Car Searches

October 15, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Automotive | Paid Search | Retail & E-Commerce

Some 72% of US online searchers have experienced “search engine fatigue” – that is, unable to find the information they need, they grow impatient or frustrated  – and of those, three of four leave their computer without finding the info, according to a new Kelton Research survey commissioned by Autobytel Inc.

Nearly 40% of Americans describe finding the “right and relevant” car-related information on the big search engines – such as Google and Yahoo – as overwhelming and time-consuming, according to the survey:


Moreover, nearly a quarter of those surveyed said they have actually put off purchasing a car because they found the overall car-buying process too overwhelming or frustrating.

That’s a significant number, considering that  90% of all car buyers use the internet when shopping for a vehicle.

Among other findings of the survey:

  • 65.4% of Americans say they’ve spent two or more hours in a single sitting searching for specific information on search engines.
  • 75.4% have searched for automotive or car-related information online.
  • Consumers search for a wide variety of car-related information, not just new vehicles:


  • 86% of those seeking specific car-related information agreed that big search engines have limitations or drawbacks.
  • Online automotive researchers are also frustrated with third-party sites, such as Autobytel.com, Edmunds.com and KBB.com:
    • Two-thirds (67%) said these third-party sites are “mostly similar,” without offering “substantial differences.”
    • 36% of consumers indicated they have to visit other websites to make sure they get the comparative information they need to make decisions.


  • Asked to choose from a “wish list” of what they would like from an automotive website, the largest block of consumers (37%) said they would like to have access to the internet’s full range of automotive information in order to receive the most relevant information they are seeking.
  • 85% wish there were a one-stop shop for everything related to cars, including purchase, service and accessories.
  • 75% of say they plan to consult numerous professional and consumer reviews in their next car purchase decision.

Autobytel released the study simultaneously with the official launch of MyRide.com, an automotive vertical search engine.

About the study: The “State of Search” study was conducted May 2007 and involved 1001 nationally representative Americans age 18 and older who have internet access. An Autobytel white paper, “The State of Search,” discusses the results of the survey in more detail.

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