AOL promotes keyword service with stereotypes

Users type, ISP resorts to type...

Users type, ISP resorts to type...

AOL is making another push to promote its AOL Keyword search facility with a survey that blames complicated URLs for losing visitors on the web. The research, carried out by NOP, found 80 per cent of respondents have trouble finding a website at the first time of trying. However, this is not that surprising and neither is the fact that relatively inexperienced web users - those accessing it weekly - took an average of 2.7 attempts to find the site they're after. But the internet giant has also resorted to some unimaginative stereotypes to enforce its point. The AOL press release claims one in five women has to make more than fives attempts before they find the right site. However, the company's press office admitted its statistics also show men tend to just give up before the fifth attempt - suggesting women, rather than being more computer illiterate, may just be more patient than men. The company also pits the north of England against the south. In Yorkshire, 42 per cent of web users take more than five attempts to locate a site, while 61 per cent of tech-savvy Londoners, find the site they are looking for in less than two attempts. However, comparing the regions on a like-for-like basis the difference is less stark. In terms of finding a site first time round, 20 per cent managed it in London and 16 per cent in Yorkshire. It's also worth remembering NOP compiled these statistics by asking participants what they thought their website-locating skills were like. They are not based on an actual tests. AOL's point is that its Keyword search would help its users locate a site more quickly. In fact, it says 76 per cent of those questioned would be interested in using such a system. However, these keywords are editorially controlled by AOL. Of course, there is a way around the problem. Just go to google.com and punch in whatever you're after. It rarely fails.