What does Google recommend when you want to compare insurance offerings? A study investigating source distribution in Google’s top search results

Lewandowski, D. und Sünkler, S. (2019) “What does Google recommend when you want to compare insurance offerings? A study investigating source distribution in Google’s top search results”, Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 71 No. 3, pp. 310-324

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Abstract

Purpose – We describe a new method to improve the analysis of search engine results by considering the provider level as well as the domain level. This approach is tested by conducting a study using queries on the topic of insurance comparisons.

Design/methodology/approach – We conducted an empirical study that analyses the results of search queries aimed at comparing insurance companies. We used a self-developed software system that automatically queries commercial search engines and automatically extracts the content of the returned result pages for further data analysis. The data analysis was carried out using the KNIME Analytics Platform.

Findings – Google’s top search results are served by only a few providers that frequently appear in these results. We show that some providers operate several domains on the same topic and that these domains appear for the same queries in the result lists.

Research limitations/implications – We demonstrate the feasibility of this approach and draw conclusions for further investigations from the empirical study. However, our study is a limited use case based on a limited number of search queries.

Originality/value – The proposed method allows large-scale analysis of the composition of the top results from commercial search engines. It allows using valid empirical data to determine what users actually see on the search engine result pages.

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