NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
With Wall Street agog for the Google IPO, a new study has found that the technology thought to separate the search engine from its competitors isn't that much different from its rivals'.
In a survey of 2,000 adult Web users, competitors Yahoo!, Ask Jeeves, MSN and Lycos delivered correct or useful results almost as often as Google, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing a study conducted by San Mateo, Calif.-based Vividence Corp.
For example, when asked to find the leading cause of death for 25-34 year olds, Google users found the correct answer 55 percent of the time, compared with 52-54 percent of the time for its competitors, the newspaper reported.
"The search engines all return roughly the same results," Peter Watkins, Vividence's chief executive, told the Journal.
Despite the similar search results, users still preferred Google for its slimmed-down appearance. One participant that prefers Google said she would use Yahoo! more if its design were less cluttered, according to the paper.
The simple task of changing appearance could allow Google's competitors to close in on its share of the search market.
However, the survey's participants said they were more likely to click on an ad appearing on a competitor's site rather than Google, according to the Journal.
Google did not comment for the Journal's story, citing a quiet period before it goes public. CNN/Money has a search agreement with Yahoo!.