BBC Reports Users Lose Patience With Poor Search

Jared Spool

April 14th, 2006

Our good friend, Daniel Szuc, pointed us to this interesting article at the BBC: Search users ‘stop at page three’ . It seems that the good folks over at Jupiter Research and iProspect (a search engine marketing firm) have discovered most users only look at the first page of results when searching. None go beyond the third page of results before they either try another query or just leave the site.

We have to say we weren’t surprised to hear this. We’ve known for a long time that search result pages are just a variant of gallery pages and follow all the rules.

What makes search results special is the result items come in different flavors:

  • Match Relevant results: These are what the user is seeking. In our studies, the best sites have match relevant results for every query where the site has content the user seeks.
  • Wacko results: These are results that have nothing to do with what the user is looking for. The best sites do their best to eliminate these results and, when they can’t, make sure they are listed under the match relevant results.
  • No results: No results, while ideal when the target content isn’t actually on the site, are the wrong response when the content is there. In our studies, 88% of sites return no results for simple queries when the content is actually on the site.

No results are the worst offenders. When studying users using on-site Search, we saw, when shopping for clothes, they abandoned their shopping 55% of the time queries returned no results. For shoppers of Books, CDs, and DVDs, they abandoned 100% of the time they encountered a no results screen. In almost all cases, what they were shopping for was on the site, so the sites lost the sales because their search didn’t work effectively.

Don Dodge has some interesting tips on how to use Search more effectively, but I think this puts the burden on the user. Ideally, we either figure out how to improve Search or, better yet, improve the trigger words on the site to eliminate the user’s need to use Search at all.

3 Responses to “BBC Reports Users Lose Patience With Poor Search”

  1. Journerdism Says:

    [...] Jared Spool reports, “BBC Reports Users Lose Patience With Poor Search” Our good friend, Daniel Szuc, pointed us to this interesting article at the BBC: Search users ’stop at page three’ . It seems that the good folks over at Jupiter Research and iProspect (a search engine marketing firm) have discovered most users only look at the first page of results when searching. None go beyond the third page of results before they either try another query or just leave the site. [...]

  2. links for 2006-04-19 at disambiguity Says:

    [...] BBC Reports Users Lose Patience With Poor Search (UIE Brain Sparks) yep, I’m thinking about search again. Got any good ‘making search work well for users’ links I should be looking at? (tags: search searchresults) [...]

  3. links for 2007-09-14 — Michel Vuijlsteke's Weblog Says:

    [...] BBC Reports Users Lose Patience With Poor Search » UIE Brain Sparks Ha. (tags: search research ia) [...]

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