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Another obvious fact news sites often neglect: Users don’t like bad search

Thank you, Captain Obvious

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.

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.

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