Tag Archives: search engine

Why most don’t go beyond page 1 on Google

Click through rates show that the first organic result receives the most clicks, therefore, where you rank on search engines has a direct impact on how popular your web site is. Why do most of us not go further than page 1 on Google?

Reasons why we don’t scroll online

  • Web search is quicker than searching databases. Most people do not go onto page 2 of Google because carrying out another web search is free and quick.
  • Enjoyment. Searching is an enjoyable task. The majority of people don’t scroll to page 2 of Google because we prefer to carry out new searches, albeit slightly different keywords, because web search is an enjoyable activity.
  • Trust. Organic results have more trust than PPC. Those who rank naturally at number 1 will get more visitors. We don’t scroll because we trust search engines’ rankings.
  • Web search engines are well armed to resolve unusual queries. Most queries return hits and if they are unusual queries “search suggestions” are displayed for the search engine user to consider. We prefer to interact with web search engine features rather than selecting page 2 or 3 of Google.
  • Scrolling takes too much effort. We usually carry out several searches in 1 search session. Only a few search engine users go through pages and pages of results because they have more time available or they are carrying out an analyses of some sort, for example, connectivity queries to count specific hyperlinks.

From information retrieval to web search

Search engines are the most common method of finding information online. Ranking highly on web search engines is important to every organisation because it can increase: visibility; brand awareness; and profits. Search engines attract millions of users every day.

Scientists, for example chemists, used to pay and only use expensive fees to search databases. The main advantage of paying a fee to access information from subscription services is to have the reassurance that the content is well structured and organised. Web search engines, however, have been getting better at precision and recall: Web search engines are good at retrieving sites that accurately match your query. Scientists are now using web search engines more because they are free and quick at obtaining good results.

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Reference

  1. Altingovde, I.S. Blanco, R. Cambazoglu, B.B. Ozcan, R. Sarigil, E. and Ulusoy, O. (2012) ‘Characterizing Web Search Queries that Match Very Few or No Results’. CIKM ’12. [Volume and issue numbers missing] pp. 2000–2004
  2. Glander-Hobel, C. (2001) ‘Searching for hazardous substances on the Internet’. Online Information Review. 25(4) pp. 257-266
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Emotions, search and the Web

Emotions are beginning to play a larger part of user behaviour and analysis. This blog post analyses emotions themselves, as well as, identifying web searchers’ emotions.

Emotional web

Increased social media use has resulted in a lot of emotional text. A web full of emotional text creates an emotional web. This also explains why companies offer a range of analytical services including sentiment analysis, for example.

Kamvar and Harris (2011) also found that almost all participants in their peer reviewed study exhibited self-awareness and self-reflection on their own emotions. An emotional web does not require all users to be emotionally intelligent, per se, persons. Almost everyone on Earth gets emotions there are a few explained exceptions to this, for instance, those with autistic traits.

Emotions have helped us survive … We needed emotions in order to react quickly to dangerous stimuli.
Ilana Simons.

Since we need emotions to survive, a vital component of life itself, everyone gets emotions. Therefore everyone should use and alter emotions within web technologies.

Emotive URLs and Bitly

URL shortening services are growing. Bitly incorporate emotions into the host of their new beta URL shortening service. So luvit.me/abcde, for example, means /abcde link contains a webpage that makes the sharer happy. Directly associated emotions include love and optimism. Technology services are starting to see the potential of viewing the Web as an emotional medium.

Words trigger emotions. Using positive and human friendly words therefore taps into our emotional state, for example, “a warm welcome” and “come this way” are informal phrases guiding an emotionally positive user from one area of a website to another. By doing so the user builds positive emotions towards a website increasing, for instance, website interaction. Web word choice impacts online communication.

Photo of faces expressing emotions

Faces express emotions. Source: Łukasz Strachanowski.

Emotions and web searching

If you take a few moments’ to think about your last web searches you may notice that some searches have been better than others. This could be influenced by search engine precision, recall and your choice of appropriate keywords but felt emotions affect your search. Search engine users therefore are emotionally charged, positively or negatively, before they enter your website. First impressions, therefore, are paramount. Emotional designs and word choice are even more important.

Emotions affect cognition and behaviour and search itself requires cognition, in the form of brain power and keyword formulation, and user behaviour affects web interaction.

Excited
Similar or related searches can excite some people. Excitement can be a strong indication of a good search experience. Energy will play a large part for these session searchers and therefore need to be tamed out within an emotional design to prevent user’s from getting lost within a website.
Sad
A searcher who carefully plans keywords, for example, but retrieves irrelevant results, just like the angry searcher below, may feel sad. Emotions and feelings of disappointment are strong. Blue mooded searchers need cheering up. Bright colours can help.
Tender
Emotive words can come into play here. Search engines also stem words from their index which means emotive terms may randomly appear. Emotive words affect cognition and, thus, affect a web search. Love and touch your users to increase positive interactions.
Scared
Scared emotions can occur whenever the searcher is fearful that they cannot find a recommended website, for instance, which usually occurs before a search has been carried out. Nervous and anxious feelings will be expressed here. Tense and panic can quickly turn into sad or angry users. UX and designs are key.
Happy
The searcher gets what they wanted. The SERP is very relevant and it may be constructed using universal search. The optimistic and positive searcher will have a good look around your newly found website. Make sure it is functional and completely accessible.
Angry
If we carry out a web search and no results are relevant then feelings of anger may be present. The searcher feels disappointed and furious. Convert such searchers into happy users by, for example, creating clean and clear messages within a beautiful looking design. Don’t forget to have a researched information architecture.

Getting web emotions

Web technologies need to take into account emotions alongside emotional designs. Researching colour schemes, words and exciting users through designs begins this process. You do, however, need to remember that web searchers experience emotions before they find your website. This knowledge allows designers to design even better technology.

References

  1. Bitly (2013) Bitly for feelings. [Online] [Accessed on 02nd November 2013]
  2. Kamvar, S.D and Harris, J. (2011) We Feel Fine and Searching the Emotional Web. WSDM ’11.
  3. The Economic Times (no date) Things get sh.rt on web with URL shortening trend. [Online] [Accessed on 02nd November 2013]

Local and mobile

Location-based searching adapts a search to your geographic location. This post analyses Yahoo Mobile Search and China’s booming mobile industry.

Local intent and concept

A large amount of searches have local intent even if they do not have locations included within a search query. “Chinese cuisine [city]”, for instance, suggests that the searcher wants Chinese food places in [city]. “Weather”, conversely, does not contain a city but it is unlikely a searcher wants weather information for North Korea. Search engines must calculate if all queries have local intent.

Yahoo! Search for mobile delivers geo-specific content by the following 3 steps:

  • Analyses the concept and the intent of a query;
  • Search execution plan is produced which optimises the concept and intent of a query. This query is mixed with various categories, including, for example, web, news, photos and user-generated content, such as, Yahoo Answers;
  • Search results are brought together from various categories and reorganised in a manner appropriate to a query. This reorganisation means a blended SERP is constructed.
Mobiles offer location-specific locations.

Photo of a mobile pinpointing a specific location. From Nahid Giga.

Why are mobile phones popular in China?

The Chinese government has supported the development of mobile phones by implementing the State Council Policy of 1999 entitled State Affairs Development File No. [1999]-5 (MII, 2005). Government legislation and the high number of people and manufacturers means that mobile phones are popular in China — the largest country of people with mobile phones.

Of China’s population of 1,349,585,838 persons there are 1,150,000,000 active subscription service users. This means 85.21% of the population have mobile phones. In terms of mobile devices China is the world’s biggest market.

Mobiles and location

Since mobile devices are packed with various technologies, for example GPS and WiFi, your location is more precise compared to, say, desktop computers. Exact locations are good for local searchers. Search engines, however, need to calculate if a searcher has or has not got local intent within every query. This area of technology is still developing. But marketers need to know about local searches in order to create local SEO campaigns, for instance.

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References

  1. Chang, C. Wang, F. and Fu, H. (2009) A strategic analysis of the mobile telephone industry in Mainland China. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management. 20(4) pp. 489–499
  2. Lu, Y. Peng, F. Wei, X. and Dumoulin, B. (2010) Personalize web search result with user’s location. SIGIR ’10 July 19–23. pp. 763 — 764
  3. Reuters. (2013) China’s mobile subscribers up 1.2 pct at 1.15 bln in March. [Online] [Accessed on 03rd October 2013]
  4. Yi, J. Maghoul, F. and Pedersen, J. (2008) Deciphering mobile search patterns: A study of Yahoo! Mobile search queries. World Wide Web Conference Committee (IW3C2). pp. 257–266

Pay Per Click: Hyperlinks and success

Directing PPC hyperlinks

Hyperlinks are key to any pay per click (PPC) campaign. Where will the potential customer be redirected to once they click a sponsored link? There are four main destinations to chose:

Homepage
This is convenient because PPC campaigns would not require numerous webpages for individual keywords.
Search transfer
Clicks will be redirected to a specific, usually a product, search that is directly related to a PPC campaign.
Category browse
A user is directed to a category that matches the PPC ad.
Other
Standalone webpages, for example, forms or generic pages promoting general messages, such as, “check this out” or “great deal”.

Adapted from Becker et al (2009) who also found that category browse and search transfer had a higher conversion rate compared to homepage or other pay per click redirects.

Location of PPC ads on Google's results page / SERP.

Photo showing the location of PPC ads on Google. Source.

4 things influencing PPC success

WordStream suggest the following elements must be included to make a PPC campaign successful:

  • Keyword research;
  • Organisation;
  • Keyword grouping;
  • And ad groups (both creation and management).

Successful PPC campaigns need to be well researched and documented.

Trust and PPC

PPC, compared to organic, search has some limitations. Trust, for example, may be lower in PPC whereas highly ranked organic websites are more likely to have more trust attached to them. PPC click-through rates vary. Big brands, for instance, receive higher click-through rates (3% upwards) compared to non brands (1% to 7%). This suggests that PPC and trust are linked.

PPC tips

Carry out keyword research. What product / service do you want to increase? Choose keywords directly related to your products or services. Set a realistic budget and monitor it. Get a responsive website to ensure mobile users can benefit from any PPC campaign. Have brilliant content and webpages. Think about writing call to actions on page content too. Hire a digital marketing agency if you want the most optimum results; they will manage your account regularly.

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References

  1. Becker, H. Broder, A. Gabrilovich, E. Josifovski, V. and Pang, B. (2009) What happens after an ad click? Quantifying the impact of landing pages in web advertising. CIKM. [no volume or issue number]. pp. 57 — 66.
  2. Kim, L. (no date) Pay-Per-Click Campaign Success Through Keyword Management. [Online] [Accessed on 02nd September 2013]
  3. Raehsler, L. (2012) What Is a Good Click-Through Rate for PPC? [Online] [Accessed on 02nd September 2013]

How do we carry out a web search?

Keywords are fundamental to web search engines because keyword searching is required for all search engines.

Four ways in which we browse*

Electronic search
We search electronic resources, such as, catalogs, magazines or websites, for instance, in order to find information that meets our information need.
Physical search
In order to find something out we look up physical resources, for example, books or leaflets.
Serendipity browsing
Traditionally speaking serendipity browsing refers to finding information within a library. The idea, which can be applied to the whole web today, is that if you know one item is good then you can find similar items based on this original item. So “related searches” or “similar items” are modern web search engine examples of serendipity browsing.
Information task switch
This involves a searcher switching between electronic and physical resources to find information. For example, reading a book and using a web search engine to find out more about a topic you have just read.

*Adapted from (Spink 2003:344) who also found that we are likely to carry out many searches within one search. Carrying out an actual web search is not just a simple and quick task because it is comprised of several quick-fire queries.

Popular web search engines

Popular web search engines. Source.

Why do we browse and ask for more information?

There are several ‘triggers‘ which make us want to find out more information. The first is breaking a search down into tasks, for example, find out if it is BBQ weather at the weekend (task one) then asking a navigational query for “Tesco” to buy things for a BBQ (task two). Secondly, whenever we search and we read something interesting this triggers another search task. Thirdly, if our search results have something unexplained within them then we need to change our search to find this information out. Fourthly, and finally, if there is something missing from our overall search plan then this triggers a need to fill in this missing gap.

Digital marketing and search

Search engines allow your website to be found but you have a very short window in which to grab attention. Designing smart, clear and usable technologies will help make this browser find information or, even better, convert.

Do you ask for numerous search queries within one search? Tweet Gerald.

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References

  • Day, V.L. and Jeffries, R. (1993) Orienteering in an Information Landscape: How Information Seekers Get From Here to There. Interchi ’93. [issue, volume and page numbers missing]
  • Spink, A. (2003) Multitasking information behavior and information task switching: an exploratory study. Journal of Documentation. 69(1) pp. 336 — 351.

Why do search engines give different results?

Different results for Bing and Google

Numerous factors explain why Bing gives different results than Google. Two of the main reasons are covered on this post.

Search engine specific bots and indexes
Bing and Google, two popular, crawler-based search engines have unique bots which ‘crawl’ and store keywords within their own index. Each index is therefore a search engine’s representation of how they see the web. So search engines “see” the web differently.
Unique algorithms place different weight on different things. Most search engines are different because they have unique bots and indexes which rank websites in their own way.
Bing powers Yahoo but their results are different. This is because each search engine uses different algorithms, ranking queries uniquely, so a search for “belfast” on Yahoo will be different from “belfast” using Bing.
Personalisation
Personalisation adapts a system to a specific computer. Calculations predict likes and dislikes to contextualise search results. So a political searcher who searches for “brown” are more likely to get results on Gordon Brown whereas a landscape artist who searches for “brown” are more likely to get information on art products and paint colours.
Although you might be using a global search engine, for example Google, your results are tailored to your geographic location. IP addresses play the largest role in doing this. Each IP address is similar to a house address. Search engines can find out where these IP addresses are located and personalise results based on this location. Results are therefore different for people who are in different countries.

Since personalised search can lead to relevant information, a feature of quality information, personalisation is not necessarily a negative feature.

SERP of different search engines.

SERP of different search engines. Source.

Search engines give different results because bots crawl and have different representations of the web. Search engine specific algorithms rank keywords differently so the same search is presented differently.

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Reference

  1. Ostrow, A. (2010) Bing Now Powers Yahoo Search. [Online] [Accessed on 18th August 2013]

Local and global search engines

Localised search engines allow users to search for local information. Such information can lead to a business’ success or failure because local information is useful. What is the difference between local and global search engines?

Localised search engines analysed

Smith (2003) evaluated New Zealand’s, NZ, local search engines and found that global search engines had a higher recall rate and more sophisticated search tools compared to three NZ local search engines. This means that most localised search facilities are restricted and less effective whereas global search engines offer an effective search experience.

Regardless of how effective or ineffective local search engines are it is clear each search engine, irrespective of location, crawls and indexes completely different webpages because only 1% of relevant pages were found by all ten search engines in Smith’s study (4 gloabl, 3 local and 3 meta search engines). Simply by the choice of search engines, local or global, your results will be different because each search engine has different bots to crawl the web.

Local search is a large industry.

Local search is a large industry.

Local search engines are likely to boost the ranking of a website from a domain name (i.e. .co.uk websites will be boosted for queries from a UK searcher). Global search engines, conversely, tend to blend results from multiple domain names but place more weight on what country you are viewing these results in. Global search engines are, therefore, not completely global because our results are tailored to a specific location.

IP addresses and location

If you go onto Google.com your IP address will determine what version you use, for example, Google.co.uk for IP addresses within the United Kingdom or Google.ca for an IP address in Canada. This means that Google will always personalise your results to a specific region. Global search engines are biased towards localised results since IP addresses track a geographic location to influence results based on that location.

IP addresses enable localised search but what other technologies enable global search engines to determine your location or precise city?

  • User profiles can store a specific city within them (along with area/s of interest, age and gender).
  • Your internet service provider (ISP) could cover specific regions thus your IP address can narrow your location down to a specific region within a country.
  • Depending upon the device you use, and the access you grant, gloabl search engines may be able to pinpoint your location by GPS, for example.
Local information can be time saving.

Local information can be time saving.

Local is specific

Search engines as an information retrieval application are effective if you can search for specific information. Localised information can help with specificity so localised search engines can help with some, but not all localised, queries.

Other studies, in upcoming posts on Gerald Murphy’s Search, suggest that local search engines need to improve their system. It is however interesting to note that localised search enables more resources to be reviewed by the searcher because they crawl different websites.

Should I use a local search engine?

Do you use a localised search engine? Feel free to comment below or tweet Gerald about your search experiences.

Posted by Gerald Murphy

References

  1. Brinkley, M. and Burke, M. (1995) Information retrieval from the Internet: an evaluation of the tools. Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy. 5(3) pp. 3 — 10
  2. Grimes C, Tang D, Russell DDM. (2008) Query logs alone are not enough. In: Workshop on query log analysis
  3. Lopex-Pellicer, F. Florczyk, A.J. Bejar, R. Muro-Medrano, P.R. amd Zarazaga-Soria, F.J. (2011) Discovering geographic web services in search engines. Online Information Review. 35(6) pp. 909 — 927
  4. Smith, A.G. (2003) Think local, search global? Comparing search engines for searching geographically specific information. Online Information Review. 27(2) pp. 102 — 109