18 April 2005

Small number of words in searches: Why it makes sense

Search engines: Why searchers users shorter phrases

One of the bloggers mentioned something about searchers using shorter phrases in their searches.

I had some thoughts on why this is so.

If you have too many words in the search, it narrows your search to too few hits. If you're looking at a new area, you don't really want something narrow. Rather, you're better off going very wide at first, getting many hits, and then letting the search engine kick the most-likely=relevant-pages to the top.

The searcher is better off diving into the first page, reading some content, and then adjusting the subsequent search. Generally what happens is that the initial request is very broad because when doing research it's not known what things are.

This is another way of saying, "Most people would have a broad search using a search engine because they don't yet know enough to be focused." However, after reading just one page, they can quickly narrow down their terms, broader the search, or go in a new direction.

Titles

The other reason why searchers could be using fewer number of terms in the search engines is that users rely on the output-titles as a guide.

This is to say that when we look at the content-returns, sometimes the titles in themselves are more interesting than the initial search.

A search engine can provide a very specific webpage, and this may spark some additional thoughts and a new direction.

People will read the results, rather than enter terms to get an exact match. Because the search engine is going after terms, not content, the titles in the content may reveal something matching the user's interest.
Search engines: Why searchers users shorter phrases

One of the bloggers mentioned something about searchers using shorter phrases in their searches.

I had some thoughts on why this is so.

If you have too many words in the search, it narrows your search to too few hits. If you're looking at a new area, you don't really want something narrow. Rather, you're better off going very wide at first, getting many hits, and then letting the search engine kick the most-likely=relevant-pages to the top.

The searcher is better off diving into the first page, reading some content, and then adjusting the subsequent search. Generally what happens is that the initial request is very broad because when doing research it's not known what things are.

This is another way of saying, "Most people would have a broad search using a search engine because they don't yet know enough to be focused." However, after reading just one page, they can quickly narrow down their terms, broader the search, or go in a new direction.

Titles

The other reason why searchers could be using fewer number of terms in the search engines is that users rely on the output-titles as a guide.

This is to say that when we look at the content-returns, sometimes the titles in themselves are more interesting than the initial search.

A search engine can provide a very specific webpage, and this may spark some additional thoughts and a new direction.

People will read the results, rather than enter terms to get an exact match. Because the search engine is going after terms, not content, the titles in the content may reveal something matching the user's interest.
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