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Most Search Engine Users Stop at Page 3 190

Posted by Zonk
from the keep-going-there-is-more-there dept.
ambient12 writes "The BBC reports on a study saying that, despite the depth of content internet search providers offer, most people stop at page 3 or earlier." From the article: "It also found that a third of users linked companies in the first page of results with top brands. The study surveyed 2,369 people from a US online consumer panel. It also found 62% of those surveyed clicked on a result on the first page, up from 48% in 2002. Some 90% of consumers clicked on a link in these pages, up from 81% in 2002. "
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Most Search Engine Users Stop at Page 3

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  • It makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by random_amber (957056) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:22PM (#15125583)
    I stopped reading this article before third sentence...
    • Re:It makes sense (Score:1, Insightful)

      by eggsovereasy (573119)
      Just shows that search engine technology is getting better.
      • Re:It makes sense (Score:3, Insightful)

        by aussie_a (778472)
        No it doesn't. If the first 3 pages are shit, I figure the rest will be as well.
        • Yeah, I agree. That's the first thing I thought when I read the summary: I rarely see search results that are actually meaningful after page 3.

          It's also hard for me to believe that if one cannot find something that applies to what they're looking for within the first 30 results, then their search terms either need to be refined, or they need a new search engine, or it's just not out there.
  • Well, duh. (Score:2, Informative)

    by susano_otter (123650)
    Personally, I start at the top of a set of Google results, and step through each link until I hit one that meets my needs.

    In other news, nobody likes to grovel through page after page of marginally-relevant crap.
    • I work it differently. I scan the results, and try and gauge which are worth visiting from the blurbs. On average, I only go into about 20-30% of links returned. It works well most of the time

      This is helpful for the kind of esoteric, but specific searches I do a lot of the time. Often, when little is forthcoming, I sometimes find what I was looking for in the 20th+ page of search results, on the 4th+ search, but I can manage it about twenty minutes.

      This works out well if you're searching for things like "pl
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:37PM (#15125721)
      > In other news, nobody likes to grovel through page after page of marginally-relevant crap.

      Welcome to Slashdot!

    • Re:Well, duh. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ergo98 (9391)
      In other news, nobody likes to grovel through page after page of marginally-relevant crap.

      Marginally relevant? I'll bet that for most terms you'd find just as applicable of results on the 10th page as you would on the 1st.

      Not only are there loads of excellent results out there -- far more than would fit on a couple of pages -- but the ones that got on the "front page" early (possibly just by association) are perhaps unjustly boosted: People making webpages/blog entries invariably link to search results that
      • Which is why I step through the top results until I find a good one.

        I just don't keep stepping through results until I've found several good ones. I'm not googling to do real research; I'm googling to satisfy idle curiosity.

        If I were doing real research, I'd use Wikipedia.
    • by skwirlmaster (555307) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @07:25PM (#15126031)
      Lets rephrase this Title a bit to give a better picture of what is really being said.

      Most Search Engine Users Stop after the first 60 hits

      3 pages seems a lot smaller than 30 hits, but most search engines return around 20 hits per page. Another case of fun with numbers being used to dress up a non-article.
  • by Monoman (8745) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:23PM (#15125591) Homepage
    Google has spoiled us. I can remember going through pages and pages of search results. Altavista was in improvement and then Google came along.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'll sometimes go as deep as ten pages when performing research, but usually after three or four pages I'll just revise my query. If I can't find what I want using a search engine, I'll use the search engine to find a site that will help me find what I want. If that seems to take too long I'll use Wikipedia to find links to sites that might links to sites containing what I want. Once I find sites that are full of useful content I bookmark them. Search engine results are honestly getting worse with time, and
      • by MDMurphy (208495) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:36PM (#15126450)
        Similar to the post above this, I do a quick search and if I don't see the results I'm looking for I reformulate the query. If the first page doesn't have what you are looking for, and lower ranked pages are supposedly less useful, your problem is likely the query, not the results.

        After serveral iterations of re-doing the query I'll then go deeper and deeper in the pages on the chance that what I'm looking for it more is more esoteric than what the top ranked pages contain.

        Also like the previous post I'll often hop off to Wikipedia. Since often a Wikipedia link is included in the original search results I don't really expect to find the answer there, but it might have additional information to help me refine my search.

        I thought the linked article was lacking in that it didn't seem to reference re-searching. It might just as well be true that people will reformat their queries until the results they want are in the first three pages. Why read 10 pages of summaries if adding an additional search term will bring a link from page 10 to page 1?
      • Try using clusty, (awful name,great search) as they take care of the reformulation for you.
    • This has nothing to do with Google. There have been similar studies dating back to 1995. At best about 30% of users go to the next page, and of those 30% go to the page after that and so on. This means that the the fourth page is seen by less than 3% of users.

      What I would expect is that with Google the number of people who go to the second page is even lower than before, perhaps 10-20%, which means less than 0.1-1% of users reach the fourth page.
      • In my anecdotal experience, it depends on what I'm looking for.

        I usually don't need to go past the first few pages when I'm casually googling for something. When I'm researching a topic, I'll dig deeper, and if there are a rediculously high number of results, I'll randomly skip ahead in the results.

        It's kindof like going to the library. Most of the time, do you really need more than 10 sources (or the first page of Google) to find a specific piece of information?
        • This is true. More sophisticated users are likely to dig deeper, issue queries with more terms and refine their searchers further. Unsophisticated users type very few terms, rarely go past the first page and tend to abandon the search session altogether if the response is not found. My statistics are a bit old, but I pressume this is still very much the case.
      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zipf's_law [wikipedia.org]

        Most days I don't refer to Zipf's law. Most days I don't need to. Some days I dig a little deeper in the dictionary because the stupidity I'm confronting is less ordinary.

        • OK, after getting over my snit that this constitutes a discovery, how about somebody wake me up again once someone bothers to quantify the entropy of the response distribution? Generally, the outliers amount a substantial swack of most distributions, even power law distributions.
        • Huh? I have the stats collected from a search engine, you have a link to wikipedia.
    • But after page 3, google only has link-farms, price aggregators, and porn-link top 500 sites.
  • Is that expected? (Score:4, Informative)

    by ThePyro (645161) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:23PM (#15125592)
    I almost always find exactly what I'm looking for on the first page. Isn't it a good thing that search engines do a good job of giving users relevant results on the first page?
  • Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:23PM (#15125596) Homepage
    If relevant results aren't in the first 3 pages, I'm going to retry my query with different keywords, because obviously I wasn't searching for the right thing.

    In my experience, most results after the first 2 or 3 pages are utterly worthless, and usually contain a bunch of foreign language mailing list posts, and repeats of earlier results mirrored on different sites.
    • That's what I thought. Sometimes you do go through all the 1 billion results, but only if you're desperate. What a total nullo article. Kind reminds me of this [penny-arcade.com].
    • Re:Duh (Score:3, Interesting)

      by reynaert (264437)
      Frankly, I'm amazed so many people looked beyond the first page.
    • Re:Duh (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mandrel (765308)

      In my experience, most results after the first 2 or 3 pages are utterly worthless, and usually contain a bunch of foreign language mailing list posts, and repeats of earlier results mirrored on different sites.

      Not always my experience. As a compulsive maximizer [blogspot.com], I can't help looking through 10s of pages of search results, often to the very last page. I often find the best links near the end, particularly for commercial stuff where the top results are more a reflection of market presence and SEO [wikipedia.org] rather

    • by Reziac (43301) *
      My experience exactly. Most of the time, if it's not on the first couple pages, either my query Needs Work, or it's nowhere to be found regardless.

      Even with the most accurate query, generally by the 3rd page you're down to linkfarms, foreign mirrors, and server junk (exposed logfiles etc.)

      On rare occasions there will be many pages of good results, but that's not typical, and generally only applies to very specific or niche queries that aren't linkfarm or forum fodder.

      So... if I don't see something at least
    • by Suhas (232056)
      Oh yeah? then I guess you have never looked for an old highschool friend named Britney Spears
    • by mikael (484)
      For me, the 4th and 5th pages are usually meta-search search pages, which have picked up the results of previous search queries by other people. Sometimes I go to the very last page and there will be a few useful pages but which are not linked to anything else.
  • This is news? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AuMatar (183847) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:23PM (#15125605)
    Search engines are made to find what you're looking for. If you don't find it on page 1, you generally need to be more specific in your keywords. So is anyone really surprised that search engines are getting better at finding what we want, and that people are getting better at forming querries with experience?
  • A page (Score:3, Informative)

    by chanrobi (944359) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:23PM (#15125608)
    can have differing numbers of search results. My google prefernece is set to 50 per page. Useless study?
    • Not really. I used to have Google set to 100 per page, but I still seemed to look at about the first 3 pages before giving up and trying again -- same as I do with just 10 results per page! (Google lost my settings and I haven't bothered to change it back, which I suppose says something about the typical uselessness of anything beyond the first 30 results.)

      So... I think it's a matter of the number of times people are willing to go to the NEXT page before giving up, rather than the absolute number of result
    • Yep, just what I was gonna say.

      Also worth pointing out that I'd often find what I wanted on the first page if it wasn't for all those aggregators and link whores jamming up all the top links all the time. You know: Kelkoo, dealtime, PriceGrabber, shopperuk, Shopzilla, and the like. I don't mind them clogging up the sponsored links, coz I usually ignore those, but do they really need to take up all that space in the main list? I mean, is anyone really fooled into thinking that there's ever any genuine i

  • What I do (Score:5, Funny)

    by mboverload (657893) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:23PM (#15125609) Journal
    If it's not on the first page of Google, it doesn't exist.
  • Stop at page 3? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vertinox (846076) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:24PM (#15125611)
    If I don't find my search on the first page, I re-word my search.

    If it isn't on the top first 5 hits, then I'm not going to find it any faster by scouring pages worth of info. Adding quotes or using a different phrase is my next step.
  • Only 10% of slashdot readers read past the third post!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I mean, honestly now, who wouldn't stop at page 3 [wikipedia.org]?
  • by Xshare (762241) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:25PM (#15125629) Homepage
    The depth of a search engine is *not* so that you have tons of results for a single search term, and therefore a wealth of knowledge. The depth is so that on a very specialized search, you find exactly what you need. Those results in the far-back pages are not necessary to someone who needs something from the first 3 pages, whereas they may come to be necessary later, when they come onto the first page due to being more relevent to what the searcher needs. In fact, I think the fact that people find what they need in the first couple pages is actually a testament to how good search engines are nowadays.
    • In fact, I think the fact that people find what they need in the first couple pages is actually a testament to how good search engines are nowadays.

      I think the interesting part is what happens if the average person doesn't find what they need within the first few pages of results.

      Personally, if what I need isn't within the first 5 pages, I'll try refining my search. The problem is that if your search turns up 300 000 results, sorted by relevence, the tail end is typically going to be packed with a lot

  • 62% of those surveyed clicked on a result on the first page, up from 48% in 2002 Since ~80% of people use google for searching, this shows that - not only other search engines have improved, google search itself is improving quite a bit. Also, I really doubt the valuse of this study. Isnt this obvious ? Also FTFA - businesses needed to take the results of the study on board duh !!
    • Also FTFA - businesses needed to take the results of the study on board duh !!

      You'd be surprised at how many businesses have no fuggin' clue about the importance of showing up on the first page of a Google search. I've talked to clients who say, "We're doing pretty good. Our most important keyword is ranked in the Top 40 on Google." Riiight.

      It's the Attention Econony. If you have people's attention, you might be able to convince them to buy whatever it is you're selling (a product, an idea, the latest

    • 62% of those surveyed clicked on a result on the first page, up from 48% in 2002

      Doesn't that just prove that people got better in their ability to put in useful key terms? I mean, I can search for "this thing" and get a billion hits, but not want to click on any of them, but if I put in "1953 corvette right fender puce HAF-9384 IL" I'll probably find what I'm looking for quicker and actually want to click on ot. 62% of people are learning just that.
      • Being able to hone in on search terms is a good idea as well. I wonder how many people stare at the screen and think "well, I want to know about this type of dog, but the name escapes me". A search engine could help by listing out narrower queries from a broad one.
  • Makes sense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by misleb (129952) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:28PM (#15125650)
    I don't usually go past page 3. Not because I am lazy or have a short attention span. I just find that after 3 pages, the information is hardly relevent and I try different search terms. Although I can't say I use it to determine "top brands" as I'm usually searching for some kind of tech solution or documentation or something like that. Who Googles stuff like "shoes" or "harddrive" or something generic like that? Those kinds of searches are for specific shopping sites. And then, one is often searching for a specific price range or similar.

    What's the big deal? Should people be looking past page 3?

    -matthew
  • Well, yeah (Score:3, Funny)

    by Digital Vomit (891734) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:29PM (#15125653) Homepage Journal
    Isn't that where the hot chick is [wikipedia.org]?
    • Grrr.
      This post almost lost me, my job.
      Please be careful (or provide danger signs) if such links are posted.

      Thanks You
      • Bull. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by 2short (466733) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:50PM (#15125820)
        You've got to be kidding. So where you work:

          It's fine to be reading slashdot.
          It's fine to look at whatever you expected the words "hot chick" to link to.
          You're going to get fired if your screen displays a wikipedia article that includes a grainy scan of a 36 year old newspaper picture, because if you look close, there's a boobie!

        If your employers are truly that irrational, quit. Asking others who don't even work there to worry about such insanity is crazy.
        • It's fine to look at whatever you expected the words "hot chick" to link to.

          You do realize that "chicks" can be "hot" even with their clothes on, right? I mean, are we really that jaded?

          Also, the post was modded funny and it was on the Wikipedia. I personally wasn't aware that the Wikipedia allowed NSFW images until today.
          • "You do realize that 'chicks' can be 'hot' even with their clothes on, right?"

            Absolutely. My problem is with expecting others to classify that picture as NSFW at all. Plenty of pictures of fully clothed women ought to be considered less "safe for work" than the picture linked to. Of all the pictures the words "hot chick" have ever been linked to, that has got to be in the bottom 1% of objectionability.

            Actually, my problem is with expecting others to classify links as NSFW at all. If there is any picture
  • by WebHostingGuy (825421) * on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:31PM (#15125667) Homepage Journal
    For pure information I would agree I hardly go past the first few pages. However, if I am looking for a product then I do go past three. The reason is that there are so many filtered doorways and spam link pages or other non-relevant pages mentioning the product that they crud up the search. Even Froogle doesn't hit it right the first time all the time.
  • Normally after the third page the links are too irrelevant. On a side note, who here ever actually clicks googles sponsored links?
    • Once in a very blue moon, I will find something interesting. Sadly, if I am looking for something, then a competitor will adver. and they are not useful.
    • I never did until just about a week ago. I was requested, by my employer, to locate a software solution. Both open source and proprietary were to be considered. For the non open source, I checked all of the major add links that google coughed up on my keyword search. It was actually quicker than digging through the redundant links in the search. Other than that? Never. I always find what I am looking for without those links.
    • I look at the first couple of pages and then occasionally click on page 10 to see if there's a significant change in later results for the better or a unique link. Like most, if I don't find it right away I change my keywords.

      I'll click on a google sponsored link if it's relevant, but there's a lot of useless link to ebay, shopzilla, etc.
  • Most of the time, Google gives me the result that I need in 2 pages. Back in the day when I used Yahoo and Alta Vista, I needed to go through 10 pages to get it.
  • Too often I jump to page four in a hurry - because the first three pages are always filled with links to shopping websites that offer no useful information.

    Yes, I mean you e-bay, consumerguide, cnet, consumersearch, bizrate.....

    I would pay Google to exclude these things
  • I stop at 1. For what I'm searching for, after the first page I'm getting foreign languages or jibberish.
  • Go to http://www.google.com/ [google.com], type in "RadioListings", click "I'm Feeling Lucky" - and hey presto, you've found my site!
  • re-enter keywords (Score:1, Redundant)

    by abradsn (542213)
    Like most people, If I do a search that doesn't give me what I want in the first few pages. I just do another search with different keywords.
     
    I doubt that was a factor that is taken into account.
  • Contray to this article, I find even page one is increasingly useless and filled with marketing. Page one is often contrived and page three results start to disintegrate in relevance. Page two is often the best page. It's like a tabloid paper in ways. Page one is often a crass headline about a celeb's butt or some such. The back pages are about steroid athletes with gambling and porn club ads. A person needs to be diligent to find something relevant sandwiched away in the center somewhere.
  • I go to 1000 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by winmine (934311)
    Sometimes I feel the need to see the 1001st result, but google won't let me. [google.com] :(
  • Usually, if I cannot find a link that works for me on the first page, I try some different search words.

    The only time I EVER go through more than 5 pages of a search is when I'm doing research for a paper.

  • by Rapier (25378) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:41PM (#15125754) Homepage
    I couldn't stop laughing when I read that headline... I hadn't looked at Page3.com [page3.com] for a long time, but definitly a good place to stop.
  • I always stop at Page 3, but that's because I read The Sun.

    (Figure it out, folks.)

  • making http://www.lastgoogle.com/ [lastgoogle.com] more useless than ever
  • this also supports the notion that search engines are really good at what they're doing.
  • if there's only a handful of hits, I go through them all.
    If there are thousands of hits I guess that the first few are bogus and skip down a few hundred
  • Frankly, I'm surprised any major portion of searches get past page 2 or even 1. Sure, once in a rare while I'll go to page 3, but usually if I have to go that far back, I'll just refine my search and try again. And with today's relevant searches, I usually find what I need in the first 5 results.
  • by Tim C (15259)
    This has been common knowledge amongst search engine providers for years. I remember attending a training course for Verity K2 Enterprise back in 2002 or so and being told pretty much this; the upshot of which is that if your implementation means that relvant results are languishing down on page 4 or below, you might as well give up now...
  • by greg_barton (5551) *
    I'm clearly superior because I go to 11.

    11, 11, 11.
  • Google? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Illbay (700081)
    Is this article about GOOGLE, or The Sun [page3.com]?
  • I hope advertisers don't get ahold of this research. If they find out that being near the front of search results is important, they might start playing dirty tricks to get to the front! The entire Web could be reduced to a mush of keyword spamming and link farms, making it difficult to find solid information! Whew, I sure hope that doesn't happen, it would be awful.
  • Since Google has become so popular over the last seven years or so since I first started using it, and advertisers have started abusing PageRank, I'm finding more often I have to go past the first three pages to find the results I'm looking for when it is a search for a popular topic.

    Looking for reviews about a product? The first page is always nothing more than sites linking to other sites for reviews (many of which are the same review or marketing materials posted on several differnt places).

    Plus, when I
  • .. people in bands. I've noticed that the only search engine referrals I get beyond the 4th or 5th page or for band names, often obscure indie bands, and they might get down to page 30 or 40 before they hit the passing mention I make of them on my site.

    There are some seriously self-conscious people out there in the music world. And yeah most of them are self-searchers, based on when I've baited and panned bands and gotten direct reactions from them.

  • There's a third page?
  • I've gotten to where I automatically click on page 5 or so for a lot of searches to get past all the spammy garbage.
  • The article doesn't seem to go into too much detail about the methodology and the survey questions, and what their sample group was. And, of course, most importantly, what they were searching for.

    Most of the time, most of what you are going to be looking for is going to come up on the first few pages. And it is all going to be the same information, repeated on different sites. For example, say I am looking for the address of a local cafe called "Hipster Dudes Coffee", I am probably going to find its address
  • With Google set to display 50 results per page I rarely need to get beyond page 3 :)

    Actually, no. If until the page 3 you didn't find what you wanted, you likely have an idea what's wrong with your search terms and add some -sex -buy -ass or such to your search terms, culling 95% of spam that appeared in the first 3 pages, and getting THE result within 3 pages away. This means I get the site that was, say, on page 70, but not by skipping 70 pages but by narrowing search terms and pulling it up.

    I -did- sear
  • Umm, what search engine? What are the details. Frankly google is probably higher in the first page hits, but is unlikely to be the target audience for this article. Seems to create an atmosphere, yes I know it says it as well, of opinion that you have to have your website on the front page.

    Who benefits?

    Google? nope they try to actually give search results. Who else? Well I don't use them, but in the old days some search engines used to sell placements. I assume it's either them or businesses who sel
  • Since I started using Google, I just always click on I'm Feeling Lucky [google.com] . After all who am I to second-guess the Great and All-knowing Google.
  • The default page size at Google.com is 10... I have mine set to 50, for the very reason that I hate paging. I still go through about 3 pages... but 3 of my pages is 5 times the number of results of a 10 result page.

  • Doesn't this just mean that the search engines are doing their job well? I mean, when I use a search engine, it's because I'm searching for something specific, and I usually find what I'm looking for in the first 30 links (I use Google at the default setting of 10 links per page). If I don't find one valid candidate in the first two pages, I try a different search.
  • What it is is a product of the fact that search engines are actually useful now. I remember in Altavista you used to have to wade knee deep in sewage through all the pages before you found something relevant to what you searched for. Because of the way the engine functioned, the first results were usually the least relevant. Nowadays search engines like Google usually nail it outright, making even the "I'm feeling lucky" button work a majority of the time. I see this as an absolutely positive thing, and

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