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Simplicity and Search Quality Go Hand in Hand

Google Researcher Looks at Search Habits

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Google respects simplicity. That’s clear based on the design of their home page (assuming you don’t use iGoogle). It’s changed very little since the beginning. It’s simple, clean, and familiar. A field study from Google into the search habits of users has made it even more clear that simplicity reigns supreme when it comes to search.

We who are to any degree, professionally involved with the search engine and technology industries often take things for granted. We know what certain words and phrases mean, and often expect others to, when the reality is that they don’t. I’m not saying I’m the smartest guy out there either. I am constantly looking up words and phrases myself (just one of the many useful yet simple features Google offers).

Google has acknowledged this though by making its advanced search tool simpler. Search Quality Researcher Daniel Russell says at the Official Google Blog:

Armed with this insight from field studies, we redesigned the page, simplifying it by removing terms that were unclear to the average user (the word "occurrences," for example, just didn’t mean anything to many of the Advanced Search page users), moving rarely used features (numeric range searches, date searches, etc.) into a part of the page that was expandable with a single click. That made them easy to get to for people who knew they wanted to search with those restrictions, but out of the way in a non-threatening way.

One of the other things we noted in the field study was that people often didn’t understand how the Advanced Search page worked. So we added a "visible query builder" region at the top of the page. As you fill in the blanks, the box at the top of the page fills in with the query that you could type into Google. It was our way of making visible the effects of advanced search operators.

The product of redesigning the page looks like this(you can see the old version here). That wasn’t what the whole field study was about though. In Google’s ongoing quest to improve search quality, they observed people’s search habits, and found that in the end, while some of the information retrieved was useful, much of it was unreliable. In other words, when people are being watched by researchers, they act differently than they would otherwise.

Eye tracking was an additional component of the field study. They provided an interesting look at this with the following video. The red dot in the video represents the movement of eyes on the page for three different users.


I suggest reading Russell’s post in its entirety to get a better feel for the kind of research he has been doing. In fact, his post is really only the latest in a series on search quality from the Google Blog. The series itself is definitely worth checking out for gaining insight into Google’s search quality quest.

Simplicity and Search Quality Go Hand in Hand
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  • http://www.eleganthomesinwesttoronto.com David Pylyp

    As we are all striving to achieve keyword recognition for ranking in Google ( and other search engines) we often overlook the long tail searches that someone might use.  Make better use of narrowing the focus of your searches.

    My search of City (Toronto) area (west) Homes finds my site listings, but a search of how someone might actually key something in surprised me with a long winded search phrase.

    my search of " executive townhomes near Islinton Subway"  found the pages directly without bringing up the sites main page and forcing them, the user, to find what they were seeking.

    It is incredible technology and we need to make use of it.

    David Pylyp

  • http://abdal976.wordpress.com ABDAL MALIK

    Good luck and succes for you, All. Thank’s.

  • http://www.shapirit.biz Ricardo Goldberg

    As a shocking fact we can learn by the posted video that the movement of the eye NEVER GOES TO THE SPONSORED LINKS !

    Why some of us waste money on it?

  • http://www.ukfinancials.com hogoworld

    Hi,

    Before you can start writing the essential text for your pages that will boost your search engine ranking, you have to know which keywords and key phrases to use and you should understand how to find the best keywords to use and how to incorporate them into your site text. I prefer to concentrate first long tail key words, there are many tool available to find out key words who derived visitor to your web site.

    Thanks

    Regards

  • http://facebookjunkie.blogspot.com facebook junkie

    Keywords are very important, specially when you include them in your domain name and in your page titles.

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