Yesterday I was in the Universal and Blended Search session at SES San Jose. Shashi Seth from Cooliris provided what I thought was a rather interesting statistic: In the typical search, searchers hit the "next page" link less than 20% of the time.

This means that less than 20% of searches actually get to the second page of search results. This leads to two important questions.

1) Are search engines simple not able to provide more than 10 relevant results for a query?

2) If they are, then why wouldn't they provide more than 10 results?

It seems to me that if the search engines are confident that they are providing strong, relevant results to a query, that they would want to provide more results than just 10 to each searcher. This isn't an issue with advertising, with longer results pages more PPC ads can be displayed. Expanding the results provides a lot more freedom than they would otherwise have.

I would think that providing more results on the first page would be a significant benefit to each user. More results means more options, which means more opportunity for the searcher to find what they are looking for.

With blended results, I would think this might be especially important. Since we are mixing images, blogs, news and whatever else the engines find relevant into the first ten results, expanding beyond ten provides more opportunities for the searcher to find the page, or information that best satisfies their query.

Which leads back to the first question. If the engines are still only providing 10 results on that first page, are they not confident in the quality of their results? Perhaps that question is answered by the users who click to the next page. Or more precisely, it's answered by the number of users who don't.

Personally, I'd like to see engines default to 25 results. Ten results seems to stem back to the days of slow internet connection speeds. That's not an issue anymore. I think it's time for the engines to come out of the early internet ages and start providing more results per page.

So to the search engines, I say... if you're confident in your results. Show us. Show us more results per page... by default.


August 19, 2008





Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.





Comments(14)

I'd like to see results from personalized searches, especially the data from those who set their preferences to return more than 10 results. If personalized search users have a greater % of clicks on pages that rank higher than 10 compared to those that continue to page 2 of the SERPs, it could mean that the engines are actually skewing relevancy by limiting the number of results.

I agree with you 100%. 25 search results per query does make sense as blended search is intergrated within the search results...hopefully someday the engines will listen to you and make the change! :o)

Makes a lot of sense to me. I still like the text results as they are the most relevant. I was looking for some Ray-Ban sunglasses the other day and found a YT video I didnt want to see and images that were not helpful.

When I go to Google search and, for instance, type in "real estate agent", almost exclusively all the sites that are returned has the search term in the domain name. Then, unusually, I go on page 2 and there are the real estate agents. You can about do this with about every industry. Eventually, all the domain names and the hyphenated domain names will expire and the guys who bought in early enough will be at the top of the listings, leaving the corporates on page 2.

er... am I missing something here? Search engines DO return more than 10 results - it's a very simple case of either using the 'advanced search' function to expand the number of results displayed on the first page or (wait for it....) CLICKING on the 'next page' link!

Phew, that's high tech!!

Maybe I am stupid, but I do not understand what problem you discuss. Search engines give more than 10 results, they give option for users to display pages with more than 10 results; for example, I see 100 results from Google. It's how I set it up.
The problem is - I think - that users do not pay attention to more than 10 results; this is not search engines fault; but the user behavior. Could we influence them? This could be a discussion.

I really think it depends on what the searcher is doing.

If I am trying to find something specific (what is the capital of Estonia, where can I get the schedule for Bus #5, what is the phone number for the great chinese restaurant on the corner), if the search engine can deliver one right result to me, then I am happy.

But if I am doing research or gathering information, I might look at 25 different Web sites from a combination of several searches. I rarely go beyond 5 pages of search results, but I usually don't limit myself to one page either.

@ Christa I'm not a fan of personalized results. Makes me fee like I'm missing something. But knowing those stats would be fun.

@ Jaan that's exactly why I'm not a fan of blended results. Blended but segmented is good, but all thrown in together, no thanks.

@ Nick, @ Gabi... that's just the issue. People DON'T change their settings, or click to the next page. So it's a usability issue. Give people what they want and don't make them hunt (click or change settings) for it.

Starting from your post, here is a beginning of a discussion: Top 10 in disgrace! Could we influence user behavior? at http://www.seogan.com/top-10-in-disgrace.

Great Post!
Keep it up
I also have Search Engine Marketing Education Blog. Can you suggest me some tips for that.

I think users don't hit the next button for one of three reasons: they realize their search term was
1) too vague
2) bringing up too many corporate sites

or

3) they found the result that met their needs on the first page.

I am unusual in being one of the few users who hit the next button, even if I find a relevant result on the first page. This is because I have found that every now and then there is a gem of a site buried beneath page after page of corporate advertisements. However, for every page after the third, there is a steadily diminishing return.

well I definitely can't agree with you there. If what you say is true, then why not limit the results to 5? While the search engines do need to focus on usability, in this case, usability is about delivering enough results for the user to find not just one, but several sites that meet their query. It's research. You don't get all your answers from a single book on a topic and therefore the engines should provide more options in terms of results. This is even more important with blended results. More options provide a broader base of information which is always good.

Hi Stoney,

A good article thanks.

One question I would like to raise: Who benefits the most by Google showing only 10 results (out of e.g. 10,000,000) on the first page ??? Those 10 fortunate sites get pretty much all of the organic keyword targeted traffic going. But what if you're not one of the lucky few and you desparately want some of that Google search action? Then you've got no choice but to throw your shirt into the adwords ring and bid up the frankly exhorbitant fees per click that Google now has the power to charge.

excellent point, Stan!

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