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User Satisfaction
What makes for a satisfied user?

 6:23 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

Doing some research on user satisfaction with search engines. Would appreciate any information you might have about if users are dissatisfied, why, and what would make them happier with their search experience?



 6:54 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

Hi jliving and welcome,

No need to hold out on us, if you are genuinely looking for feedback on why some people prefer some SE's over others tell us why.

What are you looking for?
Why are you looking?

Many here will help you, just give us a reason.


 7:04 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

Work for a large SE company. Any input that is given here could be incorporated into making a more user friendly engine.
Not trying to hold out, just new to these forums.


 7:46 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

Welcome, John. I believe you'll find WebmasterWorld to be a great place to engage in serious discussion on SE development issues. For instance, we're currently hosting several threads on cloaking [webmasterworld.com]with Mikkel Svendsen. Do you have any specific concerns you'd like to address? I'll give some thought re my users, but I must tell you that it's what they don't know about SE's that concerns me, and not so much their level of satisfaction.


 8:10 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

(Rockintom posted this reply. Transferred here.)

Welcome to WmW, jliving. I think this is probably a very oversimplistic answer to your question, but seeing as how I am a search engine user when I'm not being an SEO, I'll give it a shot.

I like an easy, uncluttered user interface, like Google for one, but the most important thing I look for is fresh, relevent information when I perform a search.

Some engines take forever to update their databases, like Excite, Fast/Lycos, and it makes me wonder how useful their site results are when sites are appearing and disappearing like crazy on the web. These days a company can launch and go out of business before some engine finally list them!


 8:14 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

>I like an easy, uncluttered user interface, like Google for one, but the most important thing I look for is fresh, relevent information when I perform a search.

YUP and what I do not like is when:
aol sometimes puts a popup right in front of the search box.
netscape puts a popup right in front of the search box.

But they are not search engines. They are cluttered Portals with an engine.



 8:29 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

as a user, I do NOT like

return pages that fail to show the url of the return line.

compressed returns (i.e., more pages from this site). the titles of each and every page help me determine relevancy. If I want to dismiss a site, I know how to code a minus sign.

background sounds, music (waste of my bandwidth/time)

I DO like the option of setting total number of returns per page. I had used AV text version for years, so the "clean interface" issue wasn't the reason I switched to Raging.


 8:38 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)


I used to be an avid AV user until Google. Google's descriptions stink so you one up them there, but they seem to do a bit better for me relevance wise (duck!), especially on obscure topics, I always find what I am looking for in the top ten, I can't think of one exception, but I still use AV occassionally (except when my pages aren't ranking well!). I really like AVs option to be able to turn on file size and last updated, last updated is extremely helpful for me. I appreciate that AV is the fastest updating spidering engine these days. I, like a lot of others around here, would love a clear definition of spam but all in all, it is my second favorite engine. Thanks for stopping by...


 8:51 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

>Work for a large SE company

Give us a clue jliving. ;)

In answer to your question:

Most satisfied = AV; Why? = Relevant results, low spam.

Second = Google; Why? = On obscure searches where the search terms would not normally appear in the desc they are invaluable. If only they would display the desc tag if the keywords were present they would be No. 1.

Least satisfied = Yahoo
Second = Excite


 9:23 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

When we say AV, aren't most of us using Raging?


 9:30 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

>When we say AV, aren't most of us using Raging?

Not me, old habits are hard to break.


 10:03 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

Out of habit, I still use AltaVista most of the time. Their results are usually somewhat relevant. I am still looking for an engine that I a satisfied with. Maybe I am asking too much but an ideal engine would provide fresh, relevant results with no 404 pages. I guess since I am dreaming I would also like to retire to my own private island in the South Pacific.


 10:13 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

Hi jliving, welcome to the board.

AltaVista, 95% satisified. I really like what Alta has done in the last year. A few minor points-of-contention with AV:
- The need for speed. Av has ben slow and slower this summer and fall. Ya, it will make me use soemthing else when I'm in a hurry.
- Don't want or need the "translate", "more pages" or "related pages" links. Nobody uses that stuff - it is not worth the extra bytes to download it. No I don't want to configure it. I want it gone by default.
- Page size and last download date. I'd like them back.
- Cut down the search page size. It is kicking at 30k. That is too much for 10 simple listings.
- Darking the search results. The descrptions are so visually overpowered by the titles and the "translate" links, that they are hard too read. They are almost the most important part of the page and it is displayed in a very light color (too light). I think this fact alone drives me away from av some times. Almost every time at AV I end up clicking the "kill css" button within Opera.
- Autorefresh? Why, it's annoying to be surfing in a new window, and see alta refresh it's self in the back. Although, I use it as a disconnection stopper for the entire day.

Raging: a nice idea. Sometimes the results line up with AV, sometimes they don't. Why? I always wonder just what the results really are.
The speed is better. Still has the 'more like this', 'related' junk on the page. Who told the se's we wanted this stuff? I sure don't.
I wish they would also nuke the "hr" tags between the results - makes the page hard to read with no white space.

Fast AllTheWeb85% satisified. It really is FAST. Touch spammy at times, but it is so quick to use. I often find myself there when I know I'm to have to dig though alot of results to find what I want. (I wish AV were this fast).

Lycos, way too much extra info on the search page (self spam). The ratio of content to advertising is much too much. I think Lycos is in a contest with Internet.com to see who can put the most self advertisments on a page.

Hotbot, if I wanted to know who can write the best description line, I'd hold a contest. They turned one of the best se's on the net into one of the worst. I don't care for dayglow.

Infoseek. I still like em. Fast, clean looking results and mostly relavant. No depth though - searches tap out at the top ten. Search Within These Results is killer.

Excite: I like what they have done this year by cleaning up the search results of all the extra nonsense. The problem with Excite is coverage - results just aren't deep enough or fresh.

Google. The results pages read like randsom notes. I rarely find what I am after at Google, I rarely use it anymore. The excerpted style results is of no use. I'd rather read a full title and full description.


 11:27 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

Hello im new here, i found this site through webpromotionguide.com
I also love altavista but now even more since i recently started using raging...it lets you look between 200-500 which makes it easier to find my site ;)
I also dont like google at all because of the way it gives the results although the cached page comes in usefull.


 11:39 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

>raging...it lets you look between 200-500 which makes it easier to find my site

heh, heh... With an attitude like that, you're going to do alright here, UKS. Welcome to WmW.

My pecking order:

For the type of searches I'm doing, I rarely have to leave raging, but I often run a concurrent search in ixquick to see where the parallels are in the returns. For threads just not seen elsewhere, I find I'm going more and more to metaeureka. Knowing that the SE has spidered deep is very, very important to me.


 11:51 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

Thanks rcj but seriously the reason why i and probably most other seo like AV is the following monday re-index, it is something really to look forward to which is more than i can say for most of the other searchengines!
Time to go to bed now see you all tomorrow it is 12:52am here.


 12:01 am on Oct 7, 2000 (gmt 0)

A year or so ago Alta Vista was my search engine of choice becassue the results were extremely good. However all the filtering out of so called spammers has resulted in searches like this one: here [altavista.com] or this one: here [altavista.com]

A quick search of the parent sites for mitsubishi and honda shows that AV has only a tiny tiny bit of their pages indexed: here [altavista.com] and here [altavista.com] and they don't show up in searches. The same stands true for the other 60 plus car makes. What is more on target than the parent company???

Some of those sites are dynamic - but AV completely wiped out doorway pages that made it possible for people to find them and/or their product. Thousands and thousands of sites that went to the trouble to build static pages are no long findable in AV because those static pages were considered spam.

Granted some of them were - but what kind of policy is it to kill everyone in the village just to make sure you get the one guy who ripped off an apple from the village leader.

And on top of that it appears there are still tons of spamy doorway pages in AV - safely tucked into the database. As long as they are not re-submitted they seem to go undetected.

Agree with Brett on Google's description but feel their results are by far better then any other SE today. The same could have been said about INKTOMI about 6 months ago.

Back to Google - they are current (looking for a cancer treatment, current could help) they are not afraid to spider and index everything (seems they have faith in their own algorithm) But - the same could have been said for INKTOMI and AV a year ago...

It seems with most search engines that turning a profit and valid serach results are at odds with each other. When someone figures out how to make those two things go hand in hand, the internet will have a useful search engine agian.

John - assuming you work for AV I want to compliment you for coming to the front lines to find out how to better server your visitors. I also think that (though I can't speak for) all the moderators here would welcome the opportunity to communicate with you publicly as well as in private. It's the kind of relationship that out of could grow the biggest, the best and the most profitable search engine on the internet. Welcome!!!

My best


 12:23 am on Oct 7, 2000 (gmt 0)

Totally disagree, if i was looking for the official website i wouldnt type in honda accord..i would type in honda.
And just because it shows only a few pages submitted to av doesnt mean they havent spiderd the whole site!
This is where seo come in, just because people are the official web site owners like honda, ford etc doesnt give them the right to be at no1 position.


 1:30 am on Oct 7, 2000 (gmt 0)

uksitesubmit - welcometo the boards!!!

>>doesnt give them the right to be at no1 position.

That's true, it doesn't, but wouldn't it be nice if a search for honda accord turned up usable, current web sites to research the vehicle from???


 4:12 am on Oct 7, 2000 (gmt 0)

Thanks guys for all your useful information. It has been noted and will be used for further discussion with my fellow workers.
For those that are just getting to this reply, please feel free to put your two cents worth in. Believe it or not, your input may result in user friendly changes to the SE.


 4:53 am on Oct 7, 2000 (gmt 0)

I use inference.com, when the "commercial" SE's don't give me what I'm looking for...

My suggestions for any "Commercial" SE:

Keep the "glut" on the start page, and keep the search listings as "lean and mean" as possible. I understand that selling as much "real estate" as possible equates to revenues, but it's gotten ridiculous over the last year.

I want to see the listings, without having to think about it, navigate through a half page of "sponsored" crap, and feel the frustration setting in.... :)

And of course, I want the SE to be "stable", and let my top 10 rankings to "totally relevant content of course" stick like cement! :)

Dave Stewart

 2:55 pm on Oct 7, 2000 (gmt 0)

First of all, WHY ISN'T MY PAGE #1?!? Just kidding....

Things that get stuck in my craw (Old Missouri saying):
1. Sounds/Music. Get rid of them, even on banners.
2. Autorefresh. Can't stand anything stealing bandwidth.
3. Blanket banning. Referencing stcrim here, sites with dynamic content who build RELEVANT static doorways should not be banned. I know of several.
4. Not updating a DB. Webcrawler (worst offender) & Excite.
5. Clutter. Bothers me mostly because of bandwidth.
6. Using links as the only reference to relevance. I'm not sure that this is the brightest idea. I find alot of unrelevant searches on Google. Let's still base relevancy on CONTENT!
//Irish Brogue//"Throw the lot of 'em in the lake"
Not really. Most are doing a bang up job. Most could do much better too.

John, I've always felt communication can solve mountainous problems. I appreciate, more than you know, your being involved. Keep up the good work, and bring your buddies!!


 5:58 pm on Oct 7, 2000 (gmt 0)

One thing I don't like about altavista is that the more specific the quarry the less relevant the results. For instance:
A search for LWP redirect cookies [altavista.com] and you do not get anything useful. The top sites for each individual word comes up. To get the
results I want [altavista.com] to look at I need to add the '+' but most people don't know how or want to do that. If you just fixed that AV's searches would become a lot more relevant to people.


 6:16 pm on Oct 7, 2000 (gmt 0)

This is the fun part of altavista, if you want to use the advanced search it is probably way over most ordinary surfers head but once you learn how to use it ,it can be one of the most advanced search tools on the web today.
Another really interesting tool is the number of words searched for at the end of the search it also lets you know whether the phrase is a phrase or 3 seperate words.
ie. domain, domain name, and domain name registration are all classified as single words as im sure you lot already knew!


 4:48 am on Oct 8, 2000 (gmt 0)

I agree very much with littleman -- the ability to fine tune very specific searches needs to be more intuitive for the average user. Boolean algebra is not ever going to be casual street corner conversation.

Along these lines, I recently spent a few minutes doing searches on the metasearch engine, IXQuick. I was using three word phrases. Since the results they return must be in the top ten on at least one engine, some high degree of relevance would be expected.

Nevertheless, most SERPs were relevant to only one, or at most two of the words. A search of the returned page often would not find all three words. In the top ten, that just isn't good enough.


 11:34 pm on Oct 8, 2000 (gmt 0)

I truely hope this exchange of thoughts helps you. May I also ask a question?

In a search for Toyota 4Runner, what is it about this search [altavista.com] that floats this page [off-road.com] to the number one position.

And within the top ten for the above search do you see any pages that would actually help someone learn more about or purchase a Toyota 4Runner other than the paid ads???

And, do you feel any user would be satisfied with such results, when their goal is to learn more about or purchase a Toyota 4Runner.

Your insight and thoughts would be greatly appreciated!



 2:30 am on Oct 9, 2000 (gmt 0)

I'm don't mean to be a "wise azz" but, Do we really need another SE? My BIGGEST problemo with all the SE's is that the info. on page hit #90 is what the user really wants, but the promoter of the site is not doing the BEST job of getting to the "TOP." So, no one would know he/she is alive. Not that I have any answers, but as the WEB gets bigger and bigger, I see the issue just getting deeper. Thought DMOZ was a hot idea, but it too is now crowded.

I agree with all the opinions, that say to use the K.I.S.S method. Clean interface, fast response time and definitely UPDATED results. Love the speed and results on IXquick.

Just my 2 scents :-)


 3:05 pm on Oct 9, 2000 (gmt 0)

jliving: in reply to your original post.. i like the clean simple 'look' for eg. "Google". i like speedy results and relevant results especially when using a phrase.

Also, what about opening a new box when clicking on a result. (With one box - after following dif links of a result, and going,"well that was a ****** waste of time"; i have to either click back several times or start over. [In my line of biz, one has to be on the lookout for new resources, one never knows where it might be].

stcrim: i think perhaps you should leave Toy alone and look at Mitsubishi! :)

Back to jliving: which SE?? and... err.. buddy ..err... you joining in the cloaking discussion soon??


 4:07 am on Oct 10, 2000 (gmt 0)

Yea to:

*clean results page
*direct link included in listing
*date of page d/l in listing too
*fast results
*text ads rather than banner ads (good job Google)
*search within results
*fresh results (get movin' spidy)

Nay to:

*excessive spam filters (chill out AV, a *little* spam never hurt anyone)
*100% spam
*discussion board posting pages in the top 10 (or the whole index altogether)
*having to scroll before results are visible
*stale results
***results pages that read like randsom notes (needs to be stressed)


 2:46 am on Oct 18, 2000 (gmt 0)

I prefer a fast, simple search page with a *single list* of results. I dislike the new Go and a lot of the directories that spit out 3 or 4 lists with various ranking systems.

I also prefer that the results give me the site's main page rather than internal pages, and that I not get any sites with frames or javascript popups in the results.

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