March 11, 2009

Study predicts click-through Web searches

U.S. scientists say they've created a system to gauge customer satisfaction with search engine results, allowing businesses to optimize their marketing.

Pennsylvania State University Associate Professor Jim Jansen and colleagues said their study is a first step in using neural networks in the analysis of user-system interactions for Web search data.

This research explores the online behaviors of users so that commercial search engine companies can utilize the data to improve click-through rates by designing more efficient retrieval and ranking algorithms, said Jansen.

Jansen -- along with graduate student Ying Zhang and Amanda Spink of Australia's Queensland University of Technology -- used search logs from to find the factors that predicted increased or decreased user click-throughs.

From a practical point of view, the more that a user reformulates the initial query, the click-through will increase, although there may be individual queries where the user clicks on no links, Jansen said.

The study is detailed in the March issue of the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.