By PT Staff, published on June 27, 2003 - last reviewed on April 6, 2006
Online, the clock is ticking. When searching for information on the
web, people apparently have short attention spans—and itchy trigger
fingers. One in five web viewers spends a minute or less with a search
engine, according to Penn State researchers. After three minutes of
searching, two out of five people have given up and moved on.
To understand the habits of web users, Jim Jansen, a professor at the university's School of Information Sciences, analyzed
one day's queries at the search engine alltheweb.com. Jansen charted how
long users stayed at the site, how many pages they visited and how
relevant each result was. The day's tally included more than 450,000
According to Jansen, web searchers were quick to judge. Half the
users completed just one search and 54 percent of visitors only clicked
on one search result.
Unfortunately, those quick-draw results don't mean that web
searchers are well served by Internet search engines. Analyzing the
queries further, the researchers found that one out of every two results
weren't relevant to the original request. Jansen concludes that there is
room for search engines to improve—especially when searchers suffer
from impatience and a double-click mentality.