Best Bets in search results - integrated or separate?

22 Mar 2010 - 9:10pm
4 years ago
9 replies
1338 reads
stewwalker
2010

Hi all

About to design a search results page for a site search, which will include Best Bets (results that are promoted manually for particular search terms). I'd appreciate your thoughts on whether the Best Bets should be:

  • integrated into the 'organic' search results, or
  • shown separately, in the same way that Google and other search engines show their paid results separately from the paid results.

 

The Best Bets are not ads - they are an attempt to provide better results for the user.

I'm leaning towards integrating them, as I think it places less cognitive load on the user. If the Best Bets are separate, the user has to decide whether to pay attention to the Best Bets or the organic results. But if they're integrated and shown as the first X results, the user just starts at the top of the result set and works their way down.

Thanks in advance for your input.

Cheers

Stewart

Comments

22 Mar 2010 - 9:53pm
John Yuda
2009

I think that having the best bets separate is likely to make users wonder why the other results are being shown at all if they're not expected to be accurate. To that end, I would integrate them.

In fact, I've kind of had the same thought myself: if you don't have faith in the old/alternate search results, why are you still serving them? Returning *more* results isn't of much use if they're not accurate; as a user, I'd rather have a shorter list of good hits than a long list of things that are, at best, tangentially related to my search.

23 Mar 2010 - 2:58am
milan
2005

I'd opt for integration. This is a very common problem in the Intranet sphere, where I saw a lot of users simply ignoring separate best bets, applying their habits from internet search. To overcome that issue, the design has to communicate that these "sponsored" links may be more accurate than the others, which is just the inverse from the way Google works.

They are a very powerful way to improve your search without too much effort, especially when quickly adding keywords you see in your usage data, but only when people see them. I think also it is important to format them visually disctinct from the automatic search results, but avoid making them look like advertising.

Of course that is my personal view on best practice, search results design is a highly controversial field.

milan

23 Mar 2010 - 9:18pm
Justin Davis
2008

If the Best Bets are intended to provide better results, then why would you call attention to them separately, instead of just bubbling them up to the top of the list automatically?  If there's no qualitative difference in the results other than being better results (which, in the mind of the user, should be on the top of the list anyway), why call out a difference?

It seems to me (and just my opinion) that unless there's a difference other than relevance, there's no reason to call them out.  Now, if they're "sponsored", "hand-picked" or have some other quality attached, I think it makes sense (and integrating them makes sense as well), but I'm interested in hearing the rationale for calling attention to them.

Justin

26 Mar 2010 - 4:50pm
morville
2010

Best Bets are hand-picked, so it may make sense to visually differentiate them for the sake of transparency, and for the minority of folks who understand and care about what's going on behind the scenes.

Peter Morville President, Semantic Studios http://semanticstudios.com/ http://findability.org/

On Mar 23, 2010, at 11:19 PM, Justin Davis wrote:

> If the Best Bets are intended to provide better results, then why would you call attention to them separately, instead of just bubbling them up to the top of the list automatically? If there's no qualitative difference in the results other than being better results (which, in the mind of the user, should be on the top of the list anyway), why call out a difference? > > It seems to me (and just my opinion) that unless there's a difference /other/ than relevance, there's no reason to call them out. Now, if they're "sponsored", "hand-picked" or have some other quality attached, I think it makes sense (and integrating them makes sense as well), but I'm interested in hearing the rationale for calling attention to them. > > Justin > >

25 Mar 2010 - 11:10pm
stewwalker
2010

Thanks everyone for your replies, and for confirming my gut feel that it's better to integrate the Best Bets.

Justin: there's no compelling rationale for calling attention to them. The developers prefer them separate because it's less work for them, but that's another story...

Cheers

Stewart

 

26 Mar 2010 - 4:41pm
morville
2010

There is a middle ground. You can integrate the Best Bets but provide a subtle visual hint to distinguish them. The BBC example in our Search Pattern Library...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/morville/collections/72157623203488602/

...isn't very subtle, but you'll see what I mean. I'm not saying this is best for your context, but it is an option. Cheers!

Peter Morville President, Semantic Studios http://semanticstudios.com/ http://findability.org/

On Mar 22, 2010, at 11:25 PM, stewwalker wrote:

> Hi all > > About to design a search results page for a site search, which will include Best Bets (results that are promoted manually for particular search terms). I'd appreciate your thoughts on whether the Best Bets should be: > > * integrated into the 'organic' search results, or > * shown separately, in the same way that Google and other search engines > show their paid results separately from the paid results. > >
> > The Best Bets are not ads - they are an attempt to provide better results for the user. > > I'm leaning towards integrating them, as I think it places less cognitive load on the user. If the Best Bets are separate, the user has to decide whether to pay attention to the Best Bets or the organic results. But if they're integrated and shown as the first X results, the user just starts at the top of the result set and works their way down. > > Thanks in advance for your input. > > Cheers > > Stewart > >

26 Mar 2010 - 4:50pm
Mathew Sanders
2009

I'd go with incorporating best bets into the organic results but as the first results that are presented.

With any search algorithm you're generally making a trade off between precision vs recall... if a searcher doesn't know what you're looking for it's important to return any relevant result. If a searcher is looking for something specific that they know exists then it helps to have a more focused view of only the relevant results.
Search Patterns (http://www.searchpatterns.org) is a great book that I'd recommend anyone to read :)

On 23 March 2010 16:26, stewwalker <contact@ixda.org> wrote:

Hi all

About to design a search results page for a site search, which will include Best Bets (results that are promoted manually for particular search terms). I'd appreciate your thoughts on whether the Best Bets should be:

* integrated into the 'organic' search results, or
* shown separately, in the same way that Google and other search engines
 show their paid results separately from the paid results.

 

The Best Bets are not ads - they are an attempt to provide better results for the user.

I'm leaning towards integrating them, as I think it places less cognitive load on the user. If the Best Bets are separate, the user has to decide whether to pay attention to the Best Bets or the organic results. But if they're integrated and shown as the first X results, the user just starts at the top of the result set and works their way down.

Thanks in advance for your input.

Cheers

Stewart

(((Please
26 Mar 2010 - 5:00pm
Richard Daddieco
2009

Hi Stew:   What unique factor will distinguish the "best bets" from the rest of the results set?   Will this subset of results be geo targeted?  Higher revenue potential?  Or do they reflect a more a different relevance algorithim, say one that is more tailored for precise search results, rather than say general recall? 

  Reason I ask is that "clusters" in search results must relate to some type of underlying but clearly communicated logic for the user to successfully differentiate each cluster and most importantly make use of each in decision making.  If there is nothing truly unique in how that subset of results were derived, integrate all the results so that the overall design facilitates "scanning."

  If there is something unique--to use your example of paid search ads right alligned in google results--then cluster those results in such a way that the user can infer that they are different.    My $.02...hope it helps.   Best,   Rich

On Mon, Mar 22, 2010 at 11:37 PM, stewwalker <contact@ixda.org> wrote:

Hi all

About to design a search results page for a site search, which will include Best Bets (results that are promoted manually for particular search terms). I'd appreciate your thoughts on whether the Best Bets should be:

* integrated into the 'organic' search results, or
* shown separately, in the same way that Google and other search engines
 show their paid results separately from the paid results.

 

The Best Bets are not ads - they are an attempt to provide better results for the user.

I'm leaning towards integrating them, as I think it places less cognitive load on the user. If the Best Bets are separate, the user has to decide whether to pay attention to the Best Bets or the organic results. But if they're integrated and shown as the first X results, the user just starts at the top of the result set and works their way down.

Thanks in advance for your input.

Cheers

Stewart

(((Please leave
28 Mar 2010 - 9:42am
Ivan Burmistrov
2009

Intergrated. Otherwise users will perceive them as paid results and will not click them.

Syndicate content Get the feed