Google Research

Good Abandonment in Mobile and PC Internet Search

32nd Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval, ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), 2 Penn Plaza, Suite 701, New York 10121-0701 (2009), pp. 43-50


Query abandonment by search engine users is generally considered to be a negative signal. In this paper, we explore the concept of good abandonment. We define a good abandonment as an abandoned query for which the user's information need was successfully addressed by the search results page, with no need to click on a result or refine the query. We present an analysis of abandoned internet search queries across two modalities (PC and mobile) in three locales. The goal is to approximate the prevalence of good abandonment, and to identify types of information needs that may lead to good abandonment, across different locales and modalities. Our study has three key findings: First, queries potentially indicating good abandonment make up a significant portion of all abandoned queries. Second, the good abandonment rate from mobile search is significantly higher than that from PC search, across all locales tested. Third, classified by type of information need, the major classes of good abandonment vary dramatically by both locale and modality. Our findings imply that it is a mistake to uniformly consider query abandonment as a negative signal. Further, there is a potential opportunity for search engines to drive additional good abandonment, especially for mobile search users, by improving search features and result snippets.

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