The web is making people picky and impatient, a US study has found.
Getting a high ranking on a search engine is crucial
Researchers from the Penn State School of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) found that people are getting frustrated with search engines and making snap judgements about websites.
Typically surfers visit only the first three results from a query, with one in five spending one minute or less on a linked web document.
"People make instantaneous judgements about whether to stay on a site, and if a site doesn't give the right impression users will bypass it," said Dr Jim Jansen, Assistant Professor at IST.
Dr Jansen and his co-author Professor Amanda Spink analysed more than 450,000 web queries submitted to the AlltheWeb.com search engine in a 24-hour period.
Niche search engines that focus on a narrow topic or search engines that cluster results by finding similarities and grouping them may be consumers' best bet for improving relevancy
More than half of users checked out only one result and more than 80% stopped after looking at three results.
It will make sobering reading for businesses using search engines to market themselves.
The findings illustrate the importance of having a good ranking on a web search engine.
Site developers must be crystal clear about what their website is about if they want to attract surfers, said Dr Jansen.
Niche search engines
The research also found that half of all users entered only one query and over half of those viewed just one page of results.
An additional 19% went on the second page but fewer than 10% bothered with a third page.
It suggests that surfers are focused on what they want to find.
"As good as search engines are there is room for improvement," said Dr Jansen.
"Niche search engines that focus on a narrow topic or search engines that cluster results by finding similarities and grouping them may be consumers' best bet for improving relevancy," he said.