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Analyzing search result counts

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  • Lee Romero
    Hi all - I have a question about what kind of analysis you might have tried with data about the # of search results user queries return (if anything). We have
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 3 12:50 PM
      Hi all - I have a question about what kind of analysis you might have
      tried with data about the # of search results user queries return (if
      anything).

      We have the ability with our search solution to know how many results
      were available for each query executed by a user. The most
      significant (to me) are those searches that return 0 results - you
      want to understand what patterns are in those searches that might
      identify missing content or mistagged content, etc.

      I've been asked for an analysis of the overall data for search result
      counts for searches. As you might know if you read my blog (at least
      when I was publishing regularly - which I hope to start again soon!),
      you'll know that my own bias is that if you're going to bother
      analyzing data, you should do so with the expectation that you would
      act on it and that you would expect to be able (and want to) influence
      what you're measuring. (Otherwise, what's the point in the analysis.)

      I've done some preliminary review of the data we have for this metric
      and I'm a bit stuck in thinking about what actions the insight might
      drive.

      Some examples: I can determine the average number of results a user
      sees. I can determine the median number of results a user sees. I
      can figure out a standard deviation of the numbers. I can chart out
      the data to see if I can find patterns (and I can).

      At the end of the day, though, other than the special case of 0
      results, what sorts of things might be driven by understanding this
      data?

      Let's say your goal was to reduce the median (or the average). One
      way to do that is to reduce content in your search corpus. Is that
      useful? Another way would be to look at it as more of a training
      issue - you just need to convince your users to use more precise
      searches, right (and good luck doing that :-) )!

      Anyway - I'm hoping someone out there has considered this and has some
      insights to share.

      Thanks in advance!
      Lee Romero
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