Kaushal Kurapati\’s blog

Thoughts on Search, Technology and Management

Mobile Search User Behavior

Posted by kaushalkurapati on May 7, 2007

Google mobile search user behavior analysis was published in this interesting paper. Some key behavioral findings were as follows:

  • Average number of words per query were roughly same b/w mobile & regular searches: roughly 2.3 words/query.
  • Surprisingly 17% of queries the authors looked at were URLs. The number is much much lower (1-2%) for regular search logs.
  • Top categories: in cellphone based searches, “adult” was the top category (>20% of searches); Entertainment (>10%), Internet & Telecom (>5%), Local Services (5%) and Games (>2%) round out the top-5. The interpretation was that since a cellphone is considered a very private device, people look for more adult content than a computer, which may be used by multiple people.
  • Top categories in PDA-based searches differed: local services (>15%) was the most preferred category due to probably the profile of the user–business users. Entertainment, Computers & Technology, Internet& Telecom, Travel, Adult, and Sports each account for ~5% of queries.
  • Query distribution: the top-1000 queries on cell phone based search accounted for 22% of all queries, whereas it was 6% for regular search. This shows that cell based search has less variety in queries currently.
  • Number of queries/session in mobile was 1.6 whereas it was b/w 2 and 3 in regular search. It takes about a minute for a user to enter a query in mobile search! This fatigue could be the reason for searching less, but being specific (same # words/query in mobile as regular search) at the same time.
  • About 32% of consecutive searches are the same; 29% of consecutive searches are refinements of original query; 14% are spellcheck triggers. So the remaining 25% are not on the same topic. This suggests that mobile search is very focussed and is not exploratory in nature.

Summary: mobile searches roughly have same # of words/query as regular search; number of queries per session is much less than regular search; people often focus their searches and explore less while mobile. It currently takes too long to input search queries, which may be limiting the # of queries/session.

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