The effect of user intent on the stability of search engine results



Previous work has established that search engine queries can be classified according to the intent of the searcher (i.e., why is the user searching, what specifically do they intend to do). In this article, we describe an experiment in which four sets of queries, each set representing a different user intent, are repeatedly submitted to three search engines over a period of 60 days. Using a variety of measurements, we describe the overall stability of the search engine results recorded for each group. Our findings suggest that search engine results for informational queries are significantly more stable than the results obtained using transactional, navigational, or commercial queries.