A method to assess search engine results

Judit Bar-Ilan, Mark Levene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The aim of this paper is to develop a methodology for assessing search results retrieved from different sources. This is a two phase method, where in the first stage users select and rank the ten best search results from a randomly ordered set. In the second stage they are asked to choose the best pre-ranked result from a set of possibilities. This two-stage method allows users to consider each search result separately (in the first stage) and to express their views on the rankings as a whole, as they were retrieved by the search provider. The method was tested in a user study that compared different country-specific search results of Google and Live Search (now Bing). The users were Israelis and the search results came from six sources: Google Israel, Google.com, Google UK, Live Search Israel, Live Search US and Live Search UK. The users evaluated the results of nine pre-selected queries, created their own preferred ranking and picked the best ranking from the six sources. The results indicate that the group of users in this study preferred their local Google interface, i.e. Google succeeded in its country-specific customisation of search results. Live Search was much less successful in this aspect. Search engines are highly dynamic, thus the findings of the case study have to be viewed cautiously. The main contribution of the paper is a two-phase methodology for comparing and evaluating search results from different sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)854-868
Number of pages15
JournalOnline Information Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - 29 Nov 2011


  • Country-specific results
  • Information retrieval
  • Information searches
  • Search engines
  • User assessment
  • User interfaces


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