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Readability and word complexity of SERPs snippets and web pages on children’s search queries: Google vs Bing

Dania Bilal (School of Information Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)
Li-Min Huang (School of Information Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 1 March 2019

Issue publication date: 10 May 2019

2588

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the readability and level of word complexity of search engine results pages (SERPs) snippets and associated web pages between Google and Bing.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors employed the Readability Test Tool to analyze the readability and word complexity of 3,000 SERPs snippets and 3,000 associated pages in Google and Bing retrieved on 150 search queries issued by middle school children.

Findings

A significant difference was found in the readability of SERPs snippets and associated web pages between Google and Bing. A significant difference was also observed in the number of complex words in snippets between the two engines but not in associated web pages. At the engine level, the readability of Google and Bing snippets was significantly higher than associated web pages. The readability of Google SERPs snippets was at a much higher level than those of Bing. The readability of snippets in both engines mismatched with the reading comprehension of children in grades 6–8.

Research limitations/implications

The data corpus may be small. Analysis relied on quantitative measures.

Practical implications

Practitioners and other mediators should mitigate the readability issue in SERPs snippets. Researchers should consider text readability and word complexity simultaneously with other factors to obtain the nuanced understanding of young users’ web information behaviors. Additional theoretical and methodological implications are discussed.

Originality/value

This study measured the readability and the level of word complexity embedded in SERPs snippets and compared them to respective web pages in Google and Bing. Findings provide further evidence of the readability issue of SERPs snippets and the need to solve this issue through system design improvements.

Keywords

Citation

Bilal, D. and Huang, L.-M. (2019), "Readability and word complexity of SERPs snippets and web pages on children’s search queries: Google vs Bing", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 71 No. 2, pp. 241-259. https://doi.org/10.1108/AJIM-05-2018-0124

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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