Abstract

Search engine switching describes the voluntarily transition from one Web search engine to another. In this paper we present a study of search engine switching behavior that combines largescale log-based analysis and survey data. We characterize aspects of switching behavior, and develop and evaluate predictive models of switching behavior using features of the active query, the current session, and user search history. Our findings provide insight into the decision-making processes of search engine users and demonstrate the relationship between switching and factors such as dissatisfaction with the quality of the results, the desire for broader topic coverage or verification of encountered information, and user preferences. The findings also reveal sufficient consistency in users’ search behavior prior to engine switching to afford accurate prediction of switching events. Predictive models may be useful for search engines who may want to modify the search experience if they can accurately anticipate a switch.