How are we searching the World Wide Web? A comparison of nine search engine transaction logs

Bernard J. Jansen, Amanda Spink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

512 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Web and especially major Web search engines are essential tools in the quest to locate online information for many people. This paper reports results from research that examines characteristics and changes in Web searching from nine studies of five Web search engines based in the US and Europe. We compare interactions occurring between users and Web search engines from the perspectives of session length, query length, query complexity, and content viewed among the Web search engines. The results of our research shows (1) users are viewing fewer result pages, (2) searchers on US-based Web search engines use more query operators than searchers on European-based search engines, (3) there are statistically significant differences in the use of Boolean operators and result pages viewed, and (4) one cannot necessary apply results from studies of one particular Web search engine to another Web search engine. The wide spread use of Web search engines, employment of simple queries, and decreased viewing of result pages may have resulted from algorithmic enhancements by Web search engine companies. We discuss the implications of the findings for the development of Web search engines and design of online content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-263
Number of pages16
JournalInformation Processing and Management
Volume42
Issue number1 SPEC. ISS
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006

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Keywords

  • Transaction log analysis
  • Web search engines
  • Web searching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Media Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Library and Information Sciences

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