Real life, real users, and real needs: A study and analysis of user queries on the Web

Bernard J. Jansen, Amanda Spink, Tefko Saracevic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

882 Citations (Scopus)


We analyzed transaction logs containing 51,473 queries posed by 18,113 users of Excite, a major Internet search service. We provide data on: (i) sessions - changes in queries during a session, number of pages viewed, and use of relevance feedback; (ii) queries - the number of search terms, and the use of logic and modifiers; and (iii) terms - their rank/frequency distribution and the most highly used search terms. We then shift the focus of analysis from the query to the user to gain insight to the characteristics of the Web user. With these characteristics as a basis, we then conducted a failure analysis, identifying trends among user mistakes. We conclude with a summary of findings and a discussion of the implications of these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-227
Number of pages21
JournalInformation Processing and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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