An analysis of web searching by European users

Jansen, Bernard J. & Spink, Amanda H. (2005) An analysis of web searching by European users. Information Processing and Management, 41(2), pp. 361-381.

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The Web has become a worldwide source of information and a mainstream business tool. It is changing the way people conduct the daily business of their lives. As these changes are occurring, we need to understand what Web searching trends are emerging within the various global regions. What are the regional differences and trends in Web searching, if any? What is the effectiveness of Web search engines as providers of information? As part of a body of research studying these questions, we have analyzed two data sets collected from queries by mainly European users submitted to on 6 February 2001 and 28 May 2002. is a major and highly rated European search engine. Each data set contains approximately a million queries submitted by over 200,000 users and spans a 24-hour period. This longitudinal benchmark study shows that European Web searching is evolving in certain directions. There was some decline in query length, with extremely simple queries. European search topics are broadening, with a notable percentage decline in sexual and pornographic searching. The majority of Web searchers view fewer than five Web documents, spending only seconds on a Web document. Approximately 50% of the Web documents viewed by these European users were topically relevant. We discuss the implications for Web information systems and information content providers.

Impact and interest:

108 citations in Scopus
69 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 4853
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: information retrieval, web searching, session duration, query language, search engine evaluation
DOI: 10.1016/S0306-4573(03)00067-0
ISSN: 0306-4573
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES (080000) > LIBRARY AND INFORMATION STUDIES (080700) > Information Retrieval and Web Search (080704)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2005 Elsevier
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Deposited On: 24 Aug 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:19

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