Volume 1, No 2, 2004
A Study of Web Search Trends
Amanda Spink and Bernard J. Jansen
This article provides an overview of recent research conducted from 1997 to 2003 that explored how people search the Web. The article reports selected findings from many research studies conducted by the co-authors of the paper from 1997 to 2003 using large-scale Web query transaction logs provided by commercial Web companies, including Excite, Alta Vista, Ask Jeeves, and AlltheWeb.com. The many studies are also synthesized in the recent book "Web Search: Public Searching of the Web" by Amanda Spink and Bernard J. Jansen (Kluwer Academic Publishers). The researchers examined the topics of Web searches; how users search the Web using terms in queries during search sessions; and the diverse types of searches, including medical, sex, ecommerce, multimedia, etc. information. Key findings include changes in search topics since 1997, including a shift from entertainment to e-commerce queries. Further findings show little change in many aspects of Web searching from 1997-2003, including query and search session length. The studies also show more complex Web search behaviors by a minority of users who conduct multitasking and successive searches.
Keywords: Web searching, Web information retrieval, Web search behavior, Search engines