Understanding the relationship between searchers' queries and information goals

Douglas Downey, Susan Dumais, Dan Liebling, and Eric Horvitz

Abstract

We describe results from Web search log studies aimed at elucidating user behaviors associated with queries and destination URLs that appear with different frequencies. We note the diversity of information goals that searchers have and the differing ways that goals are specified. We examine rare and common information goals that are specified using rare or common queries. We identify several significant differences in user behavior depending on the rarity of the query and the destination URL. We find that searchers are more likely to be successful when the frequencies of the query and destination URL are similar. We also establish that the behavioral differences observed for queries and goals of varying rarity persist even after accounting for potential confounding variables, including query length, search engine ranking, session duration, and task difficulty. Finally, using an information-theoretic measure of search difficulty, we show that the benefits obtained by search and navigation actions depend on the frequency of the information goal.

Details

Publication typeInproceedings
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc.
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