Douglas Downey, Susan Dumais, Dan Liebling, and Eric Horvitz
26 October 2008
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.
Publisher Association for Computing Machinery, Inc.
Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. To copy otherwise, or republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee.