May 24, 2022

Research Paper: Who Uses Web Search for What? And How?

by Ingmar Weber and Alejandro Jaimes, Yahoo Research

From the Abstract:

We analyze a large query log of 2.3 million anonymous registered users from a web-scale U.S. search engine in order to jointly analyze their on-line behavior in terms of who they might be (demographics), what they search for (query topics), and how they search (session analysis). We examine basic demographics from registration information provided by the users, augmented with U.S. census data, analyze basic session statistics, classify queries into types (navigational,informational, transactional) based on click entropy, classify queries into topic categories, and cluster users based on the queries they issued. We then examine the resulting clusters in terms of demographics and search behavior. Our analysis of the data suggests that there are important differences in search behavior across di erent demographic groups in terms of the topics they search for, and how they search (e.g., white conservatives are those likely to have voted republican, mostly white males, who search for business, home, and gardening related topics; Baby Boomers tend to be primarily interested in Finance and a large fraction of their sessions consist of simple navigational queries related to online banking, etc.). Finally, we examine regional search di erences, which seem to correlate with di erences in local industries (e.g., gambling related queries are highest in Las Vegas and lowest in Salt Lake City; searches related to actors are about three times higher in L.A. than in any other region).

Direct to the Complete Paper

Presented at the Fourth ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.