Search engine user behaviour: How can users be guided to quality content?

Lewandowski, Dirk: Search engine user behaviour: How can users be guided to quality content? Information Services & Use 28(2008)3-4, 261-268. DOI: 10.3233/ISU-2008-0583

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The typical behaviour of the Web search engine user is widely known: a user only types in one or a few keywords and expects the search engine to produce relevant results in an instant. Search engines not only adapt to this behaviour. On the contrary, they are often faced with criticism that they themselves created this kind of behaviour. As search engines are trendsetters for the whole information world, it is important to know how they cope with their users’ behaviour. Recent developments show that search engines try to integrate results from different collections into their results lists and to guide their users to the right results. These results should not only be relevant in general, but also be pertinent in the sense of being relevant to the user in his current situation and in accordance to his background.
The article focuses on the problems of guiding the user from his initial query to these results. It shows how the general users are searching and how the intents behind their queries can be used to deliver the right results. It will be shown that search engines try to give some good results for everyone instead of focusing on complete result sets for a specific user type. If the
user wishes, he can follow the paths laid out by the engines to narrow the results to a result set suitable to him.