Trends in Searching for Commerce Related Information on Web Search Engines

By Spink, Amanda; Jansen, Bernard J. | Journal of Electronic Commerce Research, May 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

Trends in Searching for Commerce Related Information on Web Search Engines


Spink, Amanda, Jansen, Bernard J., Journal of Electronic Commerce Research


ABSTRACT

According to the Pew Web Internet and American Life Project (Raine, 2005) search engine use is edging towards overtaking email usage as the primary Internet application for many users. Accessing commerce related information on the Web is becoming an everyday activity for many people in the digital age. The level of commerce related Web searching is a major subject of interest, particularly in the United States. Web queries are therefore an important element of commerce and the growth of e-commerce and purchasing products or services over the Web. Web queries are a primary means for translating people's product, service and information needs. This paper provides results from studies analyzing Web search logs to determine the level of commerce related searches on commercial Web search engines from 1997 to 2005. Within commerce, we include business, e-commerce, travel, employment or economic related Web queries. Results show that commerce related queries have increased as a proportion of all Web queries since 1997 and currently represented more than 30% of Web queries. Commerce related searching continues to be the major topic of search on commercial Web search engines. The commerce related terminology on Web is incredibly various and often difficult for the average user to predict with total accuracy. The implications of the findings and further research are discussed.

Keywords: e-commerce, web search engines

1. Introduction

E-commerce is a growing force in the world economy and the Web is becoming a major source of business products, Web services and information for many people worldwide (Chen, Chen and Shao, 2003; Nah and Davis, 2002; Zwass, 2000). Better Web search tools are important for the development of online business and e-commerce, as people use search engines to find commerce information on the Web. Many shopping and business Web sites provide search engines on their Web sites. Apart from entering commerce related URL, many users interact with a Web search engines, such as MSN, Yahoo! or Google.

Web searching is now a daily activity for many people. Web traffic has increased exponentially as people are using Web search engines as a major tool to dig their way through Web-based information. From the broad perspective, large-scale, quantitative or qualitative studies have explored how users' search the Web (Spink and Jansen, 2004). To support information behaviors, we are seeing the development of a new generation of Web tools, such as Web meta-search engines, to help users persist in electronic information behavior and help people resolve their information problems. Studies show that in general most Web queries are short, without much refinement or modification, and are simple in structure with few words (Spink and Jansen, 2004). Few queries incorporate advance search techniques, and when such techniques are used many mistakes result. Frequently, people retrieve a large number of Web sites, but view few result pages and tend not to browse beyond the first or second results pages (Spink and Jansen, 2004). Overall, a small number of terms are used with high frequency and many terms are used once. Web queries are very rich in subject diversity and some unique.

In addition, the Web has become a major source for all kinds of commerce related information, including business, e-commerce, travel, employment and economics. Since the inception of commerce related information on the Web, and easy and relatively less costly access to Web services, customers are using the Web has become a transaction medium for e-commerce purchases and commerce related information (Zwass, 2000). Web searching services are now everyday tools for providing commerce related information. Web search engine use is edging towards email usage as the primary Internet application (Raine, 2005).

In the midst of a growing Web, what proportion of Web queries are commerce or related? Has the increase in commerce related Website content led to an increase in commerce related queries on Web search engines? …

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