Washington, April 11 : Internet technology experts have shown that searches conducted using Web search engines can be classified into three categories, namely informational, navigational, and transactional.
Jim Jansen, assistant professor in Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology, worked with IST undergraduate Danielle Booth and Amanda Spink, Queensland University of Technology, on the project that led the categorisation of Web searches.
The researchers say that informational searching involves looking for a specific fact or topic, while navigational searching seeks to locate a specific Web site.
Transactional searching looks for information related to buying a particular product or service, they add.
The researchers have revealed that they conducted this research using actual searching data, with the aim of real-time classification.
During the study, more than 1.5 million queries from hundreds of thousands of search engines users were analysed.
The study's results show that about 80 per cent of queries are informational, and about 10 per cent each are for navigational and transactional purposes.
Jansen and his colleagues achieved those results by selecting random samples of records, and analysing query length, the order of the query in the session and the search results.
Their work has even enabled them to develop an algorithm that classified the searches with a 74-per cent accuracy rate.
"Other results have classified comparatively much smaller sets of queries, usually manually. This research aimed to classify queries automatically," Jansen said.
"Our findings have broad implications for search engines and e-commerce if they can classify the user intent of queries in real time. This is why we wanted a computational undemanding algorithm. It proves the 80/20 rule that 80 per cent of the cases can be achieved with these clear-cut methods," Jansen added.
He now to continue this research using a more complex algorithm that will hopefully yield a 90-per cent accuracy rate using similar searching criteria.
The research paper that describes Jansen's study, currently available online, will soon be published in the journal Information Processing and Management.