An analysis of Web searching by European users

Bernard J. Jansen, Amanda Spink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


The Web has become a worldwide source of information and a mainstream business tool. It is changing the way people conduct the daily business of their lives. As these changes are occurring, we need to understand what Web searching trends are emerging within the various global regions. What are the regional differences and trends in Web searching, if any? What is the effectiveness of Web search engines as providers of information? As part of a body of research studying these questions, we have analyzed two data sets collected from queries by mainly European users submitted to on 6 February 2001 and 28 May 2002. is a major and highly rated European search engine. Each data set contains approximately a million queries submitted by over 200,000 users and spans a 24-h period. This longitudinal benchmark study shows that European Web searching is evolving in certain directions. There was some decline in query length, with extremely simple queries. European search topics are broadening, with a notable percentage decline in sexual and pornographic searching. The majority of Web searchers view fewer than five Web documents, spending only seconds on a Web document. Approximately 50% of the Web documents viewed by these European users were topically relevant. We discuss the implications for Web information systems and information content providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-381
Number of pages21
JournalInformation Processing and Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Media Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Library and Information Sciences


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