Not just information: Who searches for what on the search engine Google?



This paper reports on a transaction log analysis of the type and topic of search queries entered into the search engine Google (Australia). Two aspects, in particular, set this apart from previous studies: the sampling and analysis take account of the distribution of search queries, and lifestyle information of the searcher was matched with each search query. A surprising finding was that there was no observed statistically significant difference in search type or topics for different segments of the online population. It was found that queries about popular culture and Ecommerce accounted for almost half of all search engine queries and that half of the queries were entered with a particular Website in mind. The findings of this study also suggest that the Internet search engine is not only an interface to information or a shortcut to Websites, it is equally a site of leisure. This study has implications for the design and evaluation of search engines as well as our understanding of search engine use.