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Web search query

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Definition Edit

A web search query (also called a search query) is the string of characters that a user enters into a search engine to satisfy his or her information needs.

Overview Edit

Web search queries are distinctive in that they are unstructured and often ambiguous; they vary greatly from standard query languages which are governed by strict syntax rules.

There are four broad categories that cover most web search queries[1]:

  • Informational queries — Queries that cover a broad topic (e.g., Colorado or trucks) for which there may be thousands of relevant results;
  • Navigational queries — Queries that seek a website or web page of a single entity (e.g., YouTube or Delta Airlines);
  • Transactional queries — Queries that reflect the intent of the user to perform a particular action, like purchasing a car or downloading a screen saver;
  • Connectivity queries — Queries that report on the connectivity of the indexed web graph (e.g., Which links point to this URL?, or How many pages are indexed from this domain name?).


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