How do Germany’s Internet Users seach the Web? – A User-Focused Study of Search Behavior and Satisfaction

Annegret M. Gross


The internet has developed into the number one port for communication and information. With the millions of websites available, search engines play a vital role in filtering information online. Over time, both search engines and technical equipment have been changing: web-enabled devices have been getting smaller, new search engines were launched, new search featuresadded, and the presentation of the search resultshas undergone modifications. Users have been changing their search habits, too, they have been getting more experienced in searching the web. Analytical search engine studies, e.g. logfile analyses,are numerous. User-focused studies of search engine behavior and user satisfaction, on the other hand, are still rare. However, certain scenarios, such as exploratorysearches, and the users’ subjective satisfaction may not be captured in those analyses. Nonetheless, the users’ subjective opinions and skills eventually decide upon the achieved search performance and the success of a search engine.The last user-focused search engine studies in Germany are from more than a decade ago. This study investigates user search engine behavior and satisfaction from the perspective of internet users in Germany. An survey was conductedto learn about search engine usage frequency, preferred search engines, and priorities for search engine selection, and to assess specificsearch habits, such aspreferred search query language, customization of the search engine language settings, and the necessity for repetitive searches and query rephrasing as perceived by the users. The survey also evaluated the users’ satisfaction with the search results in general, the search results on the first page, as well as the results retrieved with German versus English search queries. Where possible, the paper compares the findings with theuser-focused studies from 2003 and 2005.


Keywords:search engines, user behavior, search satisfaction, information retrieval, Germany

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