How to Personalize Web Search

When you perform a search on one of the major search engines for a particular query, and when I perform the same search, chances are that we will see the same pages appearing on the search results pages. Then again, we may not. Chances are also good that in the future, the results that each of us sees will be different.

One of the areas that many in academia, and at commercial search engines are exploring is how to personalize web search.

We see that most visibly in the personalized search pages that the major search engines have released. They explain how to receive personalized searches on the following pages:

Google Help Center – Personalizing your search results

My Yahoo! Help

Ask.com – My Stuff

But, they really don’t share too much about the personalization process itself on those pages. And, there’s some personalization of results happening when search results are returned regardless of whether or not a user of a search engine has signed to a personal search page.

I’ve listed a number of papers below that look at user behavior information and how it may be used influence search results. I started with a small seed group of recent papers on personalization, and mined their references for other papers that may help provide a bigger picture of the topic.

The papers go from an early discussion in 1998 on how pagerank can be personalized in “What can you do with a Web in your Pocket?” to collaborative filtering and user search histories and burstiness in search queries and the influence of geographic location to reranking search results based upon user profiles.

User queries are being studied, and an understanding of how different users can be from each other is the topic of at least one of these papers. Personalization based upon where we view search results, and upon how we view them, such as with mobile devices, is also being considered.

It’s pretty clear at this point that search engines see personalization as a means of providing a better experience for their users, and even as a key to providing more relevant results that meet individual users intentions when they make a search.

One of the measures that many site owners and consultants have used to see how visible a site is on the web is through ranking reports of placement for certain queries on the major search engines. That metric will become less and less useful, and that’s probably not a bad result.

A more meaningful measure is the number of visitors who arrive at a site, and interact with what they find there in a meaningful manner – whether it’s to buy something, or to find information, or to become a participant in some activity or become a member of a community.

There are a lot of different ways to personalize web searches, and many of the papers below provide insights to approaches that may lead to search engines that understand some of the differences between the different searchers that use their services. It’s not a complete list, and I’m sure that there are many more papers out on the web that should probably be included in a study on the growing personalization of search. But, I think that it’s a good introduction to the topic.

Papers

1998

What can you do with a Web in your Pocket?
By Sergey Brin, Rajeev Motwani, Lawrence Page, Terry Winograd
Data Engineering Bulletin, 21(2):37–47, 1998.

1999

Web Search Behavior of Internet Experts and Newbies
By Christoph Hölscher & Gerhard Strube
Proc. of WWW ’99, 1999.

2000

What Do Web Users Do? An Empirical Analysis of Web Use (pdf)
By Andy Cockburn and Bruce McKenzie
Int. J. Human-Computer Studies (2000)

SearchPad: Explicit Capture of Search Context to Support Web Search
By Krishna Bharat
Proceedings of WWW ‘00, 493-501.

Agglomerative clustering of a search engine query log (pdf)
By Doug Beeferman and Adam Berger
Proceedings of ACM SIGKDD international conference on Knowledge discovery and data mining, pages 407-416, 2000.

Real Life, Real Users, and Real Needs: A Study and Analysis of User Queries on the Web (pdf)
By Major Bernard J. Jansen, Amanda Spink, and Tefko Saracevic
Information Processing and Management, 36(2):207 { 227, 2000.

2001

Probabilistic Models for Unified Collaborative and Content-Based Recommendation in Sparse-Data Environments (pdf)
By Alexandrin Popescul, Lyle H. Ungar, David M. Pennock and Steve Lawrence
Proceedings of the Seventeenth Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI-2001), to appear, Morgan Kaufmann, San Francisco, 2001.

Capturing knowledge of user preferences: ontologies in recommender systems
By Stuart E. Middleton, David C. De Roure and Nigel R. Shadbolt
Proceedings of the First International Conference on Knowledge Capture, K-CAP 2001

Improving the Effectiveness of Collaborative Filtering on Anonymous Web Usage Data (pdf)
By Bamshad Mobasher, Honghua Dai, Tao Luo, and Miki Nakagawa
Proceedings of Intelligent Techniques for Web Personalization ’01 (2001)

Web Site Personalizers for Mobile Devices (pdf)
By Corin R. Anderson, Pedro Domingos, and Daniel S. Weld
Proceedings of Intelligent Techniques for Web Personalization ’01 (2001)

Automated Query Generation For Embedded Information Retrieval (pdf)
By Vladimir A. Kulyukin
Proceedings of Intelligent Techniques for Web Personalization ’01 (2001)

2002

Discovery and Evaluation of Aggregate Usage Profiles for Web Personalization (pdf)
By Bamshad Mobasher, Honghua Dai, Tao Luo, and Miki Nakagawa
Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery, 6(1):61–82, 2002.

Personalized Search (pdf)
By James Pitkow, Hinrich Schütze, Todd Cass, Rob Cooley, Don Turnbull, Andy Edmonds, Eytan Adar, and Thomas Breuel
Communications of the ACM, 45(9):50–55, 2002.

Topic-Sensitive PageRank
By Taher H. Haveliwala
Proceedings of the Eleventh International World Wide Web Conference, 2002.

Persona: A Contextualized and Personalized Web Search (pdf)
By Francisco Tanudjaja and Lik Mui
Proceedings of the 35th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences – 2002

2003

Coverage, Relevance, and Ranking: The Impact of Query Operators on Web Search Engine Results (pdf)
By Caroline M. Eastman and Bernard J. Jansen
TOIS, Vol. 21(4) (2003) 383–411

Finding Relevant Website Queries
By Brian D. Davison, David G. Deschenes, and David B. Lewanda
Proceedings of the Twelfth Int’l World Wide Web Conf., 2003.

The Compass Filter: Search Engine Result Personalization using Web Communities (pdf)
By Apostolos Kritikopoulos and Martha Sideri
Proceedings of Intelligent Techniques for Web Personalization ’03 (2003)

Stuff I’ve Seen: A System for Personal Information Retrieval and Re-Use (pdf)
By Susan Dumais, Edward Cutrell, JJ Cadiz, Gavin Jancke, Raman Sarin, Daniel C. Robbins
SIGIR’03, July 28 – August 1, 2003, Toronto, Canada.

Scaling Personalized Web Search
By Glen Jeh and Jennifer Widom
WWW2003, May 20-24, 2003, Budapest, Hungary.

An Analytical Comparison of Approaches to Personalizing PageRank (pdf)
By Taher Haveliwala, Sepandar Kamvar and Glen Jeh
Stanford Technical Report, June 2003

2004

The Perfect Search Engine Is Not Enough: A Study of Orienteering Behavior in Directed Search
By Jaime Teevan, Christine Alvarado, Mark S. Ackerman and David R. Karger
CHI 2004, April 24–29, 2004, Vienna, Austria.

Personalizing Search Based on User Search Histories (pdf)
By Mirco Speretta and Susan Gauch
Submitted to CIKM ‘04.

A Community Aware Search Engine (pdf)
By Rodrigo B. Almeida and Virgılio A. F. Almeida
WWW2004, May 17–22, 2004, New York, New York, USA.

Understanding User Goals in Web Search (pdf)
By Daniel E. Rose and Danny Levinson
WWW 2004, May 17–22, 2004, New York, New York, USA.

Identifying Similarities, Periodicities and Bursts for Online Search Queries (pdf)
By Michail Vlachos, Chris Meek, and Zografoula Vagena
Proceedings of ACM SIGMOD conference, pages 131-142, 2004.

A Unified Approach to Personalization Based on Probabilistic Latent Semantic Models of Web Usage and Content (pdf)
By Xin Jin, Yanzan Zhou, and Bamshad Mobasher
AAAI Workshop on Semantic Web Personalization (SWP 2004)

Spying Out Real User Preferences for Metasearch Engine Personalization (pdf)
By Lin Deng, Xiaoyong Chai, Qingzhao Tan, Wilfred Ng, and Dik Lun Lee
Proceedings of the Sixth WebKDD Workshop: Webmining and Web Usage Analysis (WEBKDD ’04)

Web Usage Mining Based on Probabilistic Latent Semantic Analysis (pdf)
By Xin Jin, Yanzan Zhou, Bamshad Mobasher
Proceedings of the Sixth WebKDD Workshop: Webmining and Web Usage Analysis (WEBKDD ’04)

Personalized Web Search For Improving Retrieval Effectiveness (pdf)
By Fang Liu, Clement Yu, Weiyi Meng
IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, VOL. 16, NO. 1, January 2004

PROS: A Personalized Ranking Platform for Web Search (pdf) 2004
By Paul-Alexandru Chirita, Daniel Olmedilla, and Wolfgang Nejdl

Adaptive Web Search Based on User Profile Constructed without Any Effort from Users (pdf)
By Kazunari Sugiyama, Kenji Hatano, and Masatoshi Yoshikawa
WWW2004, May 17–22, 2004, New York, New York, USA.

Personalizing PageRank Based on Domain Profiles
By Filippo Menczer, Mehmet S. Aktas, and Mehmet A. Nacar (June 2004)

Using Hyperlink Features to Personalize Web Search (pdf)
By Mehmet S. Aktas, Mehmet A. Nacar, and Filippo Menczer
Proceedings of the 6th KDD International Workshop on Knowledge Discovery from the Web (WebKDD 2004). To appear as LNCS 3932, Springer

2005

The Re:Search Engine Helping People Return to Information on the Web
By Jaime Teevan
Proceedings of SIGIR ’05 (Doctoral Consortium).

Detecting Dominant Locations from Search Queries (pdf)
By Lee Wang, Chuang Wang, Xing Xie, Josh Forman, Yansheng Lu, Wei-Ying Ma, and Ying Li
SIGIR’05, August 15–19, 2005, Salvador, Brazil.

Web Resource Geographic Location Classification and Detection (pdf)
By Chuang Wang, Xing Xie, Lee Wang, Yansheng Lu, and Wei-Ying Ma
Proceedings of international World Wide Web conference, pages 1138-1139, 2005.

Personalized Ranking of Search Results with Learned User Interest Hierarchies from Bookmarks (pdf)
By Hyoung-rae Kim and Philip K. Chan
Eleventh ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, August 21st, 2005, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Discovery of Significant Usage Patterns from Clusters of Clickstream Data (pdf)
By Lin Lu, Margaret Dunham, and Yu Meng
Eleventh ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, August 21st, 2005, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Communities, Collaboration and Cooperation in Personalized Web Search (pdf)
By Jill Freyne and Barry Smyth
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Intelligent Techniques for Web Personalization (ITWP ’05)

A Fuzzy Hybrid Collaborative Filtering Technique for Web Personalization (pdf)
By Bhushan Shankar Suryavanshi, Nematollaah Shiri, and Sudhir P. Mudur
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Intelligent Techniques for Web Personalization (ITWP ’05)

Beyond the Commons: Investigating the Value of Personalizing Web Search (pdf)
By Jaime Teevan, Susan T. Dumais, and Eric Horvitz
PIA 2005 – Workshop on New Technologies for Personalized Information Access, July 24th and 25th, 2005, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

A Meta Search Engine for User Adaptive Information Retrieval Interfaces for Desktop and Mobile Devices (pdf) Slides
By Ernesto William De Luca and Andreas Nürnberger
PIA 2005 – Workshop on New Technologies for Personalized Information Access, July 24th and 25th, 2005, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Using ODP Metadata to Personalize Search (pdf)
By Paul-Alexandru Chirita, Wolfgang Nejdl, Raluca Paiu, and Christian Kohlschutter
SIGIR 2005 Salvador, Brazil

Personalizing Search via Automated Analysis of Interests and Activities (pdf)
By Jaime Teevan, Susan T. Dumais, and Eric Horvitz
SIGIR ’05, August 15–19, 2005, Salvador, Brazil.

CubeSVD: A Novel Approach to Personalized Web Search (pdf)
By Jian-Tao Sun, Hua-Jun Zeng, Huan Liu, Yuchang Lu, Zheng Chen
WWW 2005, May 10-14, 2005, Chiba, Japan.

Analysis of User Web Traffic with a Focus on Search Activities (pdf)
By Feng Qiu, Zhenyu Liu, Junghoo Cho
Proceedings of the International Workshop on the Web and Databases (WebDB), June 2005.

Automatic Identification of User Goals in Web Search (pdf)
By Uichin Lee, Zhenyu Liu, and Junghoo Cho
Proceedings of the World-Wide Web Conference (WWW), May 2005.

2006

Automatic Identification of User Interest For Personalized Search
By Feng Qiu and Junghoo Cho
WWW 2006, May 23.26, 2006, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Time-Dependent Semantic Similarity Measure of Queries Using Historical Click-Through Data
By Qiankun Zhao, Steven C. H. Hoi, Tie-Yan Liu, Sourav S. Bhowmick, Michael R. Lyu, and Wei-Ying Ma
WWW 2006, May 23.26, 2006, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Improving Personalized Web Search using Result Diversification (pdf) –
By Filip Radlinski and Susan Dumais
SIGIR’06, August 6–11, 2006, Seattle, Washington, USA.

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2 thoughts on “How to Personalize Web Search”

  1. Thaks for such a useful collection of papers on personalized web search.
    I’m doing a project work on personalized web search, your collection will surely help me, please let me know if you come accross any new papers.

    I’m also working on expert systems for thermal power plant monitoring, please let me know if you have any collection of papers on this field as well.

    Thanks again.

  2. Thanks for the valuable information, bcoz i’m doing project on ‘Ontological User Profiles for Web Search Personalization’. I deadly need information for the above said topic. i will be very much thankful if i get it

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