Does topic metadata help with web search?

Hawking, D and Zobel, J 2007, 'Does topic metadata help with web search?', Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, vol. 58, pp. 613-628.

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Does topic metadata help with web search?
Author(s) Hawking, D
Zobel, J
Year 2007
Journal name Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Volume number 58
Start page 613
End page 628
Total pages 16
Publisher John Wiley and Sons
Abstract It has been claimed that topic metadata can be used to improve the accuracy of text searches. Here, we test this claim by examining the contribution of metadata to effective searching within Web sites published by a university with a strong commitment to and substantial investment in metadata. The authors use four sets of queries, a total of 463, extracted from the university's official query logs and from the university's site map. The results are clear: The available metadata is of little value in ranking answers to those queries. A follow-up experiment with the Web sites published in a particular government jurisdiction confirms that this conclusion is not specific to the particular university. Examination of the metadata present at the university reveals that, in addition to implementation deficiencies, there are inherent problems in trying to use subject and description metadata to enhance the searchability of Web sites. Our experiments show that link anchor text, which can be regarded as metadata created by others, is much more effective in identifying best answers to queries than other textual evidence. Furthermore, query-independent evidence such as link counts and uniform resource locator (URL) length, unlike subject and description metadata, can substantially improve baseline performance.
Subject Information Retrieval and Web Search
Keyword(s) problem solving
query languages
resource allocation
search engines
World Wide Web
government jurisdiction
query logs
text searches
uniform resource locator (URL)
DOI - identifier 10.1002/asi.20548
ISSN 1532-2882
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 11 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 12 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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