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A Novel Traffic Analysis for Identifying Search Fields in the Long Tail of Web Sites

Forman, George; Kirshenbaum, Evan; Rajaram, Shyamsundar
HP Laboratories


Keyword(s): web data mining, clickstream analysis, machine learning classification, active learning

Abstract: Using a clickstream sample of 2 billion URLs from many thousand volunteer Web users, we wish to analyze typical usage of keyword searches across the Web. In order to do this, we need to be able to determine whether a given URL represents a keyword search and, if so, which field contains the query. Although it is easy to recognize 'q' as the query field in '', we must do this automatically for the long tail of diverse websites. This problem is the focus of this paper. Since the names, types and number of fields differ across sites, this does not conform to traditional text classification or to multi-class problem formulations. The problem also exhibits highly non- uniform importance across websites, since traffic follows a Zipf distribution. We developed a solution based on manually identifying the query fields on the most popular sites, followed by an adaptation of machine learning for the rest. It involves an interesting case-instances structure: labeling each website case usually involves selecting at most one of the field instances as positive, based on seeing sample field values. This problem structure and soft constraint - which we believe has broader applicability - can be used to greatly reduce the manual labeling effort. We employed active learning and judicious GUI presentation to efficiently train a classifier with accuracy estimated at 96%, beating several baseline alternatives.

9 Pages

Additional Publication Information: To be published and presented at the 19th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW 2010). Raleigh, NC. April 26-30. 2010.

External Posting Date: February 21, 2010 [Fulltext]. Approved for External Publication
Internal Posting Date: February 21, 2010 [Fulltext]

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