Do natural language search engines really understand what users want? A comparative study on three natural language search engines and Google
Article publication date: 12 April 2013
Purpose – The main purpose of this research is to determine whether the performance of natural language (NL) search engines in retrieving exact answers to the NL queries differs from that of keyword searching search engines. Design/methodology/approach – A total of 40 natural language queries were posed to Google and three NL search engines: Ask.com, Hakia and Bing. The first results pages were compared in terms of retrieving exact answer documents and whether they were at the top of the retrieved results, and the precision of exact answer and relevant documents. Findings – Ask.com retrieved exact answer document descriptions at the top of the results list in 60 percent of searches, which was better than the other search engines, but the mean value of the number of exact answer top list documents for three NL search engines (20.67) was a little less than Google's (21). There was no significant difference between the precision for Google and three NL search engines in retrieving exact answer documents for NL queries. Practical implications – The results imply that all NL and keyword searching search engines studied in this research mostly employ similar techniques using keywords of the NL queries, which is far from semantic searching and understanding what the user wants in searching with NL queries. Originality/value – The results shed light into the claims of NL search engines regarding semantic searching of NL queries.
Hariri, N. (2013), "Do natural language search engines really understand what users want? A comparative study on three natural language search engines and Google", Online Information Review, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 287-303. https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-12-2011-0210
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