How Web 1.0 Fails: The Mismatch Between Hyperlinks and Clickstreams

Lingfei Wu, Robert Ackland

The core of the Web is a hyperlink navigation system collaboratively set up by webmasters to help users find desired websites. But does this system really work as expected? We show that the answer seems to be negative: there is a substantial mismatch between hyperlinks and the pathways that users actually take. A closer look at empirical surfing activities reveals the reason of the mismatch: webmasters try to build a global virtual world without geographical or cultural boundaries, but users in fact prefer to navigate within more fragmented, language-based groups of websites. We call this type of behavior "preferential navigation" and find that it is driven by "local" search engines.

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