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Effects of Diacritics on Web Search Engines Performance

Effects of Diacritics on Web Search Engines’ Performance for Retrieval of Yoruba Documents

This paper aims to find out the possible effect of the use or nonuse of diacritics in Yoruba search queries on the performance of major search engines, AOL, Bing, Google and Yahoo!, in retrieving documents. 30 Yoruba queries created from the most searched keywords from Nigeria on Google search logs were submitted to the search engines. The search queries were posed to the search engines without diacritics and then with diacritics. All of the search engines retrieved more sites in response to the queries without diacritics. Also, they all retrieved more precise results for queries without diacritics. The search engines also answered more queries without diacritics. There was no significant difference in the precision values of any two of the four search engines for diacritized and undiacritized queries. There was a significant difference in the effectiveness of AOL and Yahoo when diacritics were applied and when they were not applied. The findings of the study indicate that the search engines do not find a relationship between the diacritized Yoruba words and the undiacritized versions. Therefore, there is a need for search engines to add normalization steps to pre-process Yoruba queries and indexes. This study concentrates on a problem with search engines that has not been previously investigated.

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