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Searching for salvation: An analysis of U.S. religious searching on the World Wide Web

TitleSearching for salvation: An analysis of U.S. religious searching on the World Wide Web
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsJansen, B, Tapia, A, Spink, A
Date Published2010
Keywordsonline religions, religious related searching, religious searching, web religious searching

The goals of this research were to answer three questions. How predominant is religious searching online? How do people interact withWeb search engines when searching for religious information? How effective are these interactions in locating relevant information? Specifically, referring to a US demographic, we analyzed five data sets from Web search engine, collected between 1997 and 2005, of over a million queries each in order to investigate religious searching on the Web. Results point to four key findings. First, there is no evidence of a decrease in religious Web-searching behaviors. Religious interest is a persistent topic of Web searching. Second, those seeking religious information on the Web are becoming slightly more interactive in their searching. Third, there is no evidence for a move away from mainstream religions toward non-mainstream religions since the majority of the search terms are associated with established religions. Fourth, our work does not support the hypothesis that traditional religious affiliation is associated with lower adoption of or sophistication with technology. These factors point to the Web as a potentially usefully communication medium for a variety of religious organizations.