Recently in Search Category

Interview by the Viewzi Folks

During Adaptive Path's MX Conference, the guys from Viewzi were giving folks demos of the site. Viewzi is a new search engine that displays results visually, rather than your typical list of results format.

They recorded demo, as well as questions and feedback we had about the site. The video has finally been posted to their site. Video of my Viewzi interview.

They stopped it before I tell them that it looks more pretty than useful. But other than that it seems to be pretty intact. It's very strange to see yourself on video. Glad to see they finally got it up!

Desiging Search Checklist

*** Originally posted on the Adaptive Path Blog ***

Recently on projects I've found myself designing a number of search results pages. While each project has its own set of requirements and nuances, I think there are a handful of elements that should be included in most all result page interfaces. If you start out with this list, and then tweak as your situation requires, I think you'll end up with a pretty good page.

Here are the items on my checklist, in no particular order:

  • Highlight the query term in the results.

  • Restate the query on the results page.

  • Show the number of results that were found.

  • Include next and previous buttons, as well as links to additional pages, to move through results. These should be smartly linked; no link on previous if you are on the first page and so on.

  • Include a query box so the user can search again.

  • Don't show the URLs of the result pages, unless your audience is techy enough to derive meaning from the URL.

  • Have meaningful page titles and descriptions for each result.

  • The page title should be the link to the result.

  • Allow sorting and refinement tools if appropriate for your users and content.

  • Indicate if a result is not a regular page (e.g., a PDF file).

What items do you have on your checklist?

Classifying Web Search Results

--- Originally published on the Adaptive Path Blog ---

Search is a subject that I've always been interested in. Especially internal or enterprise search, within a site. Not web search like Google or Yahoo!. Sure there's lots of search engine optimization (SEO) or marketing (SEM) tricks you can do to improve your ranking in the web search engines. But that's never really held any fascination for me.

Enterprise search -- now that's fascinating! It's much easier to tune an enterprise search engine to make the results you want float to the top. (Assuming, of course, you have access to your IT department to make the changes you want.) Weighting of metadata is a simple way to do this. Tools like Verity or Vivisimo make categorization, "best bets," and other changes to results lists easy easier to do. Though I have to admit, the librarian in me is very skeptical of the promises that those companies make. I don't trust their auto-classification engines to do a job as good as a person could (or to do it in the time they say it takes). And I firmly believe that having someone to care and feed the classification/taxonomy/vocabulary/whatever-you-want-to-call-it is the best way to get good results.

Recently, I started looking into what is being called "vertical search." It's taking the approaches traditionally used on enterprise search (like classifying results) and applying it to the web at large. Folks like Kosmix and Clusty are leading the charge. This sounds a lot like what Northern Light (remember them?) was doing back in 1999 and 2000. However, unlike Northern Light, who used people to come up with their categories (the blue folders), Kosmix and Clusty are using complex algorithms to determine what the web pages are about. Kosmix, for example, focuses on a subset of the web (e.g., travel, health, politics) and subdivides the results into different categories.

Just like with the enterprise search engines, I'm a bit skeptical about this approach. The classification that they are doing isn't very sophisticated (they use categories like "basic information" or "blogs"), but it is certainly more helpful than a list of thousands of results ala Google results. It will be interesting to see where this goes. A hybrid approach using both algorithms and human-moderated categories seems like it would give the best results. Though I don't know of anyone really taking that kind of two-pronged approach. Do you?

You Never Think About...

So, I was looking at the search queries that have brought users to my site. And I noticed that one of them was ""toe ring" cum." Ahem. Yes. Now, I know I haven't written about that. So, I do a search for it and lo and behold, there on the second page of results is my "About" page:

This is such a great example of context insensitive search gone wrong. Not to mention a lack of disambiguation. And yet, I questioned whether to post about it, since I really don't see the need to reinforce the connection between the pages (though I think as long as I don't link to the About page I'm not doing that. Though there will still be a connection between the phrase and this domain).

But... it's so absurd. I had to share. And now I'm going to go wash my feet.

[EDIT: This post was reprinted from]

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Search category.

Personal minutiae is the previous category.

Semantic Web is the next category.

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