Today I was searching for the name of a person who is at the Executive level at a small software company. The first two pages were filled with a few web pages related to this person, but many more were filled with web pages related to another person with the same name and talking about some lawsuit that person was engaged in.
Then I thought that there should be a better way to provide searching by people’s name. Here is my idea.
1) First and foremost, the search engine should recognize that the search is about a person’s name.
2) The search engine should have the capability to distinguish two webpages containing the same name but different persons. This is not as easy, but context should help a lot.
3) But more importantly, at the time of presenting the results, each search result should be associated to an image, some kind of gravatar. This would help people searching to distinguish between the search results of one person vs the other. In some cases, just reading the surrounding text should help, but may not always be the case. However, if the search engine could detect which of the two people XYZ are being referred to in the webpage, then even if just the name is used to do the search, the results could still be visually presented indicating which page is about which of the two people (or more).
Now, which large company wants to do this? Google? Yahoo? Bing? Don’t patent your stuff though, because I just made it public. He he he.
Filed under Bing, Google, Yahoo!
I am thinking more about Net Neutrality these days. These are only some of the thoughts like a devil’s advocate and not finalized opinions.
I see two types of proponents of Net Neutrality. Those that don’t want either the content providers to pay nor the consumers to pay additional fee to the ISPs. And, those that don’t want content providers to pay to ISPs, but agree to ISPs providing tiered pricing to consumers. I frankly don’t understand the first category, since I don’t think installing and operating a network is not free and some one has to pay for that work. So, I want to explore if the second type of proponents are correct.
Now, take YouTube for example, which generates a lot of bandwidth requirement due it’s video streaming. It’s free for end users and the service makes money through ads. Any good service can never be free and some one got to pay for it. A different model for YouTube would be to charge the consumers a minimal fee and not have ads at all. However, YouTube wouldn’t want to do this because, they know that it’s possible to make far more money by making the advertisers bid for their ad space than charging a flat-rate to consumers.
Basically, everyone knows it’s usually much more profitable and have higher margins in a B2B model than in a B2C model. So, these very Net Neutrality proponents who justify that the ISPs should make their additional money to operate additional network bandwidth by charging the consumers based on their usage and hence essentially suggesting a B2C model, themselves want to go with a B2C model.
Think about it, Google could have chosen to make search as a subscription based service to consumers and let the various businesses to put their ads in the search results for free instead of making them to bid for their position.
If content providers have the desire to make their content reach the end user without having to pay to the ISPs, even by bandwidth alone and let alone by bidding to that bandwidth, wouldn’t every website have the same desire to reach the consumers through the search engine?
In the above analogy,
Content Provider = Website
ISP = Search Engine
Consumer = Consumer
ISP Subscription = Search Service Subscription (note, the price of ISP need not be same as Search Service price).
If the search service providers (SSPs) don’t want the websites to have a free ride of their precious page-view bandwidth, why would an ISP want content providers to get a free ride of their network bandwidth?
Let me know how the above thinking is flawed or can be reinforced with tweaks.
How can Yahoo! improve it’s search results? Google nailed it down for about a decade by using their so called PageRank algorithm. But because it’s a patented technology, others can’t copy it. However, it’s not just the pagerank that really improved the search results. One other key thing with Google’s approach is to give more importance to the text used to describe the target page by the link text/anchor. This is quite powerful, because, someone who provides ERP application performance tuning services can use a bunch of keywords on every page of the website whether or not that page really is about that topic. But sites that link to any of those pages, will use only a handful of keywords to create the appropriate description for the page.
The very concept of identifying what a page is about from an external reference to the page using a particular description is similar to deriving what a page is about based on the tags used to book mark that page on del.icio.us. So, instead of purely relying on the keywords listed on a page, while crawling and indexing a webpage, Yahoo! can query up the tags associated to that page in del.icio.us repository and combine it to provide extra weight to the keywords used in the tags. One good thing with this approach is, the tag cloud of the page on delicious gives information about what people generally think of that page as. For example, even though tocloud.com provides tag cloud generation tools, when someone sees that page, they think of various other things such as tagcloud, tagging, seo etc. But more weight to tagcloud than to seo because the del.icio.us tag cloud for tocloud.com shows tagcloud tag much bolder than seo tag.
Ofcourse, just like Google has to deal with issues such as link farms, backlinks etc, people may start creating fake accounts and keep tagging their pages with all sorts of keywords to influence the search results. So, there should be some clever algorithms by Yahoo in detecting fake users vs real users who are tagging and filter out any such manipulations.
Now what will live.com do to figure out the true purpose of a website? Those who finds an answer can start the 3rd search engine that can be quite successful.
Google continuously being No 1, and other search engines constantly losing the search engine battle, Yahoo! seems to be trying out a few new things. One I have been seeing for the last few days is to provide links to a few select words which when highlighted will
popup a small inline box (similar to contextual ads) letting the user to click that and get search results. I personally don’t like that. Now, today I see on their homepage the following
link about the most popular puppies which enumerates a list of top 20 most popular puppy breeds. Each of the breed name is a link that takes you to the search results for that breed. I again don’t see why one would want to do a search while reading an article, but the fact that you don’t know that you will be taken to the search results, makes you click it, perhaps with the hope of seeing more details like photos and other, only to be greeted with a link of ads, and web search results (and images).
Whether this technique is useful to the audience or not, it certainly is a good tactic to raise the search volume for Yahoo!