Jakob Nielsen Discusses the Future of the SERP

Jul 17, 2007 • 9:29 am | comments (3) by twitter | Filed Under Other Search Topics

Gord Hotchkiss blogged about an amazing interview with usability expert Jakob Nielsen on the future of the search results. A discussion ensued on Cre8asite Forums about the interview, since Nielsen brings up a lot of really interesting points:

  • He says that results may not be computed by the number of links in the future so sites like Wikipedia may no longer be in the forefront.
  • He proposes changing the search results to more two-dimensional layouts.
  • He believes that personalization is impossible since people may want different results depending on the time of day.
  • Display ads may cause "banner blindness" which means that users may disregard other multimedia presented on the page.

Bill Slawski disagrees with much of what Nielsen says. For one, he believes that the search results have changed drastically within 3 years, whereas Nielsen believes that they haven't. He also believes that Wikipedia is useful as a starting point in conducting research -- and I'd agree with that. Wikipedia links are often relevant to the typical user.

The interview is very comprehensive but should definitely be read, and forum discussion continues at Cre8asite Forums.

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07/17/2007 02:39 pm

Very interesting interview, especially since Nielsen is not expressing much optimism about the improvements to the search in the near future. One thing that I wish was part of the discussion, though, is a potential shift of the search results paradigm. I don't mean the layout of results, nor better relevancy, but rather a different way of answering the user's query. At SenseBot, we provide a summary of the top relevant search results - kind of a digest on the query topic. This is in contrast to the current model where you still have to go to each individual source for the content. You can try it at www.sensebot.net.

Michael Martinez

07/17/2007 04:35 pm

"Wikipedia links are often relevant to the typical user." So are made-for-advertising page links. Should we want to see more MFAs topping out the search results? Wikipedia is still a very inaccurate resource that is often used by unscrupulous people to press their own agendas, agendas which in many cases pass "editorial review" because the promulgators "participate in the community". When people search for information, accuracy and authority should be given more weight than popularity. If the algorithm cannot compute accuracy and authority then the worst possible thing it can do is compensate by looking at popularity.


07/18/2007 12:59 pm

I agree with the statement that personalizing search does not work due to the changing needs of people thru out the day. On my site http://omadsense.com my reports show that on average people visit certian section more around the 10 am to 1pm afternoon time [ so the bulk of traffic shows me that these people have others places to visit during other times.

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