How To Make Search Engine Results User Centered

Apr 27, 2005 - 6:18 pm 0 by
Filed Under Usability

It's no secret to you all that search engines are racing to see who cn come up with the best, new, innovative technology and still make search results logical, pertinent and "just what you asked for".

The usability industry (a generic term that nobody in the industry likes but are stuck with), has been conversing on the topic of search results - same as you all in the SEO/SEM industry. Here's a bit of one recent talk covered:

Recent Innovations in Search and Other Ways of Finding Information

Panel: Peter Norvig, Google; Mark Fletcher, Ask Jeeves; Udi Manber, A9; Ken Norton, Yahoo!; Jakob Nielsen, NN Group; Rashmi Sinha, Moderator">

as reported in Innovations in Search Results Pages

"# There�s a lack of context around search queries (esp. social context). Information about information (beyond prioritized relevancy) on the search results page could introduce much-needed context for users.

# Consumer needs are increasingly being better met by �vertical� search functionality (products, local, travel, multimedia, personal, etc.). Search results pages are addressing this by surfacing vertical search paths like �book results for�� and �local results for��. This change illustrates a need to move beyond prioritized item lists into different organizational structures (i.e. vertical paths and prioritized relevancy).

# Search queries are becoming more focused on the �long tail� of information. Ask Jeeves has a continually increasing number of unique queries per day. This may mean users are looking for more specific information and would benefit from more contextual information.

# Search engine abuse, search engine optimization efforts, and paid search placements may begin to dilute the relevancy of the first page of search results driving users deeper into result sets."

The last statement is old news to SEO/SEM's of course. And, it goes back to the weakness of SEO/SEM, and that's when the objective of the process is to impress search engines, not the human end user.

But, you knew I'd say that.

I didn't see anything from the article that most of you haven't already figured out, but it's still a kick in the pants to see folks like Jakob Nielsen getting in on the search engines solutions act.

In the not too distant future, could we see a panel at Danny Sullivan's SES conference with Mike Grehan, "Orion" (Dr. Edel Garcia Garcia) and Jakob Nielsen sitting on the same panel?


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