Search engines adopting Web2.0 -

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Indus Net Technologies


Search engines adopting Web2.0

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Yahoo announced that they are opening up their search results for third party data integration. This will allow third party to contribute to Yahoo search experience and make it more useful for their users. It will be interesting to see how other webmasters use this open search platform to gain popularity by sharing data with Yahoo, while still retaining their competitive edge, by virtue of their database, in their respective area. We can expect to experience a long-tail of innovation in days to come. This will help webmasters, visitors and Yahoo! A perfect win-win-win situation.

On the other hand, Google already have a open platform called Google Co-op, where anyone can create custom search engine. As per Google Co-op,

“Google Co-op is a platform that enables you to customize the web search experience for users of both Google and your own website.”

Google also offer Google Subscribed Links which in their own language they define as:

“Subscribed Links let you create custom search results that users can add to their Google search pages. You can display links to your services for your customers, provide news and status information updated in near-real-time, answer questions, calculate useful quantities, and more”

The challenge

However, both the services that Google offers, has a great deal of focus on promoting Google, Google Search & Google Subscribed Links. Again, they are not directly making any change in the Google Search (at least it has not be publicly explained how it will effect user experience of a normal search).

Therefore, Google Search or Yahoo Search cannot be termed as true “user contributed” or “Web2.0” as described by Tom O’Reilly. People won’t contribute unless they see that their contribution is making a positive impact in the search pattern and it is visible. In the current state both Subscribed Link and Yahoo Open Search will only help if a user wants to use the enhanced engine. Most Internet users will never switch these engines. Even if they are told the benefit of the plug-ins, how are they supposed to select the ones which will help them from a collection of thousands of user contributed plug-in channels? And what happens when new plug-ins come out?

Suggested solution

If search engines want to go the Web2.0 way with user contribution enhancing the overall experience and defining the way search engines display results, they need to bring user contributions to the mainstream. I feel that themed searches are the way to go. Google / Yahoo shall classify a particular user contributed plug-in into a theme. When a visitor wants to search for a business, he may choose a “Finding a business” theme. On a contrary when a visitor wants to learn about the subject he may chose the “Tutorial” theme.

Let us see an example.

We search for a very competitive keyword – “web design”. This is the result we get.

If you see, there are three different intents that the search result satisfies. A person might be searching “web design” because he:

  • Want to find a web design company (blue marker)
  • Want to learn web design (red marker)
  • Get web design resources (green marker)

All three intents are very different. Most people do not type-in their intent in the search box to make it a specific search, because they are not specialists in using search engines. Therefore, a search engine should suggest a possible intent and display results only related to the given theme. The theme model can best work when they are formed based on a collection of user generated plug-ins. Thus user generated content can find its way to the end user in an organized way.

It goes without saying that pulling in the user generated content directly into the main search result has its challenge of weeding out spam. But this seems to be the most logical way as of now. 


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