Newslet #2 – Google, I want to search WITH you!

No one seems to be raving about the new Personalized Google Search now on trial in the Google Lab. Perhaps if Google and the searcher could work more as an intelligent search team, the search result would be much better. Let’s explore how that might work.

Most search engines try to produce an answer that the human searcher will find relevant. Ideally they attempt to do this keyword search in a single operation. Even with Advanced Search, most search engines require you to specify a number of parameters or filters. Then the search engine produces a single page of results that hopefully satisfy the searcher.

Google now has expanded this notion in its Personalized Search by requiring you to create a Profile before the search. You then have a slider bar, which you can set anywhere from No personalization to Maximum personalization. As you move the slider, you can see how the search results change. Although this increases the complexity of the information you give to Google, the Search still works the same way. Step 1 – you specify your search. Step 2 – Google gives you the answers.

Most of the search engines work the same way. You ask your question: the SE responds. Of course, there is an acknowledgement that you may not get it right straight away. So some SE’s try to give you some additional information to help you loop around again. One very popular one, Teoma, has been giving you suggestions on how you might refine your search and a list of additional resources. A new kid on the block, MooterSearch, shows you a list of clusters for your keyword phrase and you then open up one of the clusters.

However it’s still like a tennis match. You lob the ball, and the SE lobs it back. It’s sometimes difficult to remember quite how you got to the final answer. Hopefully you’re satisfied with it. Normally you will be picking one from a list of references, with some obviously wrong entries in the list. You’re never sure, if you had enough stamina, whether there would have been some additional “good” entries among the Next entries. However life is short!

It’s interesting to compare this with how a librarian helps you when you go into a library. You ask for books on a certain topic. The librarian may well not give you any names of books at that moment. Instead she or he often asks you what exactly you are trying to do. In some cases, there may be an interchange of questions and answers before the librarian and yourself together determine what may be the best book or books.

Perhaps if Google or another search engine tried to work with you like that librarian the results might be better. Let’s call the process, Intelligent Team Search. The aim is to work in a team way with the Search engine. Suppose you had a Control Panel in the lower half of the screen to “drive” the whole process. The Control Panel would allow you to put in some of your own personal parameters, perhaps including regional parameters, your key words, and the type of information you’re looking for. You then click on ‘Go‘. The first time around the SE does not try to serve results but, in a Mooter kind of way, modifies the Control Panel to show some clusters that may be relevant. Like Teoma, it could also add in some ways of refining your search.

You would then click appropriately on the relevant “radio buttons”. This time the SE would deliver back some relevant web pages in the top half of the screen and confirm the current settings in the Control Panel at the bottom of the screen. So you would now “drive” the search process forward for as many loops as it takes. Ideally when the process is finished, you would have say 6 very relevant web pages in the top half of the screen and your Control Panel settings in the lower part of the screen.

This is all much more complicated to describe than it would be to use. Such a process may be the only way to get truly relevant results. So Google, is this a way you want to go? Or must we wait for someone to go with Gooter?

Copyright 2004 – SMM Strategic Marketing Montreal

Newslet #1 ::: Important Title :::

I almost started a topic in the Cre8asite Forums last week with this title. Then a thread got into the subject of DMOZ titles and I realized that this was rapidly developing into an ideal Newslet, in other words a possible SMM Newsletter.

Suppose you’d seen the title of a Forum topic just like that:

::: Important Title :::

Would you have gone to see what was there? As they say, curiosity killed the cat. I’m sure many of us would check it out. But, why was this title so much more important than any other title in the Forums. The truth is that every title is important, and probably more than you instinctively realize.

My own image of titles is the following. Imagine a huge crowd of people milling around trying to get my attention. Some of them are holding up placards. I manage to see a few of these placards and one of them really gets my attention. So I want to go and chat to that particular person. In many situations, the title is not just the thing at the top of the page. It becomes the only thing that is seen. The title is just like that placard. A choice is made among the various titles as to which document or web page will get my attention. If I haven’t got much time to look at the Forum topics, then it’s the title that determines whether I look at a particular topic.

The title is a bit like a slogan for a company. Just reading a list of the names of potential suppliers doesn’t entice me to look at a particular company. But if the company has a slogan that captures the company’s competitive advantage versus its competitors, then I may be more inclined to check out that company more carefully.

Not surprisingly, search engines also seem to attach considerable weight in their search algorithms to the title of a web page. This is very logical. Hopefully the web page creator realized that the title is the place to put the essential information about the page in capsule form. Untitled.> So once more the title is of prime importance.

This is when I ran into the “wall” of the DMOZ (Open Directory Project) policy on Titles. The DMOZ policy is very clearly stated. It can be illustrated by the words DMOZ applies to an example it shows of a Bad Title:
– This is a company’s web site. The title field should contain only the company’s name.
– The title contains descriptive information. Titles should not contain descriptive information about the site (or in this case, the company). Descriptive information goes in the description field.
Even though a more descriptive Title might help users more quickly grasp what the company does, this is forbidden. It would seem that DMOZ is applying an approach that is out-of-step with many other entities in the Internet field.

So what’s your opinion on Titles?

BWrap wrapped: BPWrap unwrapped – Oh Oh Sorry!

Well is my face red! I missed something I’m always advising others to do. I didn’t check that the Blog name was hopefully unique in Google. My middle initial is P so originally I thought of calling it BPWrap. That’s pronounced bee-pee-rap. Then I thought of simplifying it to BWrap, pronounced bee-rap. … and that’s what I went for.

If I had done a Google search, I would have found a number of entries from the Black Women’s Rape Action Project. This London, UK, group seems to be doing some good work and getting some publicity for their efforts. They use the acronym, BWRAP. I wouldn’t want to confuse things by another initiative using the same name. So I’ve gone back to my original idea, for which there is only one other somewhat obscure mention in Google.

BWrap Unwrapped

Welcome to the unwrapping of the BWrap. It’s a very special kind of blog. Like other blogs it’s personal, but it has a particular purpose.

I am getting into blogs somewhat reluctantly. I’m all for protecting the planet and I worried about adding even more bandwidth to the tower of Babel that the Internet represents. However this is a way of killing two birds with one stone. Welcome to Newslets.

Each month, Strategic Marketing Montreal produces a newsletter on some aspect of Internet Marketing Strategy. It takes a current theme and covers all aspects of this within 2000 words or so. The themes usually involve some current event in the Internet world or perhaps some aspect that has arisen in a client project. Of course during a month, many topics come to mind but there is only one newsletter per month.

The BWrap will be used as a “training camp” for such possible topics that arise during the month. Each one will be called a newslet. Remember that word. You heard it here first. It has a similar meaning to other words such as starlet or plantlet. Based on reactions and any comments on each newslet, a single one will be chosen and developed into a full length newsletter. I also may add newsworthy items that strike me from time to time even if these won’t make it to a Newsletter. So if you want to get an advanced reading on what may be coming up in the SMM Newsletters, or even want to influence what appears in the Newsletters, here’s the place to watch.

With this preamble, we declare the BWrap launched and open for comments.