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Search Engines – what’s missing?

By Dale Reagan | November 16, 2009

We have some great generic search tools and a few engines with specific knowledge domains:

So where are:

I recently tried a search for:

lat 36.17 long -115.14

Google, Yahoo and Bing tried to ‘parse’ the input and failed in recognizing simple keyword indicators. A few weeks later Google provides both sponsored, related links (sites dealing with Geo-location) and actual content (in this case, a weather response for the Geo-location which was not the correct location…)  Using both Google Maps and Bing Maps I get a map of the USA and some suggested, related location links but no match… WolframAlpha immediately provided a location on a map, however the map was not zoomable/adjustable (but there was a link to a Satellite map on Google maps, which, when requested did NOT provide a map point with the provided parameters….)

How can YOU improve the search results?

At this point only the user can improve the above search results by modifying the search parameters to match what a given search engine might be able to handle.  As search engines evolve I expect that they will do a better job of figuring out, “What does the user really want to find?” Note that in November of 2009 Bing is licensing computational search from Wolfram Alpha so I expect new hybrid search tools with expanded, more accurate results any day now. 🙂

Users are seeing (very accurate) local market targeting in search results, i.e. search for “real estate agents” and there is a good chance that the sponsored results (i.e. the ads for local companies) will show up. The search engines can provide this relative level of location accuracy simply by noting your IP address along with your search behaviours, i.e., have you recently used this computer, and if so, what Geo-related searches have you done and from these searches do any provide an indication of your Geo-location interests or possibly, your actual location?  Note that if you use other services provided by the search engine [i.e. email] then that provides another avenue to establish your primary location, and hence, provides the search engine with data to target ‘local’ search results with.

Add a location relevant keyword to your broad search pattern and the number of local responses should increase drastically, i.e.  “savannah real estate agents”.  In general, when looking for goods and services on the Internet I find that I get the most relevant results when I include three items in a search:

  1. a concept term with perhaps a sub-term (i.e. classical guitar instead of just guitar)

  2. a location relevant to the concept OR relevant to my needs

  3. a second location term (state or county, try with abbreviations AND with complete spelling)

  4. try your search on multiple search engines – Google, Yahoo, Bing, WolframAlpha

Topics: Computer Technology, Long Tail Search, Web Technologies | Comments Off on Search Engines – what’s missing?

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