Giving Searchers Control of Search Engine Indexing

Have you ever wondered if search results would change if you were behind the control of the wheel of a search engine? Would keywords matter to you? Would your index of sites look and perform differently?

Believe it or not, this is the subject of  various research. I wrote about it for Search Engine Land, in today’s column, called How Human Factors May Affect Information Indexing And Retrieval.

Here are some parts of the article:

If you were to ask a search engine marketer what their main goal is for their type of work, they may tell you, “We want our clients’ web site to come up first in search results.”

To make their days more challenging, they may monitor popular keywords, create landing pages which are tightly focused on one topic, and study search patterns to see where they can make changes to their internet marketing strategies.

When you ask a user experience web designer what their prime objective might be, they may explain they want their web pages to convert inbound traffic (likely from search engines) to the completion of a goal task such as purchasing, signing up for something, or getting sales leads.

Ask a person who is not a marketer or web designer what their main wish for information seeking or online ordering is and they could tell you they want their minds read so that their search results offer instant, perfect choices.

and

I wondered…does this mean that search results are skewed by what it can find and if there is nothing to find, there is no “knowledge” to share? It doesn’t mean that information doesn’t exist. It’s just not on the web.

When we approach a search engine for information, what we’re getting back are hundreds of pages with content that may come close to what you want because somebody put it there to be found.

The more difficult your query is, the more likely the sites you get back are abstract, mismatched or completely unrelated.

and

When you read and highlight text in a book, you’re not highlighting keywords because there are 20 of the same one on a page. But this is what search engines do behind the scenes. They count the number of times a word appears on a page. People “count” the overall content as important or not.

With social search input adding to the search results mixture, it’s next to impossible to do any form of internet marketing and site optimization without also using user behavior data.

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