Search results have changed drastically over past decade. Thanks to endless efforts by big search giants like Google, Yahoo and Bing. They are always on their toes and try to come up with innovative methods to curb spam and content farms to display quality links in the search results. Though the algorithms for page ranking have changed over period of time, the core product still remains the same. All we get is the links to the answers we are looking for and not the actual answers.
Last weekend we were planning to visit Isle of Wight and we were searching for information about how to reach the place, how far is the place, hotels in the area, famous tourist destinations and so on. We had to do a separate search for each requirement and ended up spending hours to get what we were looking for. How about grouping the results into different category like maps, places to visit, hotels? So if we are searching for some celebrity or a tourist destination or event, then the web should be smart enough to group the information into valid categories instead of just displaying links in four basic categories (News, Images, videos and others).
Yahoo Accordion Search box is the closest to our requirement. They have come up with really brilliant way to display the search results if it is a known entity. Search for a celebrity will have link to official website, upcoming events, images, twitter or facebook link and so on. When you are searching for news, the same search box will have tabs like images, videos, stories and so on. A trending topic also comes up with slide show in the Accordion box. It really enhances the user experience when you are searching on web. Not just relevant information but the grouping of information does play an important role to satisfy the user.
Often while reading articles online we stumble across some terms or words which we are not aware of or are curious to know more about. So we end up opening a new tab and google/bing it to find the information about the same. But what we get back is list of links to the sites which may or may not have the relevant information. What I would have ideally wanted here is straight away the meaning or an excerpt about the information I am looking for. Yahoo’s Infinite browse has come up with this feature which allows you to highlight any terms in the article which will pop up search results for that term without you having to open a new tab or window.
These are some of the enriched user experience that can completely revolutionise the search in near future. But are these innovative design to display results going to help the cause? They will definitely, but up to an extent. At the end of the day, what matters most is the relevant information or rather answers to our questions asked. Pages are indexed based on limited meta information for “Keywords”, “Description” and “Author”. With this limited meta information it is difficult to obtain a relationship among the web contents and extract information in a customised way, specific to one’s need.
This is where Semantic Web comes into picture. Its a completely new way of storing information on web which implants the necessary intelligence to the web contents. It gives more emphasis to relationships and properties of things rather than just depending on plain links. Machine readable metadata about pages and their relationship enables the web spiders to access information more intelligently. The term Semantic Web was coined by Tim Berners-Lee and still it is in infancy stage. Artificial Intelligence (AI) definitely holds key to the future of search on web.
Technology has really evolved with time and is growing at really faster rate. Best part about it being, it is user centric and try to cater user needs and achieve higher degree of customer satisfaction.