Can you please tell me your intent? Says Google with Search Options

Tons of news coming on the new Google Search Options release; Google Search options is a “tool belt” that can be used to organize the search results based on ones intent Google says. This is a significant step in a new direction for Google, a direction that seems to be openly admitting a couple of things:

a. “guessing” user’s intent is super-hard
b. relevance is not uni-dimensional anymore (yes, Pagerank only represents only a fraction of it)

Hence let the user control what/how they want to see the information. Looks plain and simple – right? No – there is more.

While the usefulness of this tool is going to be limited for the end-users in “organizing” the search results – there is a significant bit of “learning data” that Google will be able to collect about keyword queries and the related user’s intent with all the billions of click-streams flowing through the Search Options. This is exactly how they beat the first round of “web search” game – and it’s time for the second round, perhaps?

Is this about real-time search?

Many bloggers screaming and shouting that this is all about real-time search (and by definition as answer to twitter search!) – I disagree. While recency (or real-time-ness) is a dimension of the new web search relevance paradigm, it’s not all about that. This fundamental shift in the relevance paradigm is going to force all of us to think about alternative ways to “crawl” and index the web – and it is forcing Google too. The problem we are just beginning to notice with “real-time” search is a problem waiting to happen for a long-time.

Web is full of spam – it takes a bit of learning for any search engine to figure out how to differentiate between spam content and real content – and Google was far ahead of this learning curve with their brilliant feedback systems built into their search results – each time user clicks on a link from the search results, it was counted as a vote of confidence – that coupled with volume – they built an un-beatable asset – world’s largest and finest uni-dimensional relevance database for the web (don’t under-estimate the power of this database – they had billions of these clicks recorded across the web way before Microsoft even started building their search engine). Now with the evolution of new relevance paradigm that includes relevance as we know it and also the new dimensions such as time, location, rich-media and so on, there is a need for more detailed and elaborate feedback system that enables users to express their intent so that it can be captured, processed, understood and applied back to the web – and Google Search Options is just one way of doing that.  

What does this mean? New world of search is in order – perhaps we need a hybrid of “crawl/index” and “subscribe/index” – perhaps HTTP and XMPP should be integrated into a new kind of web servers that can serve and notify of the content at the same time, perhaps search is push instead of pull? What does this mean for SEO? 🙂 I can go on and on and on here – all this indicates one thing for sure – web is still evolving, web still is full of spam (now even real-time – get that! 🙂 and we need a new way to organize web’s information.

Photo: intent by outlier*

On my mind: romantic things to do in new york

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