Posts tagged "search"

A Week in Google: Surviving the Algorithm Change and Updating Chrome OS

How Websites Can Survive the Latest Google Crunch

Late last month, the great Google significantly tweaked its mysterious search algorithms in an attempt to lower the rankings of low-quality, SEO'd-out-the-wazoo content aggregator sites.  

Though the change obviously targets content farms, practically anyone can be negatively affected — even sites that use legitimate optimization methods. So, we asked: What is a quality website? What is quality content? Does your webpage need perfect grammar, diction, punctuation and spelling to qualify as good content? Or, is it the discussions and the subject that matter?

In the end, our own J. Angelo Racoma boiled down surviving Google's algorithm change to three tips: 

  1. Focus on loyalty
  2. Watch your link neighborhood
  3. Write for people

Check these out in full detail here

Google Fudges Up Gmail Accounts, Messages go AWOL

Last weekend, 150,000 Gmail users came face to face with a nightmare to end all nightmares: Their inboxes were wiped clean. No e-mails, no themes, no folders, no labels. Nothing. Said Google:

…a very small number of users started having difficulty accessing their Gmail accounts, and in some cases once they got in, trouble viewing e-mails," a company spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. "This is affecting less than 0.08% of our Gmail user base, and we've already fixed the problem for some individuals. Our engineers are working as quickly as possible and we hope to have everything back to normal soon. We're very sorry for the inconvenience to our customers.

Yes, Gmail is a free service and yes the affected percentage was fairly low, but the crash still doesn't bode well for the company's hopes of becoming a viable competitor in the enterprise space. "Well—what if the cloud fails?" asked one user. "If, ultimately, Google does not make this right in a timely way and I lose the main record of the last seven years of my life …that will forever affect how I view trusting an anonymous server farm somewhere with my critical or even not-so-critical data." 

Chrome OS Updates

Chrome OS version 0.10.156.46 is here, and primary tweaks include better trackpad functionality for Google's pilot programme Cr-48 notebook. Now quality testers can test the user experience with added control settings and sensitivity before Google releases the hardware, which it's been touting since December of last year. 

General updates include:

  • 3G modem activation fixes
  • 3G connection to the carrier fixes
  • Wi-Fi connectivity/Out of the Box fixes
  • Auto update engine and debugging improvements
  • Power optimizations
  • GTalk video/chat optimizations
  • Audio CPU utilization improvements
  • Improved on screen indicators: brightness, network status, update icon

If you own a CR-48 Chrome Notebook, let us know what you think about the updates in the comments below.

DotNetNuke 5.6: Enhanced Workflows, Search, Google Analytics

Open source web content management vendor DotNetNuke (news, site) keeps to pace with the release of v5.6 of its Professional and Enterprise editions that include better search functionality, enhanced Google analytics support and new workflow enhancements. 

While these enhancements are restricted to the two editions mentioned above, it has also introduced a number of new enhancements for the community editions — databse optimization, new configuration management and improved search.

DotNetNuke v5.6, Professional, Enterprise Editions

This is the first upgrade since August when the company shelved the Elite edition and replaced it with the Enterprise Edition.

Elite Edition made its first appearance in September 2009 with two editions: Regular and Premier, both comprised the code from the Professional Edition with added support. The new Enterprise Edition included the Professional Edition plus Elite Support, and a new key feature — content staging.

Now, only a matter of months later both the Professional and Enterprise have been upgraded with a list of new enhancements that contain three principal upgrades. They include:

  • Site Search: Now enabled by a new engine that speeds up the process of locating files and pages across a site. Along with support for Boolean searches, phrase searches and even relevance searches, the engine includes rich query syntax. Its new true web spider can index any site —DotNetNuke or not.
  • Enhanced Analytics Support: Enhanced support for Google analytics includes upgrades to its integration abilities and now enables tracking of sub-domains as a single entity as well as five segmentation rules per page. The enhanced analytics is available in both the Enterprise and Professional Editions.
  • Content Approval Workflow Enhancements: Upgrades to the content approval workflow enables content managers to configure approvals at site, page and module levels, while users who will be impacted by the content changes will be able to view the changes before anything is published.

It also comes with content locking to prevent workflow conflicts as well as business rules that enable workflows with an unlimited number of states or reviews.

Community Edition

But the upgrades are not limited to these two editions. The Community Edition also got some attention and has three major upgrades. They include:

  • Search: Upgraded search includes enhanced indexing, enabling standard core search features to index page names, tag attributes and other metadata
  • Performance enhancements: Optimized database architecture and handling of web analytics tracking codes.
  • Configuration Manager: Offers better access and control over website configuration files without users having to access the files directly.

DotNetNuke is also offering a perpetual license option for existing Professional and Enterprise Editions subscription customers. Current DotNetNuke Corp. subscription customers may purchase a perpetual license to use the DotNetNuke Professional or Enterprise Edition version they are running on their production servers.

Whatever it’s doing, it must be doing it right. The company says that over the past year its annual revenue growth has jumped by 300% and added 1000 new subscribers to its business. Nice for the times we’re living in!

Microsoft Betters Bing with New Design and foursquare

In addition to some sunshine, the next few months are going to see interesting updates from Bing. Microsoft previewed several new features for their search engine at the Search Engine Strategies 2010 Conference in New York this week, highlighting foursquare integration and new design concepts.

Better Looking Bing

The self-proclaimed "decision engine" has always had roots in the visual side of things. For instance, unlike the simple Google interface, Bing results include a list of links for enhancing your search. Dubbed Quick Tabs, the left-side column of links offers drilled-down suggestions based on your initial query. For example, if I search the word 'sheep', in addition to the regular top results, my Quick Tabs will list links for sheep facts, sheep breeds, cute sheep pictures and raising sheep:

bing_search_results.JPG

Bing search results

It looks a bit busy, doesn't it? In order to remedy that, Microsoft is moving the results to the top of the page (we're not sure whether or not they'll be hidden, but it would be nice).

"We have a vision for Bing to serve as a vital assistant to your online decision-making," said Jeff Henshaw, GPM of Bing's user experience team. "In these latest designs, you’ll see a lighter, cleaner presentation of results that highlight key actions that will efficiently guide you toward your goal."

Fun with foursquare 

Microsoft will also be incorporating foursquare's popular location-based data for a real-time experience with Bing Maps.

"The foursquare map app is a powerful combination of the spatial canvas that Bing Maps provides, combined with foursquare’s user reputation service … making it easier to explore any city in the world as if you were a local," Schwartz continued. "It's like an interactive day planner, designed to help find the best things to do in the area."

Additionally, Microsoft plans to involve Bing with everyday activities as well. Recent focus has been on the world of real-time, and partners include big names like Twitter. Microsoft hopes to incorporate much more significant data into the Bing search experience—an effort you can already see being tested. For example, when you search for a publication like New York Times, Bing now gives you both access to specific sections of the destination website, and the most popular shared links from that publication.

Users can expect all of these updates to be rolled out before the weather goes bad again, and our best guess is they're interesting enough to gain the search engine a few more fans.

Zite Goes Beyond RSS: Combines News Aggregation and Social Media

In the world of search and discovery, there aren’t many viable examples that give users the information they didn’t know. For every Pandora, Netflix and Amazon, there is a Google and Facebook. But Worio (site) has other plans.

Zeitgeist

Worio has created Zite, a new site that combines news aggregation with social media. Representing the spirit of the times, Zite generates recommendations based on the content, hashtags and links shared via Twitter and Delicious.

Generated from social media sites, blogs and a combination of methods, the recommended sites are presented to the user in a format that shows them the latest news as well as older items of relevance.

Zite goes beyond your typical RSS feed.

zite_screenshot.jpg

Worio prioritizes information based on conversations and personalization. You can indicate which links you like and what you want more of. You can also combine follow terms or add and delete others.

A Special Invitation to Our Readers

Currently in private beta, Zite invites a limited number of users to test drive. Starting at midnight (PT) tonight, CMSWire readers can use this code to receive direct access into Zite and will not have to be part of the wait list process.

  • Enter your Twitter handle. Zite will create a personalized topic list based on your tweets. 
  • Customize your Follow List. You can add and remove topics and sources (e.g., CNN.com) from your Follow List as well as group them by clicking on Edit and dragging and dropping them together.
  • Find semantically related topics. Uncover a broad range of semantically related topics by clicking on topics in your Follow List or by searching new ones.

Zite's ability to learn from your behavior makes it unique. So go ahead, give Zite a try for yourself. We think you’ll be pleasantly engaged and discover things that you might not have found otherwise.

#SXSW: Search Patterns - Tangible Futures for Discovery

tairs Leading to Nowhere

For those of you that are not familiar with the house it is located in San Jose, CA. For 38 years the owner of the house added on and created room after room, staircase after staircase and doorway after doorway. Some of the stairs led to nowhere and there was never a design or plan for the house.

Now it looks like a very nice house from the outside, and you would never know that the inside was so messed up unless you were to get inside it, but once you are inside the house, it is unorganized and very confusing.

The metaphor really set the stage for the session, as every website needs to have a blueprint, so that when you are looking to organize and manage the content, you are able to do so easily and with the ability to allow your visitors to easily access and find the information that they are looking for.

Search Means Different Things to Different People

Morville then went on to discuss how search is a complex and adaptive system with real properties of emergence, and it is very important to understand that search means different things to different people, and when you are designing your website and search capabilities, you have to account for all of the following instances.

Individuals search in very different ways within a website and there are very unique patterns:

  • Narrow
  • Expansive
  • Thrashing
  • and Pearl Growing.

I found the “thrashing” one very interesting, as individuals search for a couple of words/phrases and modify their search time and time again, while always keeping the first term. Pearl Growing was also very interesting — this is when people find other keywords that help the search and modify their initial search entirely.

This led to his point that you need to think about search in 3 different ways, microscope (detail), telescope (big picture) and kaleidoscope (creativity).

Other key points that were made:

  • Speed is very important
  • The single biggest opportunity for businesses is through search
  • Think about the content and indexing it appropriately, adding metadata
  • Include the Content creators within the search model (metadata)
  • Filtering is an important aspect — especially within eCommerce
  • You need to have excessive attention to detail and get the interfaces right
  • Social plays an important part in search

Even though I am not a techie or search guy, I found this presentation very informative. To read the back channel on Twitter, search for the hashtag #searchpatterns.

 

About the Author

Mike has been part of the “Social Software” revolution for over 10 years, including 5+ years at eBay where he held numerous Community roles - Manager, Product Manager, and International Consultant. His current position as Social Strategist for Ektron.com allows him the ability to share his knowledge with businesses that are looking to integrate Social functionality within their website in order to provide a more pervasive web experience to their audience.

Virtual Moment Rebrands as WebDAM, Focuses on DAM

Maybe it’s because of the growing popularity of SaaS, but Virtual Moment, LLC has announced that it is changing its ‘Doing Business As. . ‘(DBA) name from Spitfire Photo Pro to WebDAM, and said it will concentrate its resources on SaaS digital asset management (DAM).

 

As a completely hosted web-based DAM company, WebDAM offers its flagship product as hosted digital media management with full support — including storage, managing archiving, searching and retrieving functions to enterprises, as well as full collaboration capabilities.

Only two years old, the company said that the name change reflects its decision to concentrate on building the WebDAM brand, as well as a move from digital photo management into fully fledged digital asset management to the exclusion of everything else.

None of their existing customers, which include Stanford University, Inter-American Development Bank, or the Sodexo Corporation, will be affected by the move. New customers will all come in under the new brand and domain name.

They also say that the rebranding will be accompanied by a complete reorganization of resources that will enable development teams to create new products at a faster rate than previously.

What is WebDAM?

Let’s have a quick look at what they are offering. WebDAM is a web-based, hosted digital asset and image management product designed to give users access to web tools that will centralize, manage and distribute image files throughout an enterprise.

At the moment, the company concentrates on five main product areas. These include:

1. Centralized Database

All digital assets will be kept in the same area of the company’s centralized database that will enable users upload or access their assets from any browser and at any time of the day.

2. Online Collaboration Tools

Images and assets can be shared across an enterprise using distribution features that include lightboxes, high-res image download tools and email. Online reporting tools also gives users access to download reports with full tracking and defined access privileges

3. Search

Image retrieval based on automatic meta-tagging, using the companies new image searchtechnology which includes captioning abilities. Images can also be tagged using custom fields specified by company, division or department needs.

4. Brand application

Webcam feature comes with the ability to extend a company’s brand identify across entire image galleries with the help of technicians that ensure the brand is standardized across all your assets.

5. eCommerce

If required, users can also deploy an eCommerce add-on to create an integrated shopping cart directly from your online database. Users can set their own pricing and usage rules and dictate how orders are filled.

WebDAM is designed for organizations of all sizes with pricing based on disk space and user requirements.

Google Exec Says Desktops Irrelevant in Three Years Time

"Go mobile young man" is the cry as a top Googler (site) echoes his bosses sentiment on the smartphone being the way forward.

Search on the Move

The Digital Landscapes conference is an Irish event where emerging technologies are promoted to business and some blue-sky thinking gets writ large by the IT industry's bigwigs. At this year's event were directors from HP, Cisco, Facebook and John Herlihy, Vice President of Global Ad Operations for Google.

He made several interesting comments about mobile services and search during his speech, including the smartphone one grabbing all the headlines, "the desktop is doomed".

Ignoring the fact that most knowledge workers will still be sat at some sort of computer in five, even ten years time — you try writing multi-page documents or wrangling a spreadsheet on anything other than a keyboard and big screen — he made some potentially valid points.

Japan Leads the Way

Herlihy pointed out that more research is now done on phones than on computers in Japan. This may be true, and the eastern nation has indeed whole-heartedly grabbed the smartphone. However, cultural differences see the Japanese working insane hours with grim dedication to their company, on heroic commutes with vastly superior network services. Will westerners really follow that same pattern?

One thing he was spot on about is the need for fast and accurate results. With a mobile there's limited alt-tabbing to something else while you wait for an answer — or the room to display dozens of results. 

So Google's future aims are to sharpen up results to get the information people need first, because if they don't he is convinced that other companies will — and steal Google's market share.

You can find more detail, including video on the Digital Landscapes event from Ireland's own Silicon Republic site.

Search Patterns - New from O'Reilly - Design for Discovery

As we all drown in today's unparalleled access to mostly disorganized information, the holy grail for many has become to perfect search. O'Reilly Media (site) has released a new book to help those following this path.

Search Patterns

The book Search Patterns is designed to help the reader:

  • Discover a search pattern language that embraces user psychology and behavior, information architecture, interaction design and emerging technology
  • Boost enterprise efficiency and e-commerce sales
  • Enable mobile users to achieve goals, complete tasks and find what they need
  • Drive design innovation for search interfaces and applications

Expected pattern design issues such as auto-complete, best first and faceted navigation are included, but the book aims to move past these concepts as well and get you thinking about "the future of discovery."

The Authors

Search Patterns was written by Peter Morville, one of the fathers of the field of Information Architecture, and Jeffery Callender, Vice President and Design Director of Q LTD.

Together, these authors hope to help the search and discovery industry advance faster. "Our understanding of what does and doesn't work is advancing rapidly," says Morville. "Yet we're often forced to use clumsy search interfaces that should never have escaped the 1990s. Users are invited to speak Boolean and then wait patiently for irrelevant results."

Morville states that this problem exists because the expertise required to build truly great search crosses multiple disciplines, and the best design patterns are only the best for their particular context. "Our book," he says, "aims to bridge these gaps and help design teams to make search better through incremental improvement and radical innovation."

Bitrix's D.I.G. Engine Offers Cross-Content Search Technology

Enterprise search is a boom area and Bitrix (site) offers its new solution for finding data spread throughout an enterprise's online assets.

Can You D.I.G. Enterprise Search?

The bigger the corporation, the harder it can be to find something. So we have seen the rise of federated enterprise search, endless metadata, semantic search and many specialist solutions. Bitrix has a fix for the rapid rise in the amount of data being stored on company intranets and websites with its D.I.G. Engine, designed to hunt down data stored in online repositories.

Automated indexing means that anything submitted to the sites will be cataloged. As we're dealing with enterprise users, users will only see in the results information they have privileges to see, so those CIO comments or figures will remain out of reach. Results can be ranked and sorted, allowing users to quickly find the right answers.

Digging in Documents

As well as direct to Web data, D.I.G. can search in Office, OpenOffice and PDF files, as well as media files, stored online. It currently works in English, German and Russian, with stem-table support for other languages.

D.I.G. uses AJAX-powered interactive pages to show results, allowing users to refine their results. It also makes use of a taxonomy service with automatic tag cloud generation.

bitrix_big.jpg
Find data on your corporate intranets

The new search engine is available as part of the existing Bitrix products, Site Manager and Intranet Portal. Bitrix claims that B.I.G. is up to 10 times faster than traditional search, something we'd be keen to see proven.

Mochila and Netseer Bring Concept Based Advertising to Web Content

What do you get when you combine premium content with user intent? A partnership between Mochila (site) and Netseer that seeks to deliver content-based ad units that are tailored more accurately to the user’s immediate needs than ads targeted by context keywords.

The Partners

Mochila is best known for their massive online media marketplace that allows publishers access to quality photos, video and content. With more than 1,500 top-tier distributors, Mochila works to broaden a brand’s reach, while creating large-scale advertising opportunities. Supported by deep-dive metrics, an approach that is 100-percent customized and known for their short-term/high integration effort, advertisers can run ads within certain content categories like specific publisher or by keyword.

Netseer, by contrast, employs ad solutions that are based on a concept matching technology rather than keyword match or popularity ranking. Claiming that “keywords in isolation fall short of understanding the full intent of the user while popularity ranking may obscure the subject the user is interested in,” Netseer seeks to understand the user’s interests or intent in real time.

The Partnership

Through a strategic agreement with NetSeer, Mochila has licensed NetSeer’s concept-based advertiser and publisher solutions. This means that ad-supported links can be both conceptually relevant to a site and linked to associated search ads, which can further engage prospective brand advertisers.

Being able to integrate NetSeer’s unique scientific approach so that Web-derived “concepts” can be identified, Mochila will apply those concepts to its Ad Impact Platform (AIP), ultimately seeking to enhance its ability to deliver relevant ads within targeted content.

The Result

By taking traditional targeted advertising and adding new contextual and behavioral elements, concept-based advertising is poised to bring new benefits to what Mochila calls the “online advertising ecosystem.”

And while advertisers and publishers can better monetize their content, consumers can benefit as well, by being able to receive relevant and useful information to supplement their online user experience.