Real Innovation in Search

Reading all the techie articles about semantic search vs. statistical models and semantic web vs. semantic search, it occurred to me that in one way, all that debate is besides the point. 

Consumers usually only search with two or three words.  If you pick two random words and google them, you’ll get tens of thousands of pages. 

With only two words to go on, the best search technology in the world is still going to have a really hard time understanding what the searcher wants.  That’s true if you have semantic search, statistical models, or the Head Librarian from the Library of Congress trying to get the “best” answer.

I think real innovation in search is going to have to come from creating user interfaces that get consumers to form better search queries.  For web search, we’ve had the single search box for more than a decade.  For travel sites, it’s still two cities and two dates.  For most job sites, it’s title/location.  (Not Trovix, though!)

Dating sites like eharmony figured out years ago that to get a person matched up with the best search result, you need more information.  Yet most search sites won’t let you spend three minutes to give relevant information, even if you wanted to.   

The technology on the back end can support more complex queries, so the bottleneck is the front end.  Trovix has a huge innovation in that it takes a full document and uses that to create a query. I suspect that other search technology companies will eventually follow this model.  The one-size fits search box is what we need to innovate away from.


2 Responses to “Real Innovation in Search”

  1. Charles Knight Says:

    I think a mashup of this blog post and this page: would make a great post on AltSearchEngines. C Knight, editor

  2. Jonna Says:

    Couldn’t agree more! Finding ways to get more context from what the user wants is now paramount…

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