Why Search Engine Fail

by Vijay Verma - Date: 2007-01-13 - Word Count: 447 Share This!

Imagine asking a stranger for directions to a clothing store. Chances are, the stranger will tell you one of two replies. They'll direct you to the nearest clothing store they know of, or they'll send to to the last one they just passed. But you're looking for the latest Spongebob Squarepants kid's shirt. You didn't tell the stranger that, did you? Probably not. So, you got directions to the local Disney store, which of course, would not be selling any competitor's clothing. How did this happen? Simple. Like most of us, when we type something into a search engine, we just assume that the search engine knows what we mean. A computer can only do what we tell it to do, so that's why we may not get the desired results that we are seeking. Back when the 'Net was young (1990), you could get away with such simple phrases because there wasn't much content on the Internet as there is now. This is why when you're searching, be sure to be as specific as possible. The Search Engine's entire existance is to provide relevant and specific results to you, the user. Tell the engine more relevant phrases, and you will be rewarded accordingly. Even when searching for a singular or plural version of something, you will get different results. Some words are even more complex. For example, if you enter "wheelchair", Google will tell you there are about 1.4 million results. Add a space, and now you have "wheel chair" and Google will tell you that there are about 4.6 million results! Now to even complicate matters more, if you enter "wheel chairs" there are only 760,000 results. Remove the space and for "wheelchairs" you now get about 1.2 million results. How does this happen? Remember, the search engines are programmed to try and deliver the best document for each given keyword/phrase. Through a complex algorithm, they mathmatically determine which page has the most relevant content. They do this for every possible keyword and phrase that they are aware of. This why you see such a disparity in the search results. How can I rank for all of my similar keywords? Glad you asked. One of the many factors used in determining keyword relevancy is proximity. By using the variations of the spelling in a logical manner - such as the example I presented above, describing the different ways it can be spelled - the search engines will use this to determine that since your page talks about these variations of wheelchairs, this page must be relevant. Of course there are many other factors involved, but for the sake of this discussion, that's all we need.

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