If you think SEO is hard now, just wait until search engines start varying the results for each individual, depending on their profile, search history, geographic location, and now… mindset. Yahoo Mindset is Yahoo Labs’ foray into intent-driven search, where sorting of the results are partially dependent upon the searcher’s intentions (whether they are in a shopping frame-of-mind or a research frame-of-mind). Yahoo is using machine learning to score web results as commercial or informational. Scores range from -2 (most commercial) to +2 (most informational). It’s a pretty cool idea but I don’t think they’ve quite nailed it yet. (They do refer to it as a “demo” on the home page so I can’t be too hard on them!) The big question is: does Yahoo decide what each page is, or does it decide on the whole site? Imagine being a commercial site and Yahoo decides you are researching only. A trawl through some common search queries reveals that results on the research end are no less commercial than the commercial end, but the slider bar on the left of each result is different, so maybe the machine learning algo is scoring the pages differently. Fold in personalized search (where search results vary depending on the searcher’s profile and previous search behavior) and local search (where results vary by the searchers’ geographic location) and then it starts getting really interesting for us SEOs. It’ll make life a lot tougher for optimizers because we’ll need three times the content if we want to be found at the commercial and research ends of the search, as well as in the middle. Just as with personalized search, local search, and other innovations coming out of the search engines’ labs, intent-driven search is yet another nail in the coffin of old-school SEO.
Hershel Reese says
Always nice to see innovation online. I wonder what the implications for RSS feeds will be based on this tiered approach to search intention…