Tag Archives: Searching

How to find someones Google Reader Shared items

One of the things most social media junkies do substantial amount of time is read their peers rant about world and give useful hints and ideas. Since there are too many of us out there, there’s a neat trick you can do: piggy back on best stories from someone else.

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Image by movimente via Flickr

The way to do this is to figure out if your personal hero is using Google Reader and sharing his or hers picks with the world. There are a number of strategies to get to their RSS feed of shared stories:

  • by asking them directly, either in person or via Twitter. Shows that you really care and that you’re willing to proper stalk them and their interests.
  • find them on FriendFeed and see if they’ve imported their stories. You can then get their feed url from there and just add it to your Google Reader.
  • read/search their blog and they’re going to eventually post the address. It’s also often hidden in blogroll or on a side of blog.

If anyone is interested, my shared feed is also available. Beware that their might be cute kittens hidden in there.

Are you sharing? Post you share feed address in comments so we can benefit from collective crowd-sharing.

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Cuil – where’s the social media in the launch?

Tagging: Maldives StyleImage by nattu via Flickr

It’s now more than a day since Cuil, the latest hyped Google killer launched, and we can reflect on looking at how that went.

According to TechCrunch and a number of other sources, it didn’t go too well, with their servers crashing a number of times. I’ve seen this also happen, failing to even load their most basic static pages, like general information.

What I’m wondering is why did they miss the whole social media aspect of launching a new service. They are clearly not active in this space, with their Twitter account @cuil having 22 followers but not even a single message.

Here are 5 simple things any startup can do make their presence more human and accessible:

  1. Make us of top 5 currently most active social media services: Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook and two lesser known from your field.
    1. b) Actually link to these pages from your page
  2. Get a strong presence with real people at GetSatisfaction, to quickly and easily answer their questions and reassure them about their problems (with extra points for actually fixing them).
  3. Provide a human face to your “Contact us” section. Provide personal email of your community manager, with extra points for his or hers picture next to it. Shipping address is not the most important part of that page.
  4. Have a blog (yes, this is different from News and press boring PR messages).
  5. Be part of discussions on other pages. (TechCrunch Cuil news has 260+ comments. Not a single answer from the authors)

What’s even more interesting is the fact that Chris Brogan wrote a post, mentioning that Google’s first hit for Cuil is a story how Cuil is not a threat to Google. While the web is big, Google’s own Matt Cutts managed to find a time to comment on that post and provide their side of the story.

Why is there not a single answer from the creators on the web (besides the seemingly highly paid articles in semi-traditional media)?

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Building Websites with Findability in Mind – Stuart Colville [WSG notes]

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Image by Ramón★Gris via Flickr

Who needs to find your content? Examples are readers, potential users, customers etc.

Basic requirements:

  • You need to have an understanding of your potential audience. If you look at your site with wish to make it findable you have to understand your audience.
  • Semantic markup is good for marking up.
  • Good context
  • Accessibility
  • Search engine friendliness
  • No barriers to indexation

Making content more appealing for your audience. Niche subjects have lot less competition from other sites. If you find your niche this is good. Originality is also good, re-mixing other peoples content is also really good. It’s also important to stay on topic for your subject. Also adding comments and discussions create lots of new content for your site and it also gives a new perspective to your content.
Powerful audience can create great stuff: user reviews, tagging etc.

Folksonomies (tags) are a great thing for your site. A basis for your search, and it can replace fixed categorization in your blogs. Tagging is a way for enabling association in a different way. Tags are keyword rich, that’s why search engines love them.

Biggest search engine around is still Google.

What can we do to make our content more findable?

  • Web standards
  • Semantic markup
  • Recommendation SEO test poster
  • Accessible content is indexable content

Markup: meta - it’s not such a bit deal anymore. Meta descriptions are still important as they are still used to describe your web page.
One good plugin for WordPress is “Meta-description plugin”.

Markup: Titles and Headings. You want to make title very relevant as this is going to be the title it’s going to show up in del.icio.us and people’s bookmarks. Headings, especially h1 element, with one h1 per page as it tells the search engine the most relevant piece of information.

Markup: Text. Strong emphasis elements do have higher weight, but it’s usually better to err on the side of something that is semantic, then to optimize for search engines.
Duplicate content, is not something that should be too worried about. Especially if it’s natural duplication.

Markup: Imagery. If you are doing something that’s a pure design element, background images are good for that. If you want to use an image, but has some data in it, you want to use image placement. If you are thinking about performance, spriting images is really great. Use all attributes correctly and make sure the alt text is set correctly.

Markup: Microformats. They provide a simple layer to your structure around common use structure to provide an easy way to read your content for your machine. There are some powerful tools around this: X2V – taking a site and extracting calendar and hCard information; operator plugin for Firefox. The real power comes from the sites that can then reuse this information to create new powerful products.

Markup: JavaScript. Unobtrusive javascript is the way to go. It’s important to not put content on your site that it’s not useful without javascript. The important thing is that if you need the content to be there just for javascript, you should generate/inejct the elements into the page with Javascript.

Too Stack on not to Stack? Different approaches to the problem. Single page with div switching, or emulating the whole experience with server-generated pages.

Performance and indexation. The more performance it’s good for you users and search engines. Last-modified headers are a good thing that will allow search engines to focus on your newest and greatest search content. One helpful tip is that if you have Google ads on the page, Google will visit the site more often as it reindexes page to make sure they’re still relevant.

URLs are important because it makes your page better for both users and search engines.

“A cool URI is one which does not change” – Tim Berners Lee

How to move your content around

De-indexing, when you want to remove some content from search engine. By providing a proper 404 you are telling search engine that it went away. Alternatively you can show 401, to tell that the page purposefully went away.

Robots.txt is something that allows you to setup rules and definitions what you want and don’t want the search engines to index.

Redirect 301 is the best way to tell the search engines that the page is permanently moved.

Putting it all together

Google Webmaster tools is an useful resource that will tell you how are you doing as regards the standards and how they see your page.
Google Analytics or log files are ways to learn about your page.

Summary

It’s important to think about findability before you write your code. Having a good content, together with semantic markup is something that you should always do. The content should be accessible with or without the javascript. You can control indexation with robots.txt and you can cater moving with 301 moved permanently header.

Introduction to Findability, Cyril Doussin [WSG meetup 28/05/08]

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Here are my notes from tonight’s Web Standards Group London Meetup, the topic was Findability.

It’s a big subject, so he’s going to focus mostly on theoretical aspect. The topic of findability has been very well research by Peter Morville (semanticstudios.com) – Ambient Findability book

“Finding” and what it means.

Dictionary:

  • Discover or perceive by chance o unexpectedly
  • Discover after a delibarate search
  • Succeed in obtaining
  • What is exposed to us (on purposes on inadvertently)
  • After search

We’re searching for: physical items. We’re also searching for digital information, mostly knowledge about: oneself, concepts (mining of something), more detailed information (e.g., products), entities in the same society (people, organizations, businesses).

Besides knowledge we’re trying to find opinions also. To validate feelings or judgments, in order to feel more conformable about data; we also search to establish trust relationships; complementary judgments (finding different POV on things).

Definition of information is a complex subject, but authors definition is:

  • Data: a string of identified but unevaluated symbols
  • Information: evaluated, validated or useful data
  • Knowledge: information in the context of understanding

Information is very closely tied to communication.

Examples are memes,  pieces of information that are transmitted from one mind to another. Either verbally or physical action. One example of this is “Rick Rolling”. If you are able to achieve this, you have “viral marketing”.

Multi-agent systems, systems composed of interacting intelligent agents. It’s a domain of AI. There are two types of agents:

  • Reactive agents (e.g., colonies of ants; they base their communication on very simple signals and they don’t really have a clue about the larger task)
  • Cognitive agents (e.g., closer to human beings; they are able to memorize things, they have beliefs and they have pretty complex ways of communication with each other)

Interesting base to study collective environment.

Findability referees to the quality of things we find.

Item level:

Evaluate to what degree a particular object is easy to discover or ..

System level:

How well a psychical or digital environment supports navigation and retrieval

Wayfinding: a complex events of what people to get from one place to go:

5 step process:

  • Knowing where you are
  • Knowing your destination
  • Following the best route
  • Being able to recognize your destination
  • Finding your way back

How do we make something findable?

Make sure that the item is easy to discover or locate

Have a well organized system which supports easy navigation and retrieval

“In your face” discovery principle; expose the item in places known to be frequented by the target audience. This is a case for advertising and commercial display. Advertisers have to understand how people navigate and use the world in which they live. Contextual example are airport related adds around airports since these are the people who usually drive around.

Hand-guided navigation:

  • Sorting/ordering
  • Sign-posting

Example: restaurant menus are sorted by the dish types and when you eat it in the process.

Describe and browse:

  • Similar to asking for directors
  • Similar to asking random questions
  • Get list of entry-points to pages

It’s also possible to mix things up. First example is from Google, direct links to custom web sites and inline search. Search assist for Yahoo proposes stuff to users other interesting things around this term.

Recommendations:

  • Describe intent
  • Casual discussions
  • Advice
  • Past-experience

Essentially they are heavily based upon communication between peers..

Web is essentially a giant referral system. Anyone can add signs to entry-doors on your site. But this leads to need for relevancy system; someone seeing the signs don’t really know if that is the best way to go. One solution for this is PageRank, in order to put ranking on links; peer based example is Digg.

Relevance has two ways to measure effectivens the best as possible:

  • Precisions: how well a system retrieves only relevant documents
  • Recall: how well a system retrieves all relevant documents

Precisions = (number relevant and retrieved) / Total number retrieve

Recall = (number relevant and retrieved) / total number of relevant

When we talk about relevance, we need to identify the type of search that is being performed by the user:

  • Sample search: a small subset of documents are sufficient (most of the time; we often don’t look at the second page of results) (precision method)
  • Existence search: search for a specific document (precision method)
  • Exhaustive search: full set of documents needed (recall method)

Content Organization:

  • Taxonomy: organization through labeling
  • Ontology: taxonomy + inference rules (RDF, Dublin core)
  • Folksonomy: adding a social dimension

It’s increasingly important as the volume of information grows and information is shared. Very good base for search engines.

Measuring Findability on the Web:

  • Count the number of steps (less steps, better)
  • Many ways to get your data (search engines are predominate; peer-based lists and directories are also important)

Recommendations:

  • Aim to strike a balance between sources
  • Know the path your audience will follow (do user testing)
  • Understand the type of search
  • Make advertising relevant (which is highly subjective, and a hard thing to do)
  • Make your content rich and relevant
  • Make your content structured

Black / Dark Google for Earth Hour

Having a nice white Google homepage in your browser is somehow reassuring as you know that you just have to start typing in order to lookup the data in the the metaverse.

This all changed when your favorite search engine turned their lights off in order to promote Earth Hour, their initiative to remind us to conserve energy and enable power-sawing modes on our computers and other electronic gadget.

If you are wondering why your Google didn’t turn dark for that one Earth Hour, it is because it’s probably because it is not between 8pm and 9pm maybe your local Google just doesn’t want to play. Here is a quick screen shot how I noticed it on Google UK.

Black Google Earth day