What Makes Teoma Different: Did Anyone Say “Themes?”

    February 10, 2003

What Makes Teoma Different: Did Anyone Say “Themes?”
If there could ever be a search engine designed specifically to reward the developers of high-value, high-content websites, Teoma is it. Teoma likes content-rich websites (just like yours) with lots of links from related sites (you work on this every day, right?), that follow a consistent theme (there’s that word again!).

The reason for this is that Teoma introduces a new concept to search engine technology, called “subject specific popularity.” While other search engines look at “link popularity” (how many links), “link relevance” (what words are in or around the link), and/or “link weight” (how popular is the site the link is on), Teoma wants to know much more about your site.

To give you an idea of what this is about, let me start by quoting directly from their press release, with a little highlighting and bold text added to emphasize the key points:

“Like real-life social networks, the Web is organized into clusters of local communities. Communities are groups of Web pages that are about or related to the same subject. Teoma is the only search technology that can view these communities as they naturally occur on the Web (displayed under the heading “Refine” on Teoma.com).

This unique method allows Teoma to generate more finely tuned search results, exposing dimensions of the Web that have previously gone unseen by other engines. In other words, Teoma’s community-based approach reveals a 3-D image of the Web, providing it with more information about a particular Web page than other engines, which only have a one-dimensional view of the Web.

This wealth of information allows Teoma to add a new level of relevance to search results, known as authority. Authority represents a level of expertise or knowledge to a Web page as validated by the other Web pages about the same subject.”

Now a quick quote from Teoma’s website:

“To determine the authority-and thus the overall quality and relevance-of a site’s content, Teoma uses Subject-Specific PopularitySM. Subject-Specific Popularity ranks a site based on the number of same-subject pages that reference it, not just general popularity.”

First, this tells us that Teoma ranks sites based on what’s on the page (of course), but that the “off the page factors” include how well linked they are from other pages about the same subject. Links from related sites count for more than links from unrelated sites. Presumably, links from related sites that have greater “authority” will count even more.

Further, Teoma is not simply looking at a single word to define the subject of a page. Related subjects are clearly visible on Teoma’s website, as the suggested “refinements” to a particular search. Presumably, the list of refinements displayed first is the listing of subjects considered most closely related. There is a link to “show all refinements” which displays all of the related terms.

In other words, Teoma is the first fully theme-based search engine to reach a substantial audience. This technology has allowed them to develop a system that delivers relevant results on a level comparable to the other major players. In my opinion, it is better than the rest today, and only their smaller database keeps them from being the very best search engine.

One of the interesting “side effects” of Teoma’s algorithm is that it will encourage the “search engine optimization” community to put a greater focus on relevance. Both within their clients’ websites, and in the linking campaigns that inevitably follow the initial stages of positioning and optimizing a website.

I wish you success…

Dan Thies is a well-known writer and teacher on search engine marketing. He offers consulting, training, and coaching for webmasters, business owners, SEO/SEM consultants, and other marketing professionals through his company, SEO Research Labs. His next online class will be a link building clinic beginning March 22