Yahoo Queries The Obscure

    November 13, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Search queries that engines like Yahoo’s rarely see can be problematic for the technology, and frustrating for the searcher who doesn’t receive a relevant response.

Yahoo Queries The Obscure
Yahoo Queries The Obscure

Such frustration serves no one, not the searcher, and definitely not the search engine as it fails to place relevant advertising alongside the search results a person hopes to see. It’s a situation, as Resource Shelf indicated from Yahoo Research, that has room for improvement.

The fine minds at Yahoo Research, who most recently enjoyed their supercomputer debut at Carnegie Mellon, tackled the problem of obscure queries. Their research yielded a way to improve upon the one-off searches that engines sometimes see:

To address the problem, the Yahoo! team proposed a methodology for using search results, as well as information available on the Web, as a source of external knowledge. To this end, they sent rare queries to a search engine and assumed that a majority of the highest-ranking search results were relevant to the query. Categorizing these results allowed the team to classify the original query with high accuracy

The results definitively confirmed that using the Web as a repository of world knowledge contributes valuable information about the query, and aids in its correct classification. “We discovered the best source of information to understand what these rare queries are about is to look at the search results,” Broder explains. “If you look at each returned page as a vote on what the query is about, you find that the majority tends to be correct even though many individual pages are wrong.”

A couple of positive results should happen as research continues. Search results should be more in line with what the searcher expects, while advertisers with the most appropriate messages to place with those results may find better responses to their campaigns from qualified customers.

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