Tuesday, October 10, 2006

10 ways to improve Google search

Larry Page once said: "The ultimate search engine would understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want".

I believe Larry Page, co-founder of Google, is wrong!

I think it's possible to go beyond giving people what they want. I believe that a search engine that gives me "more than I want" would be better than Larry's ultimate search engine.

Larry wants the search engine to meet your expectations. I want a search engine that exceeds your expectations.

So here are 10 ways to improve Google search. Somebody has probably written all of this before and Google(or somebody else) is probably working on all of it as we speak, but I'm writing it anyway.

1. Improve inbound link factoring. Instead of just valueing inbound links from quality websites like PageRank does, give higher scores to inbound links from websites that my friends and professional network value. This shouldn't be that difficult using data from my list of MSN-friends, the people I send mail to through gmail and the google toolbar.

2. Ask clarifying questions. When a user searches for Columbia, Ask.com asks you: "Did you mean Space Shuttle Columbia or the country Columbia".

3. Include conversion factors in the ratings. Increase the search scores of sites with high conversion rates. These sites probably have desirable product offerings that are more relevant than sites with low conversion rates.(Google is probably already measuring this for a lot of companies)

4. Increase the search scores of sites with loyal users. A site that people are loyal to is probably a good and relevant site.

5. Introduce a human side. Connect the Google search results directly with Google Answers. Can't find what you're looking for? Get a quality answer to your search from a real person that's an expert on what you're searching for

6. Add e-mail notification features. Include the option of e-mail notification when a person responds to your search

7. Add Social search. Add functionality similar to www.lijit.com where google's search result pages are enriched with information about the sites from people I trust.

8. Analyse sentences. Give the user options in the search results to let the user narrow down on the search. See how the search engine Infact.com does it.

9. Switch the "I'm feeling lucky" button with "I wanna shop". Usability studies performed on Become.com indicate that people like the two options better than Google's options. According to Google studies, nobody uses the "I'm feeling lucky" button on Google anyway.

10. Sesam.no has some nice people search functionality. I can actually type down the name of a person in Norway and get address information and which companies that person is affiliated with. Pretty neat.

Feel free to comment and improve. Some of my suggestion categories probably overlap. I will try to improve the list as I get comments.