22 posts categorized "Search Analytics"

December 05, 2010

Share your successes at ESS East next May

ESSSpringLogo Our friends over at InfoToday who run the successful Enterprise Search Summit conferences have asked us  to announce that the date for submitting papers to their Spring show in New York in May 2011 has been extended until Wednesday, December 8. You can find out what they are looking for and how to submit your proposal online at http://www.enterprisesearchsummit.com/Spring2011/CallForSpeakers.aspx.

Michelle Manafy, who runs the program again next May, really likes to have speakers who have found creative and successful ways to select, deploy, or manage ongoing enterprise search operations. We've co-presented with several of our customers in the past, and trust me, it's great fun and not bad for your career! And - no promises - the weather at ESS East has been great for just about every year - and we've been there for nearly 6 years now!

A friend told me something years ago that I've always fond helpful; I hope you'll take it to heart: 'Everything you know, someone else needs to know'. Don't worry if your search project isn't perfect; or worry that someone will find fault with what you've done. Trust me: there are many organizations newer to enterprise search than you are, and anything you found helpful will sure be valuable for them as well. And you get to attend al of the sessions, so you might learn more as well! A 'win-win' situation if I've ever seen one!

See you in New York!

/s/Miles

 

 

August 27, 2010

There's an Ant on your Southwest Leg!

The WSJ has an interesting article on how language effects how we think.  I particularly liked the example of a indigenous language where anything you discuss involves absolute cardinal directions (north, south, east, west etc.). You literally can't say "There is an ant on one of your legs". Instead you say something like "There's an ant on your southwest leg." To say hello you'd ask "Where are you going?", and an appropriate response might be, "A long way to the south-southwest. How about you?" If you don't know which way is which, you literally can't get past hello. 

Dr. Kevin Lim reviewed Search Engine Society , a book which explores the effect search engines have on politics, culture and economics. He is not your typical reviewer since he also mentioned in the book, due to his recording a large part of his life using cameras (one he wears, another at his desk points at him) while a GPS device tracks his movements.

Google throws its weight behind Voice Search by Stephen Lawson discusses how voice search is based on statistical models of what sequences of words are most likely to occur, and how they train a new language model. Another example of that would be Midomi , a web site where you search for music by singing a fragment of the song. 

Multilingual Search Engine Breaks Language Barriers discusses how the the UNL Society uses the pivot language UNL to return a precise answer in the language in which the question was formulated. This seems to be still a research project, with some related projects such as LACE trying to extract data from parallel corpora as a cheaper way to populate a lexical database.

XBRL Across The Language Divide by Jennifer Zaino discusses how XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) may be one of the few areas that benefits from the Monnet project , which attempts to "provide a semantics-based solution for accessing information across language barriers". It tries to "build software that breaks the link between conceptual information and linguistic expressions (the labels that point back to concepts in ontologies) for each language." When that works, it makes it easier and quicker to perform analytics across multiple languages.

The Cross-Language Evaluation Forum (CLEF) is working on infrastructure for testing, tuning and evaluation of systems that retrieve information in European languages, and benchmarks to help test it. One of its papers for example, compares lexical and algorithmetic stemming in 9 languages using Hummingbird SearchServer

May 25, 2010

Google and TV: "prevening" on the Bing Bang Theory

When a popular TV show mentions an odd word, there's a tendency for people to look it up online and/or blog about it.

Our staff likes "The Big Bang Theory". One of the characters mentions the term "prevening" referring to the time between mid afternoon and the early evening.

When I first heard the term:

  • Mon 5/24/2010, 10:49pm PDT
  • Google shows 7,000 hits
  • including an entry Urban Dictionary from 2008

When watching a rerun of a different episode this evening, I remembered this post and went back to check:

  • Mon 7/19/10 11:04pm PDT
  • Google shows 96,000 hits
  • more than a 10x increase, pretty cool

Some years later, reviewing old blog posts, checked again:

  • Thu 5/23/2013 17:13 PDT
  • Google shows 95,800 hits
  • With 0.2 % of reading 3 years ago, so I'll call it quiescent

I had another more colorful entry from the Jay Leno show, but apparently too off color for our blog.  :-(

May 10, 2010

Google's Opt-Out Option for Behavioral Targeting

Last month Google announced that they would provide a browser plug-in to allow users to opt-out of Google Analytics tracking.  Joseph Stanhope's post explained why it was highly doubtful that this would do substantial harm to Google Analytics and its customers. Several posts such as one by Felipe Miyata suggested that this was an “insurance” move to silence opposition from privacy supporters, perhaps in preparation for doing more web analytics within the U.S. Federal Government.

Anil Batra's post has a quite different explanation - he suggests that it is really an attempt by Google to make more money by taking another step towards behavioral targeting.

February 24, 2010

Enterprise Search Summit 2010 - DC

Even as we prepare for ESS East in New York (ESS NY from now on?), Information Today has issued its call for papers for the first ever ESS-DC to be held in Washington DC November 16-18 2010.

Follow this link to find background on what InfoToday is looking for; or jump right to the submissions page. Don't be shy: everyone who presents papers had, at one time, never done it before. What you know, someone else needs to know!

In our experience, the kind of content InfoToday likes is the information that can help an organization select or manage search and related technologies. Generally, real-world stories about how other companies and organizations have succeeded with search are the ones that attendees appreciate the most. 

We'll also be having a searchdev dinner at ESS DC this year. Details to come late in summer, but plan for it now!

Are you doing search now? Have you been successful getting it going on time and under budget? Tell your story. Submit your idea now!

February 10, 2010

News front: Convera files for dissolution

Convera, one of the companies offering 'vertical search' to help publishers and other content owners monetize their content, has filed to dissolve and liquidate the business. It was de-listed from NASDAQ Monday afternoon.

Convera, not unlike SearchButton.com which NIE spun off in 1998, was a hosted search company - now called 'site search' or 'search as a service'. It was a great idea, but when things imploded in 2001, Convera went after the market of monetizing content. That lead to Convera becoming a victim of the same problems faced by newspapers and publishers around the world, who they counted as their market: how do you sell content that is freely available from companies like Google, Yahoo, and Bing; and from blogs world-wide?

Google has a pretty darned reasonable site search service, by the way.

RIP.

/s/Miles

August 21, 2009

Grokker has closed its doors...

Well, it's official - Grokker, one of the early innovators in visual result presentation - has closed its doors. Grokker_results As we wrote in our recent Enterprise Search Newsletter, they had been looking for someone to acquire the company and its technology; but apparently in this market at their asking price, no buyer came in to rescue the company.

Grokker's web site is still up and running, but we expect that won't last. Calls to its San Francisco phone number, and emails to the company, go unanswered.

As recently as last month, some New Idea engineering partners and friends were in negotiations with the company; but our inside sources tell us they were just not able to make a deal.

Grokker was one of the early innovators in visualization of results, and had integrated with a number of commercial search engines including FAST and the Google Search Appliance. One of the problems I think they had was trying to position themselves properly: were they a federation company like Deep Web Technologies and Muse Global; or an innovative visualization company with few real competitors? Maybe both needed to go together, but I think Grokker just wasn't able to generate a compelling reason for companies to  buy. If you are a user of Grokker's software, tell us how you use it.

We're sorry to see them go.

June 08, 2009

Enterprise Search Engine Optimization: eSEO

Last week at the Gilbane Conference in San Francisco, I participated in a panel "Search Survival Guide: Delivering Great Results" moderated by Hadley Reynolds of IDC. In the presentation, I offered a new view on improving enterprise search engine relevancy that I call eSEO.

The term SEO is well understood by - and widely practiced in - the corporate world.  The concept of SEO, as summarized by one of the Gilbane talks, states that "Key to the value of any Web content is the ability for people to find it”. In the SEO world this is done by combining organic results and keyword placement - advertising - to improve placement, maintain ranking, and monitor search engine position - results- over time.

While we've been helping our customers improve their enterprise search results, it's hard to convince them that search results are not a problem they can solve once. I've decided to apply a new term to this process - Enterprise Search Engine Optimization, or eSEO. To paraphrase the role of SEO, eSEO is the process of combining organic results and best bets to deliver correct, relevant, timely content to enterprise search users - employees, customers, partners, investors, and others.

For both organic and best bets, the first step is to identify what we call the "top 100" queries. Start by creating a histogram that shows the top terms from your search engine. I hope you'll agree that if the top queries - whether 100, 50, or even 20 - deliver great results, you're on your way to having happy users. Talk to your content owners as you review the histogram, and ask them to identify the best result for each.

Once you have a list of queries and results, start the two step process: tune the search engine using its native query tuning capabilities. This will impact the shape of the histogram, and over time should start delivering better results. The bad news is tuning like this doesn't position all of your top terms, and it would be silly to try to micro-manage the results for each. That's why search engines have best bets.

When you feel pretty good about the curve through query tuning, it' time to start setting up best bets - the "ad words" of eSEO. Limit the number of bests bets to one or two at most - but remember that you can use other real-estate like the rightmost column of the screen to suggest additional content. Some guidelines for best bets:

  • Use one or at most two best bets
  • Don't repeat a document already at the top of the organic results
  • Make sure your best bets respect security

Once you have tuned your search engine, and set up best bets for the most timely and actionable result, you're ready to roll it out. But then the ongoing part comes in: you need to review your search activity and best bets periodically. Usually, we'd suggest once a month for a while, then perhaps quarterly thereafter. You may find seasonal variations, and if you're not watching you'll miss a golden opportunity.

In Summary

1. eSEO is just as critical as SEO

  • Lost time and revenue
  • Legal exposure

2. Watch for trends over time: Search is not "fire and forget"

3. Make sure SEO doesn't impact your eSEO

  • Use fielded data that web search engines ignore for your tuning (i.e., 'Abstract' rather than 'Description'.

This will get you started; but because your queries and your content changes over time, it's a never-ending story. Some companies - ours included - have tools that can help. But no matter what, hang in there!

s/Miles


July 21, 2008

New site for quality search tools and components

We're happy to announce that we've kicked off the beta of a new site to help the community of intranet, customer facing, and local search by proving a directory to the best of open source, no cost, low cost and commercial software tools, components, and products.

That site, mentioned by Steve Arnold this morning in his interview with Mark and I, is

SearchComponenetsOnline

We're beginning to post the tools we've been following for a few months now, and will have many more over the coming days, weeks, and months. Let us know if there's a tool you want to see listed by replying with a comment.

June 18, 2008

Search Quality: You Can't Improve What You Don't Measure

In our latest survey of new newsletter subscribers we found that 29% had no formal metrics for measuring quality of search results.  Search metrics allow you to keep search on the right track and can be a powerful tool for managing your systems.  They are a wonderful source for insights and trends.  We thought we would share a couple that we think work well. Many of these are covered in greater depth in Interpreting Your Search Activity Reports in the Enterprise Search newsletter.

  • Count the number of people who use search  
  • Count the total number of searches  
  • Count the number of zero search results  
  • User feedback on top 100 searches  
  • Track email complaints about search  
  • Measure number of clicks on navigators (navigation menu items)  
  • Business Goals  
  •    
    • Reduce call volume (normallized for growth in customer base) by enabling self-service from search: results are good enough to reduce calls.
    • Reduce e-mail volume (again adjusted for growth in customer base) by enabling self-service from search: results are good enough to reduce e-mails. 
    • Revenue       
    • Add-on revenue