• http://www.facebook.com/marcuscudd Marcus Cudd

    “People need to learn how to search. Search experts need to teach people how to search. Enough said.”

    I disagree. Plenty of products come with instruction manuals on how to use them properly. I don’t believe the search engines do an adequate job teaching searchers how to use them properly. Help is obscure. Search users don’t take kindly to the idea that the search engine has very little responsibility to teach people how to search.

    As a search expert I can talk to users about best practices for search, but I don’t own the search engines, nor is it ethical for me to claim I know how they handle every query.

    I think the average user is much better at using search engines than they were 2 or 3 years ago. I think it’s reasonable for them to expect a search engine that advertises better results to be much better at anticipating intent.

  • cjvannette

    “I think it’s reasonable for them to expect a search engine that
    advertises better results to be much better at anticipating intent.”

    Is that a dig at Bing? :) It would be a fair one. One of the searches I did during my Bing It On taste test was “seo blog strategy” (no quotation marks in the query). Google thought that I meant SEO strategies for blogs; Bing thought that I meant SEO blogs about strategies. Google was right; Bing was wrong.

    Of course, if I had just queried Bing with “SEO strategies for blogging,” maybe it would have done better. But I agree that searchers get frustrated when they have to think too hard about the right way to phrase their query.

  • http://twitter.com/sharithurow sharithurow

    Hi guys-

    I believe Google has some how-to-search items, such as:


    (Scroll to the bottom of the page)

    Chris Sherman wrote a book called Google Power.

    And I am a HUGE fan of Ryen White at Microsoft – he writes about exploratory search. http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/ryenw/

    I didn’t say search engine expert, as in SEO or software engineer. I think that search/retrieval should be taught at colleges and universities as well as high school. I had to take 2 required library/info science classes for my first master’s degree (one in American English, the other in Japanese). I wish I had taken those classes as a freshman undergraduate. I would have been such a better student and researcher had I known how to search more effectively.

    There are so many myths and misconceptions about how and why search results appear. Students honestly do not know how to critically evaluate search listings to accomplish their goals. As search professionals, I think we have a duty to teach people how to search as well as how to optimize…beyond this whole rankings “thing.”

    So I teach and lecture at academic institutions as much as time will allow me.

    Being physically handicapped these past few years (and very much on track to being able to walk normally again) has greatly limited my availability. I look forward to teaching and traveling again.

    I think the folks at Bing need to be pushed out of their comfort zone to genuinely improve their search interface. I see promise there (hey Ryen White is still at Microsoft; there is hope).

    I must respectfully disagree with you on one point, Marcus. I don’t think the average user is better at searching. Dr. Dirk Lewandowski recently published a paper about searchers and simple/complex search tasks. In his paper, he said, “Users tend to over estimate their own search capabilities in case of complex search tasks.


    I’ll let you all read the paper and tell me what you think. I keep a special file with all of Dr. Lewandowski’s and White’s publications. Smart men. Good research.

  • Bill Hunt

    Hi Shari,

    This brings back old memories. I did a presentation many years ago with a similar diagram. I did add an additional circle “business objectives” and found that these often clashed with the user’s and the website circles. You reference Peter’s “business goals and context” which often does not translate exactly to the web where I think some of the challenges occur.

    With the 4 circles – the that “sweet spot” where all 4 overlapped is where a companies often has the most success and the goal was to widen it by better matching the searchers interest with our content and from that we can satisfy business goals. To many people focus on making the website fit the search engine’s goals.