Excursions by Amit Gawande

Search Engines need to redesign their results

Dave Winer wrote few of his thoughts on how the search engines need to improve with time. He was focused a bit on how it can make blogging valuable. However he also had a underlying criticism for current search engines, mainly Google.

Sorry Google, your search engine is showing serious signs of age and boredom. We can do so much better. (…) It’s (Google) been stagnant for too long. They clearly need some competition.

I think it’s high time the way search results are presented to the user had some rethinking and redesigning exercise done. Search for anything and it is still a list of links (or an AMP carousel when it fits your business needs) even after more than 15 years since it was introduced. I do not think there is anyone who ever paginates to the third page of search results. I would bet more than 90% don’t even go to the second page.

I believe when people search for something they have a fair idea of what they are looking for. Search engines need to be smart in understanding if the user is searching for a place on the web or a general query around concepts. If it is the former, it should present every data it has about that place, in a manner that  easy to grasp. Dave’s list already has some good ideas. Give as much context as there is out there.

For later, it is important to focus on credibility and transparency. For example when a query is on some technical concept, it is good to show the discussions on Stack Overflow. In addition, it would be good to also show the articles that were referenced from those discussions separately. Don’t go along sweeping the web for all the key words. Without credible shares, it hardly matters and just gets exploited. Someone sharing it while discussions attaches a credibility factor to it.

Google’s attempt with Knowledge panel is good. But I believe it needs to be more transparent in communicating why it is displaying what it is displaying there.

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