Enhancing search results with metadata

Enhancing search results with metadata. My tag fever has now infected the InfoWorld site, as Chad Dickerson and Matt McAlister have recently discussed. This opens up a bunch of possibilities. Today, for example, I tweaked my experimental InfoWorld power search
to report the InfoWorld-assigned tags for URLs in the result set. Only
the most recent items carry tags. But when they do exist, it seems
really useful to surface them in a search context. Since new stuff is
being tagged, and since search is weighted for recency, they'll be
showing up a lot more as we go forward. 

Enhancing search results with metadata is something I've been thinking about, and doing, for a long time. I devoted a chapter of my 1999 book to the topic, and outlined the same strategies in a column way back in 2000.

The basic idea is really simple. When you're scanning a list of search
results, it's expensive to click through to a dead end. To avoid that
outcome, you'd like the results page to decorate each item with clues
that help you decide whether it's worth investing some of your scarce
attention. I think the tags will turn out to be a great source of these
clues. So will aggregated metadata from del.icio.us — common tags,
number of citations — but that'll require more caching of del.icio.us
data than I'm doing now.

You may also notice that InfoWorld's result URLs are starting to have a new look. What would once have been:

IP telephony is still about the money

would now be:

IP telephony is still about the money | InfoWorld | News | 2001-05-28 | by Stephen Lee

Surfacing these extra bits of metadata — the publication, the story
type, the date, the author — is a great way to make search results
more scannable. The mechanism is the humble, but often overlooked, HTML
doctitle — that is, the contents of your HTML pages' <title>

If you're not expressing your doctitles as a virtual metadata
repository, you're missing out on some low-hanging fruit. The strategy
pays multiple dividends because doctitles show up everywhere: in your
own search engine, in Google and friends, in local and shared
bookmarks, maybe even (as in our case) in your web analytics.  [Jon's Radio]

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