Redefining Navigational Queries to Find Perfect Sites

A number of search engine researchers look at queries that searchers type into a search box, and break them down into three kinds of queries based upon the intent of those searchers – navigational, informational, and transactional. Navigational queries have been seen as searches where someone searching intended to find a specific known site.

Imagine instead considering a navigational query to be one where a perfect site exists that is an ideal one for a search engine to show to a searcher in response to that query, regardless of whether they knew about the site or not. A search engine might put that perfect site at the top of search results, and not worry too much about other results shown.

When is a query a navigational query, and when might a site be considered a perfect site for that query?

A recent patent application from Yahoo transforms the meaning of what a navigation query is, and finds a way to automate the process of determining whether a query is navigational, and whether a perfect page does exist for that query.

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Smarter Google Maps Would Add Movement and Templates for Tasks

Would you use an internet mapping system that could show you changes in distances to places that you’ve identified as you move around?

How about one where specific templates could be created to show you information about locations to help you with tasks such as home hunting or school hunting or vacationing?

Google explores those kinds of abilities in a new patent application titled Dynamic Exploration of Electronic Maps (US Patent Application 20080059205).

Google Electronic Map

The templates for different tasks could be created by Google or Google users or by both. The maps might use some technology like AJAX to update distances and other information on the fly.

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Yahoo Automates Usability Consulting

How much might the usability of a web page matter to a search engine? If that search engine were to look at an approximation of the layout of a web page, it could try to understand how good of a user experience visiting that page might be, and evaluate the page based upon certain characteristics that it finds upon the page.

A patent application from Yahoo provides a long list of factors that it might look at to determine how usable a web page might be.

So why would a search engine be interested in determining the usability of a web page?

The authors of the document tell us that:

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The Importance of Page Layout in SEO

If a search engine could understand the layout of a web page and identify the most important part of a web page, it could pay more attention to that section of the page when indexing content from the page.

It could give links found within that section of the page more weight than links found in other sections of the page, and it could consider information within that area more weight when determining what the page is about.

We’ve seen the idea of breaking pages up into parts from a couple of the major commercial search engines:

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