Categorized Search

Search Engine Marketing

Categorized Search goes by several different names – categorized search and clustered search are the most popular – and has been around for several years. The reason I’m including it as a recent search trend is that the second/third generations of this type of search engine have been introduced and are starting to create interest in the search community. The more important reason to keep an eye on categorized search is that IT IS A VERY GOOD CONCEPT.

As digital content continues to expand at a dizzying pace, search engine indexes continue expand as well, but the search engines are hard pressed to include the most relevant results in the first 1-3 pages of search results, especially for single word searches and/or very common search phrases. The search engine companies know that something has to be done to help the searcher find what he/she is looking for, and a logical next step is to start categorizing these search results by those items certain search results have in common.

The basic concept is the same with all search engines delivering categorized search results – instead of returning a single very long list of prioritized search results, these engines add a second layer of interpretation to their search results. Each search engine has a different name for this additional layer of search results information, but again, the basic concept is the same – in addition to returning a single long list of search results, these search engines also “group” or “categorize” the search results first by their relation to one another, then by the priority each result has earned within its assigned category.

Two of the best examples of this style of search results are provided by these second tier search engines:

Teoma.com (owned by Ask.com)

Yippy.com (originally Clusty.com)

The latest iteration of this concept is Yippy.com and provides a good way to demonstrate what clustering, as this search engine terms it, is all about.

1. Go to yippy.com

2. In the search box enter the term “cars” without the quotation marks

3. Perform the search

Now let’s take a close look at the search results returned. First, you’ll notice that there are A LOT of search results returned for this search term – over 21 MILLION Web pages in the Yippy search index have some level of relevance to the term “cars”, and this search index is small compared to the indices of the major search engines like Google.

What’s REALLY interesting about this search results page is what’s in the LEFT column – “clusters” or categories of search results. Click on the first category and you’ll see that there are actually sub-categories listed below the major cluster.

Doesn’t this search results concept make more sense than trying to present the 30 most relevant search results for a very general search term in the first 3 pages of search results? The categories are designed to help direct the searcher down the most relevant search path by presenting the searcher with the next most logical search paths to follow. In essence, the search engine has added the next most logical keywords to the initial search word (“cars” becomes “cars reviews”, “cars model”, etc.) and presented them as categories to help the searcher keep “drilling down” into the search results.

The real trick to presenting categorized search results is to make the categories presented for a given search term the next most logical search paths for that term. This is no small feat and is why categorized search has not taken off sooner, but as the search algorithms get better, the ability to present a set of relevant categoried search results continues to improve.

How does this search concept of categorizing search results relate to optimizing YOUR Web site pages? I suggest that as you perform your search engine optimization process, you take a look at the search results in one of these categorizing search engines for your keyword search phrases. In particular, you should note what major categories you want YOUR optimized pages to appear in, and then make sure that the category names used in the search results are included in your “on the page” optimization efforts.

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