Monday, August 15, 2005

Search Strategies

I've been a big fan of Google search for a while. I'm only a moderate fan of the company. Gmail is nice, Froogle does nothing for me, etc. But lately I've become discontent. I've cheated on Google with other search engines. I LOATHE Google desktop search. I find the way it presents results to be terribly inefficient for me. Lookout is a much better tool for the way I use desktop search. So I'm giving MSN's desktop search a second try. The first try didn't persuade me to dump Lookout, even though Lookout is a core part of MSN's desktop search,  but I'm back for second bite at the apple. An I've seen some definite improvements from the last time.
But I've been playing with Clusty lately. Clusty clusters the results into categories. So, if I'm searching for "Amazon", I would get groups of search results around, tall strong women, a river in South America, rainforests, etc. and I can then limit my search to the relevant category. Microsoft has been playing catch up to Google in a number of areas for a while now. This is an area that would make me consider switching to MSN search. There's not much visible evidence that Google is working on this, still it wouldn't surprise me if they were. But, if MS could beat them to the punch, I'd switch.  When I'm searching common terms, in particular for support, I get really tired of wading through the 30 shopping sites at the top of the search results. In many cases, I own the product, I want software or updates or third parties info which starts on page 5.
A simple example, looking for info for my Audiovox smartphone inevitably leads to lots of, Cingular and similar links before I find forums, software etc. My perception is that search is broken again. It's getting harder to find what I'm looking for, not easier.Clusty doesn't feel like its there yet, but I like the direction it's going in. So how about it MSN? Are you ready to take the lead? I dare you to innovate here.

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