By Forrester Research
Special to CNET News.com
March 24, 2003, 7:40AM PST
By Paul Sonderegger, Senior Analyst
Yahoo's acquisition last week of Inktomi's Web search technology signals a move to gain independence from Google. But to match Google's performance, Yahoo must modify the Inktomi engine to factor in editorial judgments when searching Web content.
Google's technology has a lock on how to find the most relevant Web content--analyzing hyperlinks. Yahoo has a directory of sites and pages that represent millions of editorial decisions about content relevance. To provide search results that can match or beat Google's, Yahoo must modify its new Inktomi engine to take full advantage of its directory. It should use this asset to do the following:
Expand people's queries. Searchers type one- to three-word queries that don't adequately describe their information needs. Yahoo can ease the problem this causes by spotting query terms that are also terms in the taxonomy. Then the engine can expand the query by adding terms that are commonly found in the documents in that category.
Present results in context. Yahoo already returns relevant categories with its search results, but it can do more. By exploiting category tags added at index time, Yahoo could group Web search results by category and present editor-selected examples from the directory to better help users make selections. In addition, subcategory headings could be used to filter the results. A person who searched for "reading primer" could sort the results to show only those that are software, only those that are books, or both, instead of having to select each subcategory as a discrete list.
© 2003, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change.