Sunday, June 21, 2009

Intention in search

One massive obstacle to serving up decent search results in a search engine is trying to understand the intention behind the search. The majority of searches undertaken are 1-2 terms e.g. hypertension, diabetes, prostate cancer, migraine triptans. In the latter it might seem obvious they are interested in the therapeutics efficacy of triptans in the treatment of migraine. However, they might be interested in side-effects, prognosis etc.

It's a tough challenge.

In the new TRIP we're proposing two 'features' to help us deliver even better results:

  • Geolocation. There are lots of tools out there that can tell us where our users are from. So why not leverage that information to improve the search results. If you're from the USA, why not boost content that is USA specific? I'm thinking mainly of guidelines, if you're from the UK you'd want to see guidance from NICE or CKS ahead of say the New Zealand Guideline Group.
  • Specialism. When we release the new TRIP we're going to significantly boost the My-TRIP functionality to make it really worthwhile for people to register and use TRIP while signed-in. One aspect will be to allow users to show us what speciality they belong to. This will help is a similar way to geolocation in that we can boost speciality specific content. Therefore, if you're a cardiologist content from the European Society of Cardiology will be boosted, in addition content from primary research journals such as Heart and the American Journal of Cardiology will feature more highly.

So, we hope to benefit from a users location and specialism to serve better content, if anyone can think of anything else - feel free to let me know!

1 comment:

Martin said...

The geo-location trick will work fine and i really like the idea. I propose that you have a 2-stage process: 1. continent-level, 2. country-level (being from germany, I know that I won't find german content in TRIP - but I might prefer european to american guidelines...)

How do you indentify specialists without user interaction?