1 thing to improve web search

Web search engines have, in recent years, got better and better at returning relevant results. Can search engines enhance results even more?

Refinement improves web search

Search refinement allows search engine users to carry out a search within a search. Searching [fireworks], for example, would return hundreds of results. If however search engines had a refinement tool then search engine users would be able to look for other terms within the [fireworks] set, such as, [display] to return information on fireworks sites with the term display or [city] to find fireworks locally. Refinement improves the search experience.


Emotions and PageRank. Copyright reused but not modified from Wikipedia.

Why search refinement?

Web search engines need to cater to everyone; meaning beginners and advanced users should have a similar experience. Most search engines do not offer refinement because it is, often, seen as an advanced tool. Beginners, however, would understand the command “search within this search”. Search refinement should be implemented to improve web search.

Those who pay for information have the ability to easily refine results. Search refinement is a luxury web search tool and if presented correctly it can be easily used by beginners and advanced users alike.

Search refinement can also build up more trust for search engine users because there are subconscious thoughts of “I can search for any information”, or “If these results are not relevant I can dig deeper”.

One of the major problems with web search is the fact that most search engine users cannot formulate appropriate keywords in the first instance. Search refinement could, arguably, wrongly encourage people to search within a bad search. For search refinement to work at its optimum the first search needs to be correctly executed. Refinement does not improve keyword formulation.

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  1. Zuccala, A. Thelwall, M. Oppenheim, C. and Dhiensa, R. (2007) ‘Web intelligence analyses of digital libraries: A case study of the National electronic Library for Health (NeLH)’. Journal of Documentation. 63(4) pp. 558-589.

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