Tag Archives: search

Local and mobile

Location-based searching adapts a search to your geographic location. This post analyses Yahoo Mobile Search and China’s booming mobile industry.

Local intent and concept

A large amount of searches have local intent even if they do not have locations included within a search query. “Chinese cuisine [city]”, for instance, suggests that the searcher wants Chinese food places in [city]. “Weather”, conversely, does not contain a city but it is unlikely a searcher wants weather information for North Korea. Search engines must calculate if all queries have local intent.

Yahoo! Search for mobile delivers geo-specific content by the following 3 steps:

  • Analyses the concept and the intent of a query;
  • Search execution plan is produced which optimises the concept and intent of a query. This query is mixed with various categories, including, for example, web, news, photos and user-generated content, such as, Yahoo Answers;
  • Search results are brought together from various categories and reorganised in a manner appropriate to a query. This reorganisation means a blended SERP is constructed.
Mobiles offer location-specific locations.

Photo of a mobile pinpointing a specific location. From Nahid Giga.

Why are mobile phones popular in China?

The Chinese government has supported the development of mobile phones by implementing the State Council Policy of 1999 entitled State Affairs Development File No. [1999]-5 (MII, 2005). Government legislation and the high number of people and manufacturers means that mobile phones are popular in China — the largest country of people with mobile phones.

Of China’s population of 1,349,585,838 persons there are 1,150,000,000 active subscription service users. This means 85.21% of the population have mobile phones. In terms of mobile devices China is the world’s biggest market.

Mobiles and location

Since mobile devices are packed with various technologies, for example GPS and WiFi, your location is more precise compared to, say, desktop computers. Exact locations are good for local searchers. Search engines, however, need to calculate if a searcher has or has not got local intent within every query. This area of technology is still developing. But marketers need to know about local searches in order to create local SEO campaigns, for instance.

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  1. Chang, C. Wang, F. and Fu, H. (2009) A strategic analysis of the mobile telephone industry in Mainland China. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management. 20(4) pp. 489–499
  2. Lu, Y. Peng, F. Wei, X. and Dumoulin, B. (2010) Personalize web search result with user’s location. SIGIR ’10 July 19–23. pp. 763 — 764
  3. Reuters. (2013) China’s mobile subscribers up 1.2 pct at 1.15 bln in March. [Online] [Accessed on 03rd October 2013]
  4. Yi, J. Maghoul, F. and Pedersen, J. (2008) Deciphering mobile search patterns: A study of Yahoo! Mobile search queries. World Wide Web Conference Committee (IW3C2). pp. 257–266

How do we carry out a web search?

Keywords are fundamental to web search engines because keyword searching is required for all search engines.

Four ways in which we browse*

Electronic search
We search electronic resources, such as, catalogs, magazines or websites, for instance, in order to find information that meets our information need.
Physical search
In order to find something out we look up physical resources, for example, books or leaflets.
Serendipity browsing
Traditionally speaking serendipity browsing refers to finding information within a library. The idea, which can be applied to the whole web today, is that if you know one item is good then you can find similar items based on this original item. So “related searches” or “similar items” are modern web search engine examples of serendipity browsing.
Information task switch
This involves a searcher switching between electronic and physical resources to find information. For example, reading a book and using a web search engine to find out more about a topic you have just read.

*Adapted from (Spink 2003:344) who also found that we are likely to carry out many searches within one search. Carrying out an actual web search is not just a simple and quick task because it is comprised of several quick-fire queries.

Popular web search engines

Popular web search engines. Source.

Why do we browse and ask for more information?

There are several ‘triggers‘ which make us want to find out more information. The first is breaking a search down into tasks, for example, find out if it is BBQ weather at the weekend (task one) then asking a navigational query for “Tesco” to buy things for a BBQ (task two). Secondly, whenever we search and we read something interesting this triggers another search task. Thirdly, if our search results have something unexplained within them then we need to change our search to find this information out. Fourthly, and finally, if there is something missing from our overall search plan then this triggers a need to fill in this missing gap.

Digital marketing and search

Search engines allow your website to be found but you have a very short window in which to grab attention. Designing smart, clear and usable technologies will help make this browser find information or, even better, convert.

Do you ask for numerous search queries within one search? Tweet Gerald.

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  • Day, V.L. and Jeffries, R. (1993) Orienteering in an Information Landscape: How Information Seekers Get From Here to There. Interchi ’93. [issue, volume and page numbers missing]
  • Spink, A. (2003) Multitasking information behavior and information task switching: an exploratory study. Journal of Documentation. 69(1) pp. 336 — 351.

Easy ways to optimise your website

Overview: Optimising your website*

Appearance of search results
Create excellent titles, use a descriptive content-focused domain name and file name structure
Use the alt=”A photo of…” attribrute alongside short captions for every image
‘Content is king’
Focus on creating quality, up-to-date and unique content.

*Adapted from (Schwartz 2013: online).

For more tips read what can I do to improve my SEO.

The future of search*

  • Augmented reality
  • A variety of search engines
  • Mobile, localised search

*Adapted from (Mashable no date: online).

It is clear that search engines are becomming human-like programs. They can identify quality, relevance…. Optimising your website will allow you to rank well and allow your users to have a good user experience. Search engines still have a long way to go (i.e. identifying infringed copyright and displaying correct and maintaining up-to-date localised search results).

(Twitter) @GeraldMurphySEO
(WordPress) A blog about search engines. Search “gerald murphy seo”


  1. Mashable. (No date) Future of Search Series. [Online] [Accessed on 27th March 2013] http://mashable.com/category/future-of-search-series/
  2. Schwartz, B. (2013) Google’s 3 Steps To Optimizing Your Web Site (One Page Cheat Sheet). [Online] [Accessed on 27th March 2013] http://searchengineland.com/googles-3-steps-to-optimizing-your-web-site-one-page-cheat-sheet-151619

Page content and text

Sometimes organisations’ do not think that content is a high priority because it is not directly related to the bottom line profits (Anon no date: online). Having said that excellent content does lead to more hits which allows more products to be sold on an e-commerce website, for example. Thus content is related to profits, let alone an excellent user experience.

SEO: The role of page content

Effective content, comprised of keywords which flow freely through sentences and heading tags, plays a large part in any SEO campaign. Term frequency is determined by page content: The more times a keyword appears on a page the more likely that page is about that keyword. For this reason page content identifies what a webpage is about which, in turn, allows a searcher to find your website by using a search engine: SEO and page content are closely related.

Excellent page content also adds to the overall user experience. Excellent page content, for instance, can help a user find out key information or answer a question they wanted an answer for. So page content is vital for SEO.

Image of 'content is king'. SEO, references, blog posts and images help with excellent content.

Image of ‘content is king’. SEO, references, blog posts and images help with excellent content.

The search engine results’ page (SERP) viewpoint

Recently the SERP has started to by-pass the typical page description tag by opting for a snippet of text from the body of the text. In other words the search engine now ‘reads’ your webpage and makes note of the important terms on that page: Knowing what words appear and where (term location) allows the search engine to build up a picture of what your page is about.

How can I have excellent page content?

Content will vary, and should vary, to suit your target audience. Adapting the language you use is very important because it allows you to become a hit for a specific group of searchers. Excellent content is written to make complete sense on its own (i.e. sentences are clear and well-constructed), as well as, being comprised of suitable and specific keywords. Excellent page content allows the target audience to find out about a topic. Good research is vital to include specific details. You should consider asking (and answering) the following questions are you write (and read) the content you have just wrote:

  • What age range is your audience? Does the language/choice of words reflect this age range?
  • What are the most relevant keywords for [your topic]?
  • Are the sentences well-constructed?
  • Are the written paragraphs clear and well-constructed?
  • What is the point of this sentence / paragraph?
  • Would it be better to include an introduction, body of text and identify conclusions? Can any of these points be referenced?
  • Have you utilised HTML tags (e.g. heading 1 – 6, strong…) to allow the search engine to ‘read’ all your text?

Posted by: Gerald Murphy
(Twitter) @GeraldMurphySEO
(WordPress) A blog about search engines. Search “gerald murphy seo”


  1. Anonymous. (no date) Content is King for SEO. [Online] [Accessed on 03rd April 2013] http://tinyurl.com/cl9qtou

What are cookies?

Computer cookies are text files

The literature on cookies is fragmented. For example, AboutCookies.org (2012) is an official website which is endorsed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (UK) that recognises three types of cookies: permanent (persistent or stored) cookies, session (or transient) cookies and flash (Local Shared Object) cookies (Pinsent Masons no date: online). Whereas, other sources will argue that there are four types of cookies: session cookies, performance cookies, functionality cookies and targeting cookies (Rouse 2005: online).

The technology behind cookies is well understood. That is to say, cookies are comprised of text files which are sent from a Web server to a user’s browser (Peng 2000:150). The text within cookies can be altered to allow cookies to store unique information. For this reason, cookies can be used to identify a specific computer. Cookies cannot identify a particular person because several people might share the same computer.

However, researchers have identified other types of, and terms for, cookies:

HTTP cookies
HTTP cookies are the collective term which refers to the common types of cookies (i.e. session, performance, functionality and targeting cookies).
Flash cookies
Flash cookies, or Local Shared Objects, are used by websites that run Adobe Flash.
First part cookies
A first party cookie is a term used to identify a relationship a user has with a specific website.
Third party cookies
A third party cookie is a term used to identify a relationship a user has with a website they have not directly visited.

BBC (2012) concludes that cookies can only be accessed and amended by the server who sent it/them (online: no date).

Without cookies certain processes would become difficult to carry out. For example, an electronic commerce (e-commerce) website can allow one user to have several items in their basket and pay for these items in one process. Thus, cookies are useful for certain processes online.

However, these text files are not broken down, line by line to the end user and are often encoded (Pierson 2011:34; Wills & Zeljkovic 2011:53). Therefore, the exact extent to which cookies are used for in a search remains unknown. Specifically, cookies are used within a search, but their use of that search is not precisely known. As well as other methods of data collection (e.g. encoding of a Web address), cookies are used to track users (Wills & Zeljkovic 2011:53).

Search engines analyse user interactions just as a webmaster, for instance, would monitor and analyse the interactions of a client’s website (Aljifri and Navarro 2004:379). Unlike standard websites, search engines can easily record a person’s searches because they are providing a service (Aljifri and Navarro 2004:379).


  1. AboutCookies.org (2012) Cookies: Frequently Asked Questions. [Online] [Accessed on 21st December 2012] http://www.aboutcookies.org/Default.aspx?page=5
  2. Aljifri, H. Navarro, D, S. (2004) Search engines and privacy. Computers & Security. 23 (5) pp. 379 – 388.
  3. BBC. (2012) About cookies. [Online] [Accessed on 21st December 2012] http://www.bbc.co.uk/privacy/cookies/about/?source_url=/privacy/bbc-cookies-policy.shtml
  4. Peng, W. (2000) HTTP cookies – a promising technology. Online Information Review. 24(2) pp. 150 – 153
  5. Rouse, M. (2005) Transient cookie (session cookie). [Online] [Accessed on 21st December 2012] http://searchsoa.techtarget.com/definition/transient-cookie
  6. Wills, C, E. Zeljkovic, M. (2011) A personalized approach to web privacy: awareness, attitudes and action. Information Management & Computer Security, 19(1) pp.53 – 73

Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation (abbreviated as SEO) is the ability to find websites on the Web by searching for keywords. True SEO is focusing on organic searches because the results are all related to the term(s) that have been searched, rather than displaying Pay Per Click results. One of the latest developments is Academic SEO because it makes various formats (e.g. media, PDF etc.) easily found [1].

Using the correct keywords allows you to be found. If you are using the wrong keywords, you will not have a lot of hits.

How do people find my blog?

The best way is to learn some basic HTML. Put a title on every post, use headings on each post, make important words/terms in bold. This will also help scanners to read your blog! The image below should get you started on good HTML practices.

How to use HTML on a blog or website

How to use HTML on a blog or website

How do people find geraldmurphysearch?

A “gerald murphy manchester metropolitan university” search will direct you to this blog, but why?
Short answer: by following good use of HTML. The detailed answer: I have posted a post with my name which was enclosed in a heading 1 tag, and it has been inserted in a title tag, as well as being printed in bold (or strong).
This meant that search engines could interpret these words as being important. For example, a heading 1 tag indicates that these words are related to the body of the text. Whereas the title keywords indicate what the whole document is about: what is this post saying?

Use the WebMaster tools
The blog is registered with search engine bots (the programs which scan and read the HTML tags and content) via the web-master tools under the settings tap of WordPress (see image below). This means that bots visit this blog from time to time, doing a quick scan of what tags I have, and index them so people can search for them.
WordPress' Tools

Where to find the WebMaster settings on WordPress?

How do you improve your rankings?

Organic searches take a little time, but a good place to start is with your HTML. You don’t need to be a technie person to use HTML. HTML is just the start, one you write a post ask yourself:

How can I sum up this post using 5-10 words?

Write these words as tags. Next, ask yourself does the title tag sum up the whole post? Are the most important terms in the heading tag?

This post, for example, might be displayed for the following search terms “how to improve search engine optimisation rankings”. Hopefully you know why*?!


  1. Beel, J., Gipp, B., WildeAcademic, E. (2010) Search Engine Optimization (ASEO): Optimizing Scholarly Literature for Google Scholar & Co. [PDF available on this link]

* SEO is in the title tag (title of the post), “improve” and “rankings” are in a heading tags.