Dot Commentary: Smart Searching

Article From: Products Finishing, ,

Posted on: 11/1/2002

I love Google, I really do.

I love Google, I really do. It's the first place I turn when I'm looking for a recipe, an obscure baseball statistic, or,as was the case this morning, information on the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival.

You may be surprised when I tell you that Google, or any general search engine for that matter, is not always the best place to find finishing-related information on the Web.

I don't mean to pick on Google specifically. It's probably the single-best search engine out there right now. Unlike many of its competitors, Google has yet to sell out by compromising the integrity of its search results in an effort to make a buck.

So, if Google is so good, what's the problem? In a word, it's "context."

If you want search results (lots and lots of search results), Google is the place to go. But if you want relevance, you might be in for a big surprise.

Do me a favor right now and put this magazine down and skip on over to Google (www.google.com). Perform a search for the term "Faraday cage." If you are a powder coater, you probably know that Faraday cage is a problem that occurs when an invisible electrical screen prevents charged powder particles from reaching recesses.

Your search on Google should yield a very impressive 13,000+ results. The problem is that few of these results have much to do with the term as it is used in the finishing industry. In fact, not one of the first 20 search results has anything to do with finishing.

Now, go to PF Online and enter the same search term in our search engine. You'll notice that you get only 26 search results. Sure, 26 doesn't sound nearly as impressive as 13,000. But the difference is that EVERY ONE of these search results is relevant.

This issue isn't specific to the term "Faraday cage," nor is it specific to Google. Try going to a number of general search engines and perform some other searches for terms like "oven," "paint stripping" or "orange peel." In each case, I guarantee that you'll be assaulted with thousands of results, few of which have any relevance to the terms as they are used in our industry. Those same searches, when performed on PF Online, will reveal fewer, but far more relevant, results.

To be fair, there are some tactics you can employ when using general search engines to help yield more relevant results to your searches (for some tips, head over to http://www.google.com/help/basics.html). But why bother when you can go to a specialized site like PF Online and get immediate, relevant results from folks who specialize in the industrial finishing industry?

Is my analysis a little biased? Of course it is. I'll be the first to admit that I would love for you to use PF Online for ALL of your finishing-related search queries. But I also happen to believe that if getting the most relevant search results means that you opt to use one of our competitor's web sites (finishing.com, metalfinishing.com or ippmagazine.com to name a few), you should use the best tool for the task.

Of course, if you need to find a recipe for spicy three-bean texas chili, we probably can't help you with that.

 

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