Search Engine Optimisation event in Kensington, Day Two

 by Martin Belam, 29 October 2004

Yesterday was the second day of the Search Engine Optimisation event I attended in Central London.

Some of the things that stood out were the excellent presentation from Ken McGaffin about his Linking Matters Report. The key quote I pulled out was:

"The web is a web. It's made out of the links between people. You can't live in isolation on the web."

He also explained the "bow-tie theory" of the internet, which states that for any community of interest, 30% of the sites will form an inter-linking core, around which the rest will hover.

Another presentation I really enjoyed was Kristian Westerstråhle from Nokia, who outlined the incredible approach they have to applying metadata to their intranet. There were some very intelligent uses, like stopping the internal search indexing documents in "draft" or "expired" format. Their approach, of keeping the metadata in a content storage area away from either the CMS or the documents themselves meant that they could alter whole swathes of metadata, to reflect for example, organisational change, at the flick of a switch, without the document originators having to worry about it.

They also have a neat trick of allow content producers to flag up the content type they are producing, which includes the ability to designate a page as a "homepage" or a "content page". This is then used to help prioritise results. It is vital, since as Kristian explained, a search for "phone" on the Nokia intranet is going to generate hundreds of thousands of pages of results. However, the metadata allows the results to be refined to just those pages which have been designated important "home" pages. More information can be found at the Nokia Semantic Web Server.

I was also interested in Bill Oldroyd's presentation about the possibilities of federated search - concentrating particularly on a project called The European Library. This aims to launch early next year and provide a way to simultaneously search across the digital catalogues of many of Europe's National Library Collections, for the benefit of an estimated 255million users. It was certainly an ambitious project, and I don't envy their work in trying to get the interface right!

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