The real information within search.

Within information theory there are many types of data – data and information. Data consists of numbers or strings images collected together, but it may have no real value. By contrast information has value – ‘information’ is structured data from which conclusions can be drawn.

Information systems and databases become useful when they consider information and not just data. Large databases have been around now many decades and early in their history much research was done on optimisation techniques – especially the relationships between data – the structure.

structured information within search

With early versions of the Internet (such as the Janet network) work was done connecting documents of words together via the hypertext markup language. Much of this work was led by librarians and academics interested in linking documents and so this ‘searching’ was well structured.

Then came Internet search and Google, redefining search based on the PageRank or popularity algorithm. This was great at first and enabled information to be retrieved based on keyword matching and some kind of popularity score, but very little attention was paid to the structure of the information – its type and relationship to other data. One large part of the original hypertext markup was lost as search moved away from librarians (insistent on categorisation of anything and everything).

But this is likely to change as the volume of low grade information on the Internet increases. It is likely that Internet search will start looking at what was dropped from the initial ideas – and rethink how the relationships between data can be used. Indeed some research work, beta projects and small changes within Google search would suggest it is heading this way.

What impact does this have? It means forward thinking agencies that understand marketing will be building websites and website management systems that can take full advantage of changes to search algorithms.  Indeed recent changes within the architecture of the ExtraCMS are looking forwards towards websites being a quality resource of structured information, rather than simply providing content full of keywords. Successful Internet marketing is about being ahead of the search engines, not playing ‘catchup’.

Article by Rachel Cornish

Wednesday 5th June 2013

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