27 April 2005

Tracking search engine quirks: Demonstrating the benefits of color changes in aggregators to track blog-content-updates

I’ve noticed something unusual with the search engines.

I’m going to outline in general what I’ve been noticing. Check back in a few days for some more examples and links.

Yahoo Blog Links

First, with Yahoo. Have you ever searched with a key phrase, and found a perfect site? Or so you thought.

Usually, when I click on a specific link, I like to go to that content. Generally this works: The link that I get connects me to that content.

But occasionally I see the opposite: I ask for content, get a link to specific blog spots, but I get taken not to the content, but to the covering page.

General Example:

  • Type in a phrase,
  • Get a search return for a specific blog
  • Click on that link
  • But here’s the strange part: Instead of getting taken to the blog-spot, you get taken to the main covering page for the blog.

    In other words, rather than getting the individual blog-link which was related to the search term, you get an archive or the general link for the page.

    I’d rather get what I was searching for: The exact blog-link for that content, not the home page for the blog, or the archive.

    I don’t know if this is a blog-search engine integration thing. But what I do know is that the specific phrase that I’m entering is triggering a response in a blog-spot; but when I choose the item from the menu I don’t get taken to the item that triggered the original search.

    Google Images

    Second, Google Images. Have you ever typed in a phrase in images, gotten a specific image return, and then you click on that image, hoping to get taken to the image on the webpage where it is located?

    I’ve done that, and I’m noticing the same type of thing that I’ve noticed with Yahoo above.

    Let's look at a General example, looking at ASCII images.

    Example:

  • Go to images
  • Enter a search string
  • Get an image that matches that search string: Click on the first one: www.sscnet.ucla.edu
  • Click on the image
  • Get to the page; now click on the icon or links

    Generally, what's supposed to happen is: We either go to the page that the link is on; or go to the image.

    I've seen a third result: Getting taken to the main blog-page, not the page where the link is on; or the site where the image is located, like this. There's no image; no reference to the page where the content is listed. Only shows the covering page for the blog. That's not helpful.

  • Future updates: I'll have to find an example where this occurs

    And, as above, this is where the strange thing happens: If you click on the image, you don’t get taken to the page or image you want. Rather, you get directed back to the home page for the blog.

    That doesn’t do me much good. I’d prefer to be taken, as with Yahoo above, to the specific blog-spot that contains the link to that image.

    Google blog links

    The next one involves Google-blogger integration. There's a link on my blog that goes to the feed chicklets.

    Take that URL out of the URL-Address line, and throw it into Google.

    Now click on the link [after the words] which read:

    "If the URL is valid, try visiting that web page by clicking on the following link mudtesting.blogspot.com/2005/04/known-problems-with-muds-tests-blog.html#P667_3690" Ref 


    If you click on that Google-provided link, and you'll get taken to a blogger page that says,
    "Not Found

    The requested URL was not found on this server. Please visit the Blogger homepage or the Blogger Knowledge Base for further assistance."
    Which is technically correct, but the platform is apparently incorrectly assuming that the link I want [which exists on a blog page] is a blog-spot entry, so it recombines the link in a blog-format, which is not correct.

    In other words, it appears to strip out blog-related code, recombines it with blogger, does a search on the "blog related URL" and says, "It's not a blog spot, there's nothing."

    Technorati redirection links

    Fourth, Technorati. For some strange reason things don’t show up all the time. This isn’t new.

    But what is strange, is the other day I was surfing around, and came across a link that seemed very familiar.

    Lo and behold, Technorati was indexing my links on my site. There before me was the link to my e-mail newsletter.

    Small problem, that link isn’t a blog, nor does it contain any content.

    Rather, the link to the far right, just above the orange chicklets, is merely a redirection from the chicklets, down to a broader discussion of what the e-mail newsletter is, and how to subscribe.

    Yet, I find this quite unusual. I’ve never specifically pinged Technorati with this link. Nor do I have any content at the link. It’s just a redirection, like an internal link.

    This is odd. Because for all the content that I would like to update, I have a hard time getting content updated through PingOMatic. Old, archived information doesn’t get updated through PingOMatic because it is buried [or whatever the reason is.]

    So, when I see this link specifically indexed in Technorati, and then contrast it with the difficulty of getting archived-content [and current content to post to tag-groups], I’m struck with the curious contrast.

    On one hand, I’ve got a fairly benign link that really doesn’t do anything other than tell people how to subscribe [which does get archived, linked, and indexed as if it were a blogspot; and then on the other hand, I’ve got actual content [stuff you can read, and has some real meat], that is difficult to get indexed.

    Quite a strange and curious contrast.

    Going forward

    What I’m going to do is use this blog-spot to keep track of some specific examples of searches that I do that illustrate the above problems.

    Instead of you having to check back every few days to see what’s updated, you can do two things, put on your calendar to recheck back in a few days or sign-up for a special-spot feed just for this spot.

    Here’s how to do each option:

  • E-mail notification to your aggregator

    If you want to get notified on a specific date to recheck back to this spot for updates, use this e-mail notify system. Just sign-up, send yourself a message, and on that specific day you’ll get an e-mail reminder sent to you to check back here on the day you want.

  • Spot Feed

    Alternatively, you can try out what I call a spot feed. This is a feed specifically for this blog-spot page. All you have to do is take this URI at this link, and then post it to your aggregator.


    Mud's Test Spot-Feed For this BlogSpot Page

    Subscribe


    When this page [and this page only] gets updates, those changes will get fed to you automatically. Most of the time this works. If you have a problem with this approach, leave a note in the comments and we can compare notes.


    XML Feed Color Codes

    Content changes report in aggregator


    Now that you’ve read the above scenario, you can see that there are going to be some changes coming.

    Wouldn’t t be nice if you could quickly spot the updates in your aggregator?

    Imagine opening up your Newsgator or Bloglines aggregator, seeing some content that you’ve already read, but then seeing some different colors.

    This would tell you that this is an old spot that you’ve already read; but there have been some changes and revisions. It’s not new, the information is old; but there have been some modifications that you can quickly see.

    In the ideal world, it would be nice if I could have two versions of this content. The first version is the original content; and the second version is the changes that you see since your last visit.

    Kind of like a text editor. The original version would be green; the latest updates since you last looked at that particular content blue.


    Relevancy to Ads in RSS Feeds

    There’s been some talk that Google is going to come out soon with Ads in the RSS feeds. We’ll see how that goes.

    As far as color coding of feed-content-changes, I think that the color coding would be helpful. Google Ads appear to be constructed so that when you get a new ad assigned to your content, the content reports as new, even through you’ve already read it.

    I’d rather know if the content that I’m getting is changed; or whether the reason that I keep seeing the same content is simply because the ad has changed.

    I think the color-coding system would be good to distinguish:

  • Is this content new;
  • Is this blog-spot old, but has a change; or
  • Am I getting this content again because the ad changed, and there’s no real change in content?

    Summary

    What I’ve done is give you a taste of the types of quirks I’ve noticed with the XML search tools: Linking to blogspots, images, and internal links.

    But this spot also serves as an example for how content changes could be easier to track in an aggregator.

    Right now, if you know that a specific blog is going t have changes in the future, there’s not a ready way to tag that blog for your convenient return. Rather, you kind of have to go through some additional steps.

    Ideally, what would be nice is a quick flagging system that you could, in one step, mark on your aggregator to highlight this content on a specific day.

    Think of this as integrating your desktop calendar, your aggregator, browser, and linking tools with your bookmarks.

    Ideally, it would be a simple button in the aggregator-window, sort of like what we see when we have a button-option in a browser or wordprocessor.

    Ideally, it would be nice to have a simple tool that we could simply flag as an item that we wanted to visit on a specific day, and then the aggregators would show us with color changes, on that future day, what changes have occurred since our last content review.

    When you come back and visit this site again, ask yourself: Would you rather have a color coding system to help out?

    Not to worry, I plan on making some color-annotations so that you’ll know what’s been changed since this original content.


    LEGAL NOTICE


    Creative Commons License

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

    You may not copy any of this work to promote a commercial product on any site or medium in the universe.

    If you see this work posted on a commercial site, it violates the creative commons license; and the author does not endorse the commercial product.

    Free to use for non-commercial uses. Link to this original blogspot and cite as .


    -- This is the end of the content --
  • I’ve noticed something unusual with the search engines.

    I’m going to outline in general what I’ve been noticing. Check back in a few days for some more examples and links.

    Yahoo Blog Links

    First, with Yahoo. Have you ever searched with a key phrase, and found a perfect site? Or so you thought.

    Usually, when I click on a specific link, I like to go to that content. Generally this works: The link that I get connects me to that content.

    But occasionally I see the opposite: I ask for content, get a link to specific blog spots, but I get taken not to the content, but to the covering page.

    General Example:

  • Type in a phrase,
  • Get a search return for a specific blog
  • Click on that link
  • But here’s the strange part: Instead of getting taken to the blog-spot, you get taken to the main covering page for the blog.

    In other words, rather than getting the individual blog-link which was related to the search term, you get an archive or the general link for the page.

    I’d rather get what I was searching for: The exact blog-link for that content, not the home page for the blog, or the archive.

    I don’t know if this is a blog-search engine integration thing. But what I do know is that the specific phrase that I’m entering is triggering a response in a blog-spot; but when I choose the item from the menu I don’t get taken to the item that triggered the original search.

    Google Images

    Second, Google Images. Have you ever typed in a phrase in images, gotten a specific image return, and then you click on that image, hoping to get taken to the image on the webpage where it is located?

    I’ve done that, and I’m noticing the same type of thing that I’ve noticed with Yahoo above.

    Let's look at a General example, looking at ASCII images.

    Example:

  • Go to images
  • Enter a search string
  • Get an image that matches that search string: Click on the first one: www.sscnet.ucla.edu
  • Click on the image
  • Get to the page; now click on the icon or links

    Generally, what's supposed to happen is: We either go to the page that the link is on; or go to the image.

    I've seen a third result: Getting taken to the main blog-page, not the page where the link is on; or the site where the image is located, like this. There's no image; no reference to the page where the content is listed. Only shows the covering page for the blog. That's not helpful.

  • Future updates: I'll have to find an example where this occurs

    And, as above, this is where the strange thing happens: If you click on the image, you don’t get taken to the page or image you want. Rather, you get directed back to the home page for the blog.

    That doesn’t do me much good. I’d prefer to be taken, as with Yahoo above, to the specific blog-spot that contains the link to that image.

    Google blog links

    The next one involves Google-blogger integration. There's a link on my blog that goes to the feed chicklets.

    Take that URL out of the URL-Address line, and throw it into Google.

    Now click on the link [after the words] which read:

    "If the URL is valid, try visiting that web page by clicking on the following link mudtesting.blogspot.com/2005/04/known-problems-with-muds-tests-blog.html#P667_3690" Ref 


    If you click on that Google-provided link, and you'll get taken to a blogger page that says,
    "Not Found

    The requested URL was not found on this server. Please visit the Blogger homepage or the Blogger Knowledge Base for further assistance."
    Which is technically correct, but the platform is apparently incorrectly assuming that the link I want [which exists on a blog page] is a blog-spot entry, so it recombines the link in a blog-format, which is not correct.

    In other words, it appears to strip out blog-related code, recombines it with blogger, does a search on the "blog related URL" and says, "It's not a blog spot, there's nothing."

    Technorati redirection links

    Fourth, Technorati. For some strange reason things don’t show up all the time. This isn’t new.

    But what is strange, is the other day I was surfing around, and came across a link that seemed very familiar.

    Lo and behold, Technorati was indexing my links on my site. There before me was the link to my e-mail newsletter.

    Small problem, that link isn’t a blog, nor does it contain any content.

    Rather, the link to the far right, just above the orange chicklets, is merely a redirection from the chicklets, down to a broader discussion of what the e-mail newsletter is, and how to subscribe.

    Yet, I find this quite unusual. I’ve never specifically pinged Technorati with this link. Nor do I have any content at the link. It’s just a redirection, like an internal link.

    This is odd. Because for all the content that I would like to update, I have a hard time getting content updated through PingOMatic. Old, archived information doesn’t get updated through PingOMatic because it is buried [or whatever the reason is.]

    So, when I see this link specifically indexed in Technorati, and then contrast it with the difficulty of getting archived-content [and current content to post to tag-groups], I’m struck with the curious contrast.

    On one hand, I’ve got a fairly benign link that really doesn’t do anything other than tell people how to subscribe [which does get archived, linked, and indexed as if it were a blogspot; and then on the other hand, I’ve got actual content [stuff you can read, and has some real meat], that is difficult to get indexed.

    Quite a strange and curious contrast.

    Going forward

    What I’m going to do is use this blog-spot to keep track of some specific examples of searches that I do that illustrate the above problems.

    Instead of you having to check back every few days to see what’s updated, you can do two things, put on your calendar to recheck back in a few days or sign-up for a special-spot feed just for this spot.

    Here’s how to do each option:

  • E-mail notification to your aggregator

    If you want to get notified on a specific date to recheck back to this spot for updates, use this e-mail notify system. Just sign-up, send yourself a message, and on that specific day you’ll get an e-mail reminder sent to you to check back here on the day you want.

  • Spot Feed

    Alternatively, you can try out what I call a spot feed. This is a feed specifically for this blog-spot page. All you have to do is take this URI at this link, and then post it to your aggregator.


    Mud's Test Spot-Feed For this BlogSpot Page

    Subscribe


    When this page [and this page only] gets updates, those changes will get fed to you automatically. Most of the time this works. If you have a problem with this approach, leave a note in the comments and we can compare notes.


    XML Feed Color Codes

    Content changes report in aggregator


    Now that you’ve read the above scenario, you can see that there are going to be some changes coming.

    Wouldn’t t be nice if you could quickly spot the updates in your aggregator?

    Imagine opening up your Newsgator or Bloglines aggregator, seeing some content that you’ve already read, but then seeing some different colors.

    This would tell you that this is an old spot that you’ve already read; but there have been some changes and revisions. It’s not new, the information is old; but there have been some modifications that you can quickly see.

    In the ideal world, it would be nice if I could have two versions of this content. The first version is the original content; and the second version is the changes that you see since your last visit.

    Kind of like a text editor. The original version would be green; the latest updates since you last looked at that particular content blue.


    Relevancy to Ads in RSS Feeds

    There’s been some talk that Google is going to come out soon with Ads in the RSS feeds. We’ll see how that goes.

    As far as color coding of feed-content-changes, I think that the color coding would be helpful. Google Ads appear to be constructed so that when you get a new ad assigned to your content, the content reports as new, even through you’ve already read it.

    I’d rather know if the content that I’m getting is changed; or whether the reason that I keep seeing the same content is simply because the ad has changed.

    I think the color-coding system would be good to distinguish:

  • Is this content new;
  • Is this blog-spot old, but has a change; or
  • Am I getting this content again because the ad changed, and there’s no real change in content?

    Summary

    What I’ve done is give you a taste of the types of quirks I’ve noticed with the XML search tools: Linking to blogspots, images, and internal links.

    But this spot also serves as an example for how content changes could be easier to track in an aggregator.

    Right now, if you know that a specific blog is going t have changes in the future, there’s not a ready way to tag that blog for your convenient return. Rather, you kind of have to go through some additional steps.

    Ideally, what would be nice is a quick flagging system that you could, in one step, mark on your aggregator to highlight this content on a specific day.

    Think of this as integrating your desktop calendar, your aggregator, browser, and linking tools with your bookmarks.

    Ideally, it would be a simple button in the aggregator-window, sort of like what we see when we have a button-option in a browser or wordprocessor.

    Ideally, it would be nice to have a simple tool that we could simply flag as an item that we wanted to visit on a specific day, and then the aggregators would show us with color changes, on that future day, what changes have occurred since our last content review.

    When you come back and visit this site again, ask yourself: Would you rather have a color coding system to help out?

    Not to worry, I plan on making some color-annotations so that you’ll know what’s been changed since this original content.


    LEGAL NOTICE


    Creative Commons License

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

    You may not copy any of this work to promote a commercial product on any site or medium in the universe.

    If you see this work posted on a commercial site, it violates the creative commons license; and the author does not endorse the commercial product.

    Free to use for non-commercial uses. Link to this original blogspot and cite as .


    -- This is the end of the content --
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