Friday, August 24, 2012

Keyword dreams!!

Some of you may know that I am somewhat of a sourcing geek. Well, last night I had a sourcing dream to prove it. I was dreaming about keywords. If that don't beat all. I can't have normal dreams like other people. I have to dream about search related stuff.

Anyway, I guess you'd like to know about my dream. In my dream I was having this discussion with other recruiters about what was more important to effective searching on the web. Whether it was Keywords, Boolean or the tools you used them on. I argued that keywords are such a big part of searching that it is easy to overlook how important they are to the search process. Without the use of keywords we wouldn’t be able to communicate with either databases or search engines effectively.

The other recruiters in my dream made strong cases for the use of boolean or the advanced knowledge of search engines and for strategies but I came out of my dream convinced that by mastering the use of keywords we advance the cause of our search far more than with any of the other items they argued for, after all, it was my dream right?

I thought I would present my case here, at least here I'm not really talking to myself, I hope. Anyway, my thought is that it is thru the use of keywords that we communicate to the search engine what information we intend to get out of it. But that is not where it ends. It is not as simple as typing your words on the search box and immediately finding your perfect candidate! Did you know that keywords are neither seen nor read by the search engine in the same that way we see or read them? To a search engine a keyword is just a string of characters. Using something like “@#$#&)”, or “7364639”, or “keyword” are all the same to a search engine. It can't distinguish between a string of symbols, numbers or actual letters.

It is difficult to get anything out of a conversation when the other party is taking your words and taking the meaning completely out of them. How do you expect to get good results out of a search string when you may now know how the search engines read your keywords.

Just think of it. A search engine doesn’t recognize that when you enter a word like “kids” that a good result might also be “children”. Remember to a search engine “kids” is just a string of characters. Instead it just matches each character in your keyword to bring only those results that include the word “kids”. Search engines typically compile a thesaurus like file/program to overcome this limitation. (I'm over simplifying here. It is an complex set of algorithms much more complex for me to understand!.) They use this file/program when the search string contains commonly used terms that are associated with our keyword; it then reflects them as a hit on your results. This gives us the impression that it’s searching what we intended to find. More commonly though this file/program displays associated words rather than synonymous terms. So rather than returning results based on your keywords it is returning those pages that have your keywords found within it as well as other pages that have any of those other words that are typically associated with your keyword.

A search engine looks for records that match the characters typed. That is to say, it will not read the word rather it will try to match the string of characters together in its listing of indexed terms. To understand this is crucial to understanding the results returned by the engine. A database or search engine doesn’t see either meaning or the ideas represented by the words or even an implied relationship to other thoughts or ideas from your words no more that it could identify sarcasm. Knowing this puts a different spin on keyword doesn't it.

There are other reasons for my belief that keywords are far more important than either boolean, advanced field commands, or any other tool or strategy. Yet I can't help but feel that it is the most often overlooked part of our search. Not enough time is spent on understanding how keywords are being process and techniques we can use to drive better results.

Well I'm going back to take a nap.Now that this is out of my head, maybe I can catch some zzzzz's. Hope you enjoyed by ramblings.