The guys at Yahoo! Research have been working really hard. Yahoo! Mindset is a great example of their efforts. This search engine, currently still in Demo version, is able to determine if a page has for primary goal to sell something (commercial) or if the goal is to present information only (informational).
They’re using machine learning technology to score web results, from -2: for a page that is most commercial, to +2: for a page that is most informational.
For example, if you do a search for “dell laptop”, by default, you will see dell.com as number 1 result. However, if you scroll the slider to the very right that is “researching”, you’ll get a page about Linux on Dell, a page that’s indeed 100% informational.
If you set the slider to the very left: “shopping” , the first page is commercial only…but it’s not about “dell laptop”, it’s a page about “dell laptop memory cards”.
Well, it’s still in beta version, so we cannot blame them for now. But the technology is actually very interesting.
For SEOs, if search engines are going to use that kind of technique – at least Yahoo! – that would mean that if we want to attract all kind of people to a site, we have to build pages that are informational only, in addition of commercial pages. Plus, if the user can change how the results should appear, that would mean that we won’t be able to tell for sure what our rankings are.
I’m looking forward to seeing how this project goes.