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Deeper Research With Surfcanyon.com

Posted on 5.28.2008

Does it seem like researching topics, competitors, and your own personal interests at popular search engines like Google, Yahoo! and MSN Live is too cumbersome? The same results time and time again? Maybe it's time to look at SurfCanyon.com, an application for Internet Explorer and Firefox that "accelerates the search process".

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Understanding what users actually want (called "intent" in information retrieval) when they conduct a query on search engines is a major challenge. As more websites come online and more pages get indexed, the search engines algorithm's are increasingly unprepared to serve the results that users actually want, especially in a "long-tail" environment where two and three word phrases are the norm.

Surf Canyon alleviates this problem by extracting insight from post-query behavior signals, as the search is being conducted, and then exploiting the intelligence immediately to enable users to find relevant information buried in the result set. The simplest explanation might be just that the solution "reorganizes" information on search results.

The application changes the very nature of the search results page. Rather than being a static list of documents deemed by an algorithm to be the most relevant for a query, the search results page becomes an active participant in the process of resolving the user's information needs.

How Surf Canyon works:
Once installed, when users go to Google, Yahoo! or MSN and enter a search, they'll see Surf Canyon's bull's eyes next to the search results (see below). Clicking on one, or on a result, will trigger the technology to make "instantaneous relevancy" calculations in order to present recommended search results, which are dug out from subsequent pages of the result set.

Although my testing has been limited in terms of time, I've found the tool quite innovative and helpful. Definitely a value when it comes to digging deeper with your research.

Search results With Surf Canyon Application Installed

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