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Monday January 30, 2006 10:51 pm

Search Engines: Where Is Predictive Search?

Posted by Andru Edwards - Categories: Features, Internet

Predictive SearchIt is no secret that search engines have earned their way into the very core of Internet usage. Everyone has used Google, Yahoo!, or MSN Search. Sure, between those three and the virtual unending hoard of others out there, search results might be different, logos might be different, as might a few other small features. However, I have been thinking more and more about something I have started referring to as “predictive search” over the last couple of weeks.

Knowing that there are obviously a lot of limitations to the approach, wouldn’t it be convenient if, say, in the sidebar of a search results page, MSN Search predicted the result of the search you might perform next?

I know, that sounds a bit odd. How would a search engine predict the results of the next search you might perform, based on your original search? How is this useful? Allow me to provide a search query, and let’s run it through the scenario. For example:

Say, you search for the the term “king kong 98103”. Google Local might return with a list of theatres within a 10-mile radius of the 98103 zip code that are showing King Kong. That’s cool. Now, what if you glance over to the right hand sidebar, and see links like “Click here for restaurants near 98103” and “Click here for parking information” and links to night life if you want to do something like grab a drink after the movie. Even better, what if you are planning to take a significant other to the movie? You might see a link in the sidebar that reads “On a date? Click here for things to do in addition to watching a movie”.

There could even be things text boxes that you would fill in, where you put in the time I want to watch the movie, and then Google gives me back things to do, that don’t conflict with my original search, which is watching a movie. If I want to catch a movie at 7:00 PM, and Google it knows it lasts for 110 minutes, maybe it suggests something going on at 9:30 PM - that is knows is 5 minutes away from my theatre of choice - and gives me directions from the theatre to the event.

Obviously, local is the major place that this would work nicely. However, I am sure that “predictive search” could be applied well to research, as well as a myriad of other situations. It’s time for some further innovation in the search engine world. Displaying 1-20 of 4,382,084 results isn’t necessarily the best way to do things.

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