How-to fail

Live published the most popular how-to searches of 2008 on their blog last week (US traffic only).

How-to searches must be hugely useful for search engine developers – especially those looking to improve their service with semantic technology.

If you can get your system to understand the logic of the expression ‘how to’ in a search string, you can more easily direct those surfers to wikis, encyclopedias and guides, and exclude other sources which may not be so useful for finding out about how to do things (especially where they feature the terms how and to separately within the body of their text).

Those companies who provide ‘solutions’ to these queries might also pay premium for that search traffic, where developers can show they understand the meaning of the query.

That said, last year’s list has some amusing (if unfortunate) results, what the Live blogger euphemistically called ‘unusual trends’.

Near the top of these results we have…

  • How to lose back fat

  • How to lose weight

Meanwhile, further on down the list…

  • How to brine a turkey

  • How to make gravy

Proof if any were needed that in hyperspace the left hand seldom knows what the right hand is doing.

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