Remember meta tags? They were an early attempt to establish a taxonomy for web pages. These are the keywords… this is the author… this is the date… etc etc. Abused beyond parody, the search has been on ever since for a way to decipher those signals from natural elements within a page. The principle behind meta tags was sound – it was just that they were such an obvious target that they were rendered useless within days.
You can see it in the flesh in Google Base or whatever the hell they’re calling it these days. They’ve identified a taxonomy for products which they can use to structure their results. To you and me, that means a load of database columns that you have to fill in but to Google it’s an important way for them to determine rankings. Showing items in price order is only possible because all products share a common taxonomy.
Now on the regular schmo version of the web, populated by blogs, semi-literate forums, flash microsites and a billion other formats, establishing a taxonomy is very difficult. But among the more significant and lasting changes in the main Google SERPs over the last 18 months has been the prevalence of news results, maps, sitelinks, localised results and product feeds into the main results as part of blended search.
All of these are evidence of how Google is attempting to create a taxonomy for web content.
Continues @ Taxonomy and Search.
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