Monday, May 15, 2006

Helping Google Help You - Google Co-op Explained

"Google Co-op is a community of organizations, businesses, and individuals working together to help improve Google search. The benefit to you as a Google user is new ways to quickly refine your searches to find what you're looking for more quickly."
- http://www.google.com/coop/docs/faq_users.html

We posted on this a few days ago under our post "Of Course- More Google News..." but I feel this service or "Co-op" as it's called could use a more user friendly explanation. So in an attempt at doing this let us imagine the fictitious characters of Johnny and Joey.
Johnny knows everything about Web Marketing and Joey knows everything about the Worldwide Wrestling Federation (WWF).

Johnny labels all his favorite web marketing resource web pages and Joey labels all his favorite WWF pages.

One day Joey decides to start a blog about his favorite wrestlers. And Joey knows that Johnny is a web marketing guru so he "subscribes" to Johnny's labels. Now when Joey performs a search for web marketing topics to help promote his new blog a set of labels appear at the top of the search results list. These labels are Johnny's. And when Joey clicks on these labels he gets a "filtered" search return list that is influenced by what Johnny thinks are quality web pages.

And this works both ways. When Johnny wants to know about legendary wrestler Rick Flair to impress co-workers he can subscribe to Joey's labels giving him access to all the pages that Joey thinks are important in to the WWF.

Basically, it lets users help organize the web by labeling pages where they feel they are knowledgeable. And by subscribing to labels of friend's, trusted colleagues, or industry experts you can have a much more accurate search experience.

So how do you start labeling pages? There are two ways and you can submit here.

  • Upload using XML or TVS formats*

  • Uploading "Contexts"*

Formats for submitting URLS*:

  • A single page

  • All URLs beginning with www.y.com/

  • All URLs that begin with www.y.com/ and contain the word "kites"

  • All URLs that begin with www.y.com/ and contain the words "kites" and "fly"

What makes a good label?*
"A good label complements the abilities of Google search to help users find relevant documents." Google has identified a few labels to consider:

AUDIENCE: "This page is written for ____".
SOURCE TYPE: "The author of this page can be categorized as ____".
DOCUMENT TYPE: "The contents of this page and others like it are called ____".
SUBJECT: "This page is about ____".

Problem: many words can have the same meaning so which one to choose?
Solution: Choose one "that will be meaningful for the average user."

Problem: one word can mean many things.
Solution: Choose words with the most obvious meanings.

Another major concern is naming conventions and punctuation. On this Google says:

  • Label names should be all lowercase.

  • Punctuation and conjunctions ("and", "or") should be reduced to "_". The phrase "warnings and recalls" becomes the label name "warnings_recalls". The phrase "tests/procedures" becomes the label name "tests_procedures". Etc.

  • Label names should be as short as possible. On the search results page, labels may be truncated to save space, particularly if a URL has many labels.

Summery: One could see this as a way for users to create there own "mini-search engines". And Google allows you to get as detailed as you want. A Co-op participant can simply help with Existing Topics (easiest) or create entirely New Topics (advanced).

To get started you'll need a Google account and an interest in improving the world of search.

*See Advanced Instructions here: http://www.google.com/coop/docs/guide_topics.html

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