Images, previews and search results - how to attract bees to honey

Photo by Eric Ziegler
Much of the content in an enterprise intranet is documents. Documents of procedures, project plans, division and department policies, design document to, legal documents, etc. In fact this type of content completely overwhelms the content found related to corporate news, corporate communications and corporate policies. So how do you attract people to the content that is more important?

When people search for content, all content in the search results are not made equal and different techniques should be used to attract people to the content. One method is to provide an image or snippet of the actual content in the search results. Through semantic search, search should be able to determine which results should have an image, based on the quality of the snippet and the relative importance of the content. This technique means that not all search results would have an image snippet but rather a subset of the search results.

The two reasons why I came up with restricting images in the search results include:
  1. By only providing images for some content, the search engine can help drive people to specific content. For example, content that is growing in authority but does not have the highest authority score might have an image snippet provided.
  2. If all results had images, the search results would get over cluttered and the power of providing an image is actually a net negative, not a net positive.
To try to help the end user, I suggest that some images are provided and in other instances, the search results provides a way for people to click to get to a "preview" of the content. The image snippet would be a lower quality, less informative version of the preview. The images would attract employees to click the preview or go directly to the content, while the preview would allow people unsure if the content was what they were looking for a way to determine if the content is really what they were looking for.

And if you had not thought of it, the behavior of the image snippet and the viewing of the preview  can all feed into determining the best search results through authority and semantic methods.

This note was inspired by +David Amerland 's book, Google Semantic Search.