Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Use Keywords - Really!

Several site users have reported getting really weird results for certain queries. A search for "linux" turns up the Batman Begins DVD. A search for "blog" turns up a Bloc Party DVD. A search for "Jakob Nielsen" returns a Danish-language "gritty and frank coming-of-age drama". A search for "Matthew Haughey", an author of several technology books, who was kind enough to link to the site, turns up a Golden Girls DVD collection.

Here's what's going on. As you may know, MyBigRiver.com relies on Amazon.com's Web Service API to return results. When no keyword is entered, the Amazon search engine performs a search of all of Amazon.com. Which makes sense, except that for reasons completely unknown to me, it doesn't return the same results that a regular Amazon.com search would. I can't find any documentation or exact explanation of how this works, but I've deduced two things. 1) A full-catalog (or as Amazon calls it, "blended") search, skews heavily toward DVD's. 2) There appears to be some kind of "spell-checking" going on when doing a full-catalog search, that can't be turned off. Hence the "blog" -> "bloc" connection.

The solution is simple. In all of these cases, adding the appropriate keyword returns a much more reasonable "best guess". Also, keep in mind that MyBigRiver.com is geared more towards finding a link for something you already know about, rather than finding out what's available for a broad topic. So be sure to enter the complete title of something you're looking for (or as much of it as you can remember). You'll have a much better experience!

1 Comments:

Blogger Mark De Carvalho said...

To fix your problem with dvds always being the top results, take a look at the RelevanceRank field that is returned in the xml for each index. You can order the results using that.

11:20 AM  

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