Making Search Sticky

EoExchange powers subject-specific search engines for a variety of web sites, such as American Banker and Red Herring. Now the company has announced page monitoring tools that can be integrated into those results. Monitoring offers real benefits to web searchers and perhaps suggests a new way for the major search sites to encourage “stickiness” among their own visitors.

The idea of being sticky came about during the big portal hype of 1997. The major search engines had a problem. Many people came to them, searched and departed — without taking actions that helped earn the search engines money, such as clicking on banner ads or e-commerce links. To solve this, the search engines began adding features designed to keep their visitors “sticking” around. Free home page building options, stock tracking areas and web-based email services are just some of the many features that were added.

These new features transformed the major search engines into portals, the places where many people start their web journeys, if they leave at all. For instance, those with Yahoo Mail may check in to the site several times per day without departing. Similarly, those who search and then leave may return relatively soon to check on their stock prices, look for new email, etc.

Unfortunately, none of these sticky options have especially benefited those searching for information, other than to keep the search engines from going out of business, of course. Indeed, some people have even felt the addition of sticky features has reduced the effectiveness of search services. But the elegant way EoExchange has integrated page monitoring alongside searching will make you wish all search engines had sticky features like this.

To explain, I’ll use the EoExchange’s own Business & Technology Research Center, which serves as demonstration site for the new monitoring features. Do a search for “microsoft anti-trust case,” and at the top of the results page will be an option that says “Monitor these search results.” If you’ve opened a free monitoring account, then you can click on that link to add these results to your monitoring list. After that, anytime they change, you’ll be informed via email.

Even better are the “monitor this page” options that appears under each listing. By selecting them, you can add monitoring of any individual page to your list. Of course, you may not know that you want to monitor a page until you’ve viewed it. That’s OK — when you click on a link, the page will be framed so that a window with monitoring options appears above it.

I don’t like framed windows like this, but they can easily be removed by using the “exit to site” button in the top right of the frame. However, doing so takes away the option to add new pages to your monitoring list. In about a month, you’ll be able to add a page monitoring button from EoExchange to your browser’s toolbar. That’s a perfect solution, allowing you to easily add sites to your list without a clunky interface getting in the way.

At the Research Center, you may have noticed there were four tabs above the search box. By default, the Directory tab was selected, allowing you to search the web. Select the My Monitor tab, and you’ll see all the pages or search results you are monitoring. You can change settings, organize individual pages into folders, add new pages to monitor and so on. A history of changes is also available, and there are even wonderful little illustrated guides to give you an idea of where in each page alterations have occurred.

You can start monitoring now by opening an account at the Research Center or at EoExchange-owned Javelink. However, at either place, you’ll be limited to 20 pages. In contrast, the limit should be much higher for those who open accounts through one of EoExchange’s partners, when they begin to add monitoring in the coming months.

While none of these partners yet have a My Monitor tab, you may find two other important tabs in their EoExchange-powered search areas. Reports gives you access to selected company information, which has been assembled by EoExchange editors. Marketplace lets you scan through analyst reports that are not available for free on the web, but which may still be of interest.

This will sound similar to Northern Light, which lets you search the web and through its “Special Collection” index of high-quality articles from thousands of periodicals at the same time. Special Collection documents can generally be purchased for between US $1 and $4. In contrast, don’t be surprised if the documents discovered in Marketplace cost in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Clearly, Marketplace won’t be for the average web searcher. But it does offer a great way for those with budgets to discover research reports you may not be aware of. It might even be the case that in the future, report prices might come down, if the research groups and others who produce these reports are available to reach out and sell to a wide audience.

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