The big news for online publishers this week is Google Co-op, a new feature that is attempting to blend content subscription and reference models with the search engine paradigm. Google Co-op has two main components: topic maps and subscription tools. Publishers both amateur and professional are encouraged to submit content from their Web sites to Google Co-op with XML tags that make it easy for their content to be categorized in topic maps that appear above the main Google search results. When a user enters a search query on Google that matches a topic, a listing of subtopics that have tagged content available appears above normal search results. Clicking on one of these subtopics then displays a listing of search results relating to that subtopic - with tagged content appearing at the top of the list. Users can "subscribe" to search results from sites using Google Co-op XML tags. Results from these sites appear above Google's normal search results and below the topic map when that site's content matches a topic. Users "subscribe" to sites much in the same way that they would subscribe to an XML weblog feed, except that you subscribe to links instead of to delivered content; click once on a publisher's icon in a directory that Google provides and you're done... It's also possible to create subscription links to not only typical keywords but also very specific types of queries. For example, the technical documentation outlines how you can set up matches to queries such as "speed limit info for [place name]."
Google Co-op has the potential to be an extremely powerful tool for publishers - especially those providing premium content. It addresses the issue of what content people really want to see from professional publishers willing to support tagging versus "all the web" results fairly neatly. The subscription features in particular hold great potential. User-driven premium content aggregation has come to town, it appears, in a design that drives audiences to publishers' sites directly as well as to subscription databases....
In the meantime Google has managed to come up with an innovative approach to categorized search that compels publishers of all stripes to provide highly visible and usable metadata for their online content. In a sense Google Co-op is like an inside-out Google Base: rather than try to get publishers to deposit and categorize content in a place that may not offer its most valuable context Google instead has allowed content to stay in at home on the servers where publishers can manage its value most effectively. There are a number of rough edges to this new feature, as usual, but in sum has the potential to take the relationship between publishers, users and Web search engines to a whole new level of service. It also has strong implications for the enterprise search environment as well, as these same tags could be used in time to integrate internal and external content more effectively via Google Desktop-initiated searches. Content Blogger: Shore News Commentary 5/11/06
Posted by P. Kaufman at May 12, 2006 8:18 AM