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The new version includes bolstered algorithms and relevance techniques designed to better understand user context, as well as paid inclusion features that aim to give content providers more control over content targeting.
Much of the development in Version 9 is aimed at gaining a better understanding of the human side of Web search, including user context and intent, according to Vishal Makhijani, vice-president and general manager of Inktomi's Web search business.
Going beyond understanding the Web in terms of algorithmic search elements such as crawling, ranking, and indexing, the future of Web search lies in unearthing information about users, he said.
"The next order of magnitude improvement in relevance is not going to come from tweaking algorithms or increasing horsepower, it is going to come by really understanding the user and getting smarter about user context and needs," Makhijani said.
Web Search 9 also focuses on the growing trend of paid inclusion. Unlike paid placement for search in which subscribers purchase top ranking for search results, paid inclusion allows subscriber content to be included in Inktomi's index and considered for relevancy, according to Ken Norton, director of marketing and product strategy at Inktomi.
"Paid inclusion is about being included in our index and having some control over your content in our index," he said. "Our primary obligation is to the user, and that means relevance, so you can't purchase position with us."
The Smart Summaries feature can analyse user intent in the query to return a contextual page summary, either generated by a human editor or customised by the content provider.
Another feature, Index Connect Geotargeting, lets paid inclusion advertisers target content to more than 30 global regions.
"This gives content providers a lot more control over how their content appears, which is great for them because it ultimately drives up ROI, and it is good for users because they get the most appropriate content per region," Norton said.
Version 9 also includes an XML Web services version of Inktomi's interface designed to allow portals and content providers to exchange information easily with the Inktomi search engine.
"With our XML Interface, partners can feed us the data and it is [sent] directly into our index via XML," Norton said.
Another new capability can recommend spelling corrections during Internet searches. Because the database is built from user queries and indexed pages, the Spelling Suggestion feature can adapt to user behaviour over time to correct commonly misspelled words and names.