Whether Boolean, Semantic, or Machine Learning win the global search quality competition, remains to be seen. But a search system quality, by definition, depends on how well users can get results they want. For that, a user’s understanding of what to expect in the results is important (I hope you agree with the last statement).
Many modern systems have advanced search syntax – at a minimum, supporting the Boolean logic and the quotation marks for phrases. Systems also do some interpretation of the user’s intent when searching. For example, we can expect Google to: a) see if there are misspellings and offer corrections b) include synonyms for keywords without the quotation marks and for abbreviations; c) try to find pages where keywords are close to each other, in the same order, and rank those pages higher.
On ZoomInfo, we can expect that searches for VP and Vice President will return the same results.
On LinkedIn, however, there has been little interpretation of searches. It has had some title abbreviation recognition (VP = Vice President) on and off, different in Recruiter and personal, and it’s rather unclear where that stands. We’ve also long noticed that LinkedIn is interpreting people’s names – searches for Bob and Robert return similar (though not the same) results.
In any search, we expect that:
- If we add a keyword, the number of results goes down
- If we add a condition, the number of results goes down
- If we didn’t use the quotation marks, the word order should not matter.
So now, let me present you with an “IQ test”, based on the following searches, which produce unexpected results.
Question for you: what is LinkedIn “thinking” (i.e. what is the internal logic, where does any interpretation come in) when it produces these results? (And yes, it’s not what a user would expect.)
- morgan stanley enterprise java 14 results –> Change word order –>
- morgan enterprise java stanley 754 results –> Remove a keyword –>
- morgan enterprise java one result –> Change word order –>
- enterprise java morgan 46 results
- morgan enterprise 130 results –> Add a condition –>
- morgan enterprise AND company=morgan stanley 536 results –> Remove a keyword –>
- enterprise AND company=morgan stanley 24 results
Email me the answers (or hypothesis) of why it works like that, or post in the comments. The first few correct responses will get a ticket at the upcoming
(sold out for this week but we have scheduled a new session).