Scoble isn't happy with the results he gets from the search engines. He gives an example of searching for the term HDTV in all the major search engines, and then focuses on Google's results for his issue:
But I'm in a different role. I want to buy one.
So, let's just focus in on Google since that's the hot search engine of the moment. First link: an introduction. I don't need that. I already had an introduction. Second link: how HDTV works. I don't care. Next. Third link: an info site about stations and some product comparisons. Hmmm, maybe useful later, but I'm looking for something else right now. Fourth link: Amazon.com. Huh? I'm not ready to buy yet. I wanna know what's available. It predicted I was in a different role. Fifth link: a magazine site. OK, it's clear the search engine isn't going to give me what I want, so I'll probably go off and read that site for an hour and come back. Sixth link: an ATI card? I'll have to put that on my gift list too. Seventh link: HDTV Buyer site. News and info. Another site I'll have to go and check out later. And on and on it goes.
The trouble is, there's absolutely not context available to the back end for that kind of search. It's 4 letters. I really don't know how anyone is going to satisfy Robert's request - he wants pre-sale info first, but someone else might well want "what is this HDTV thing I keep hearing about?". The thing to remember is, not everyone tracks technology like Scoble does. The other thing to remember is, how contextual do you expect a set of results for a 4 letter search term to be?
I suppose the engine could query you, but that adds clutter, and I suspect that usability testing would tell you that people get irritated by that. Further down, he writes this:
We know this can be done. Why? Cause Google did it for Seattle Hotels. Here's the Google result for Seattle Hotels. They make a nice little list of all the hotels available and even give you one of those Google Maps. MSN Search has the exact same thing. Yahoo goes even further. They have pictures and ratings!!
So, why can't they do this for HDTVs? Of course they can. It just hasn't gotten onto the dev list of any of the major engines yet. Yet.
Well, what he's missing is the extra context. If I type HDTV in, I've provided no extra context - no information on whether I need a definition, or information on buying, or what have you. It's a crap shoot. Seattle Hotels has that extra context - not only are you interested in hotels, but you are specifically interested in Hotels in Seattle. The difference between the two result sets is all about the amount of context provided.
Look at it this way - people are way smarter than search engines. If a guy stops you in the street and says one word - HDTV - in a questioning fashion - what are you going to think he wants? And the person won't be someone you know. The more context you provide, the better the answers. The less context you provide, the worse the answers will be.