I’ve been playing with a new feature of NewsOK this morning.
… a search product that will allow readers to dig deep into topics related to the stories they are reading online.
When users click on what is called a “SmartLink,” which highlights people, places, organizations, companies, products and more, they will be presented with a page that displays other news content relevant to the highlighted text.
It’s like a customized Google search engine. Unlike the common link in a blog post, that takes you to a specific web page, activating a SmartLink displays a new page with the following information:
(1) See related articles that are currently active on NewsOK.com.
(2) See related Oklahoman articles that are archived to 1981.
(3) See links to related content from thousands of World Wide Web news sources.
(4) See links to related blog entries from the WWW.
(5) See links to related video and multimedia presentations from the WWW.
(6) See links to related audio files from the WWW.
The search results are a little thin on content, but all seem to be relevant. Clicking on Inform Technologies, LLC, the company behind the application, produced links to two related Oklahoman articles, three related articles from other newspapers, and two related blog entries. That’s good enough. If a person wants more results, they can always turn to the big search engines.
SmartLinks not that smart
There are a couple things I don’t like about SmartLinks. They are redundant. The article I referenced above contained eight highlighted instances of “The Oklahoman”, all using the same search term – “The Oklahoman Publishing Company” – producing the same results . While that’s annoying enough, when you add another eight highlighted “NewsOK.com” SmartLinks, again producing the same search term – “The Oklahoman Publishing Company” – you end up with 16 highlighted links in this one article with indentical results. In all, there are a total of 37 links that lead to only 10 different search terms. Not only is it distracting to read so many highlighted links in the copy, but is disturbing that most serve no useful purpose.
I’ll reserve commenting on the quality of blog search results until I see whether Okiedoke shows up on there or not.
A more useful feature is a left sidebar with links to related article topics. There are plenty of search term links listed in a clean layout.
Overall, the service gets a thumbs up from me. I can’t tell how much slower pageloads are with the search application, but it wasn’t painful on a DSL connection.
I’m glad blogs were included in the results, and NewsOK also deserves credit for listing other competing news sources in its search results. Considering it wasn’t long ago that the Tulsa World was threatening lawsuits for bloggers linking to them, NewsOK appears to be light years ahead and practicing what they preach.
At NewsOK we continually strive to improve the user experience and provide you with more highly relevant information in a usable format.
All I can say is “keep up the good work”.