When relevance came of age.

Thanks to scuttleblog for the picture

So, as we speak (March 2011), we have 2 billion actively using the web!  Social networking has delivered a whole new pattern of “creating interest” and “earning attention”.  The nature of Web 1.0, as a shop, has been superseded by social media, which in turn is getting superseded by personalised information streams of algorithms and interest charts.  In short, we have information at our fingertips, lots of information, in fact, arguably, too much information – if there can be such a thing!

The thing is, if you split the “information streams” into their “understood” use, then we have many different ways in which people will come into any information eco-system.

And this is driven by relevance.

1.  The search dominated web: Arguably the domain of Google.  This method gave rise to SEO, link farming, PPC, GA etc but relied on people looking for “suff”.  There is a problem with this.  What people got was the site that had the most money spent on it i.e was “forced” to the top of the pile.

The problem being two fold. Firstly the site that people found may not be the one that they needed.  This does not deliver serendipity.  It only caters for contextual search (and only part of that).  It does not deliver random search.

Secondly, it relies on someone using a search facility.  Which brings in the next phase of the web.

2. The social web: The advent of the social web i.e consumers having a greater control over content and sharing, has given rise to a more “organic” method of finding stuff.  Peer to peer recommendations are generating millions of page views that bear no relevance to “traditional” search patterns generated by web 1.0 or the “search dominated web”.

From a business perspective, this method has given rise to a whole new genre of business “method”.  It has forced massive change in the nature and culture of business.  New departments are appearing, as well as new methods of calculating ROI.

3. Personalised recommendations: Given that we have gone into the web in a linear fashion, the next inevitable step would be personal recommendations supplied by sources that you would favour.  This is good, but can deliver similar problems as the search dominated web i.e a “singular experience” delivered by a singular source.

The source maybe trusted and good but part of it is missing all the good stuff that its self is not aware of.

4. The ecosystem of relevance: Personalisation using a combination of web disciplines, knowing that the “entrance” into the “ecosystem” will be fragmented.

Relevance:  This does not, necessarily, mean popular.

Most ”algorithmic” searches or information delivery, in the short term, relies on “popular” as opposed to “relevant”.  Relevance, however, can mean something that is not what you were looking for but find useful non the less.

If we look at the methods of entry into the web as a matrix, then entry can be in many places, therefore, focussing on only one as the “best approach” can never be the sole approach.

Relevance is a vague notion.  But a powerful one.  As a consumer, only I can be aware of what is relevant … but as a provider I can only focus on getting the information streams ready, at all levels, to make the difference to the consumer of the information.

The competitive edge.

The future for businesses is allowing this to happen.  The implications of the “relevance driven web” are wide ranging and broad.  Relevance metrics such as “engagement” and “time spent on site” will take precedence over primitive metrics such as page views and traffic.

The obsessive nature of counting followers and traffic will diminish and be replaced by context driven systems.

Above all, allowing “relevant ecosystems” to flourish is the only way to deliver higher yielding interfaces to cater for different needs.

Relevance has come of age.


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  • I suspect when you match relevance with benevolence, it will become even more powerful still.

  • Anonymous

    HHmm I’m thinking it would Tom.

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