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Google's dilemma is your opportunity

As the saying goes, one person's dilemma is another person's opportunity. Case in point: Google.

Google, because it is the "default" search engine for the Internet, holds enormous power and with it, responsibility.

While this might be a dilemma for Google, it points to an opportunity for knowledge managers. As the administrator and curator of your organization's knowledge repository, you hold enormous influence over what resources will be found when knowledge workers query the repository for information.

Remember, your job is not to be info-neutral, but to be info-biased. Your job is to help your co-workers find high-quality and relevant information that will help your organization succeed. The more you can show that you are able to quickly and easily direct people to the "right" piece of information, the more the organization will value you.

So how can you do this? First, as a content administrator, you can:

Ensure robust meta tagging occurs as information flows into the system. Meta tags are information about the information. They make data more discoverable by adding new facets for search to hook on to, which lets people find it more easily. For example, a meta-tag for IBM might be "International Business Machines." When you query "International Business Machines," the search results will yield "IBM."

Tagging can be done in an automated fashion with auto-classification, through entity extraction, etc. It can also be done manually when you have a low volume of high-value information. When sourcing information, use organizations that meta-tag their information, which might save time and energy to tag data yourself. Reuters has meta-tagged its news feeds for years, and AP is finally getting around to it.

Pick high-quality information sources. You do this all day as an information professional, and it is crucial to creating a high-value repository. Garbage-in, garbage out.

Discard low-quality and outdated information in the knowledge repository. Search engines do not distinguish between low-quality and high-quality sources. They differentiate based on relevance (which is often about word count). If the repository is 80 percent bad data, the search will return 80 percent bad results.

One way to purge the repository of useless information is by monitoring document views. This tells you if a document is seldom or never used. If this is the case, it might be worth finding out why, and deciding if it should be removed. Also, with news feeds, the ability to auto-delete or purge outdated content is a must.

Tune the search engine. Is relevance a good way to sort the search results? If your repository houses news articles, for instance, you might want to tune the search engine to sort by date. This might yield more useful results.

Build a social knowledge network. Build a social knowledge network in concert with the community. For example, social tags increase the search facets and make information more discoverable. Rankings can help users more efficiently sift through content, enabling them to find what they need more quickly.

In addition, comments and ratings can help you understand what information sources are of high quality and what documents need to be weeded from the system. You can also use rankings to influence or drive search relevance. Use the wisdom of the community to enhance the power of search.

Taken together, these methods of top-down tuning and bottom-up commentary can make a real difference in how quickly users find the right piece of information. So you see, "Google's dilemma" is your imperative.

What are your tips on tuning content and making it more relevant?

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