Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Along Came a Spider...

This week I chose to look at the application of spiders to websites. I ran several of my favourite history websites through Search Engine Spider Simulator, the Backlink Anchor Text Analyzer and the Keyword Density Checker. I knew that spiders sought out keywords but I was surprised by how much content was lost through the process. The spidered text that was displayed listed only the main menu at most. For the victorianweb the spider listed only the small menu text on the side of the main page and ignored the large content menu that fills the main page.

The spidered text also frequently included largely irrelevant aspects of the site. For example the victorianweb spidered text referred to the University of Singapore twice in the five line site summary. The University of Singapore is one of the partner universities of the site, but this information is hardly the most pertinent that the site has to offer. There was a better chance to get some useful information by following the spidered links throughout the website; this took more time and gave less information than actually browsing the original site itself, raising the question: what was the purpose of using a spider?

The keyword density checker is interesting and does have potential but it encounters the same limitations as the spider search - it fails to incorporate the content of the site into its summary. The keyword cloud was an interesting visual way to illustrate the presence of terms; but the program is so inapplicable to relevant site material that it loses any value aside from asthetic. These programs are simply unable to discern relevant content information; I find them largely useless.

Also, as a personal bias, I do not like the inclusion of ads, by Google, on each page. While this would be more understandable or even possibly useful if the ads were for relevant items, as is the ads barely touch on relevancy to the site content. For example, on the spider's results of the victorianweb I was besieged with ads for Queens School of Business, Christmas tree ornaments, and DJ services.

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