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Trying to find useful things to do with emerging technologies in open education

Where is the Open University Homepage?

Several weeks ago, I was listening to one of the programmes delivered to me every week via my subscription to the IT Cnversations podcast feed, when I came across this Technometria episode on Search Engine Marketing (if you have a daily commute, it’s well worth listening to on one of your trips this week…).

One of the comments that resonated quite strongly with me, in part because I’ve heard several people in the OU comms team asking several times over the last few months “what’s the point of the OU homepage?”, was that to all intents and purposes, Google is now the de facto homepage from many institutions.

That is, this is the OU homepage for many people:


rather than this:

(As far as I know, very little of our online marketing sends traffic to the homepage – most campaigns send traffic to a URL deeper in the site more relevant to the particular campaign).

Just in passing, a post on Google Blogoscoped today – What Do People Seaarch For? – picked up on an item from Search Engine Land describing a new tool from Google: Search based Keyword Tool.

What this tool does is to “suggest keywords based on actual Google search queries” that are “matched to specific pages of your website”:

Hmmm…. (and yes, that Savings Interest Rates pages is on an OU domain…)

PS this search based keyword tool is also in the ball park of Google Trends, Google Insights for Search, and Google Trends for websites, which I’ve be playing with a lot recently (e.g. Playing with Google Search Data Trends and Recession, What Recession?), as well as the Google Adwords keywords tool:

which looks a lot more reasonable than the Search based Keyword tool?!

PPS Again in passing, and something I intend to pick up on a little more in a later post, Yahoo have just opened up a Key Terms service as part of the BOSS platform that will let you see the keywords that Yahoo has used to index a particular web page (Key Terms provide “an ordered terminological representation of what a document is about. The ordering of terms is based on each term’s frequency and its positional and contextual heuristics.”).

Services like Reuters’ OpenCalais already allow you to do ‘semantic tagging’ of free text, and Yahoo’s Term Extraction service also extracts keywords from text. I’m not sure how the BOSS exposed keywords compare with the keywords identified by the Term Extraction service as applied to a particular web page?

If I get a chance to run some tests, I’ll let you know, unless anyone can provide more info in the meantime?

Written by Tony Hirst

November 20, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Posted in OU2.0, Search

Tagged with ,

4 Responses

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  1. would like to chat with you about opencalais actually. had a look at it a week or so back (there’s a drupal module) but I don’t really get it fully

    stuart

    November 20, 2008 at 9:46 pm

  2. skip intro…

    Oh how i’d love to get my hands on that homepage!

    Guy Carberry

    November 20, 2008 at 10:17 pm

  3. [...] If anywhere, this is the page on the Platform site that looks most like the place that is linking out to other OU web properties on the “main” OU website. In which guess, I guess it’s really an info point? And many respects, the thing that is closest to a traditional university homepage (although, err, Where is the Open University Homepage??). [...]

  4. [...] Related, in a roundabout sort of way: Where is the Open University Homepage? [...]


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