"Count what is countable. Measure what is measureable. What is not measureable, make measureable." -- Galileo

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Plone and the Wonder Wheel

If you google for a term, let's say, "CMS," you'll notice a little "Show options" link at the upper left that you probably use for narrowing down date ranges or filtering news items and images.  About 3/4ths of the way down the list of option is one called "Wonder wheel."  It displays a spoked wheel labeled with, for lack of a better term, interesting links.  The usual top 10 search results appear in a column to the right.

From the CMS wheel, clicking on one of the spoke's links, for example, "Content Management Systems," opens a second wheel, to wit:

What I find interesting is the difference between the top 10 search results and the spokes, looking at which CMS's turn up within each "spin" of the wonder wheel.  At the first level ("CMS"), most results are disambiguation links.  The only specific systems listed are CMS Made Simple and concrete5, even though "microsoft cms" is one of the spokes.

At the second level, the spokes show ".net content management system," "php nuke," and "microsoft content management system."  The top 10 results now return a few general links plus Alfresco, Pligg, LightCMS, ModX, Drupal, Joomla!, and Plone.  Oh yes, there are some sponsored links at this point.  From here on out, there are always three commercial systems turning up as sponsored links. 

Beyond this, the combinations and alternative paths become numerous.  Following "enterprise content management system" takes us to a wheel with mostly general spokes, but two specific systems garner a spoke each.  Six of the top 10 results are specific systems, none Plone.

Backing up and following "open source content management system," WordPress, CMS Made Simple, and Drupal each label a spoke.  Six of the top 10 results are specific systems, one of which is Plone. 

Backing up once again and following "web content management system" gets us a wheel with only general categories for spokes but 5 out of the top 10 results are specific systems, none Plone. However, selecting the awkward "web content management system open source" spoke takes you to the first wheel in this chain where Plone has a spoke of its own. 

All this raises some questions:
  • What determines whether an item appears on a particular wonder wheel?  
  • What determines an item's position on the wonder wheel?  
  • Why doesn't Plone have a position somewhere in the daughter wheels of "open source content management?"  
  • What needs to be done to get Plone to turn up in more wheels?  
I guess it's that last question that I want to toss out to the Plone community as we count down the final hours to World Plone Day 2010. I can't say that wonder wheels are becoming the new way to search--for one thing, they're not available on Google's mobile page for my Droid.  But I can't help thinking that under the hood a better wonder wheel position translates to better SEO behavior in general.  Your thoughts, please.

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