Web indexing

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Web indexing (or Internet indexing) includes back-of-book-style indexes to individual websites or an intranet, and the creation of keyword metadata to provide a more useful vocabulary for Internet or onsite search engines. With the increase in the number of periodicals that have articles online, web indexing is also becoming important for periodical websites.

Back-of-the-book-style web indexes may be called "web site A-Z indexes." The implication with "A-Z" is that there is an alphabetical browse view or interface. This interface differs from that of a browse through layers of hierarchical categories (also known as a taxonomy) which are not necessarily alphabetical, but are also found on some web sites.

Web site A-Z indexes have several advantages over Search Engines - Language is full of homographs and synonyms and not all the references found will be relevant. For example, a computer-produced index of the 9/11 report showed many references for George Bush, but did not distinguish between GB senior and George W. In an environmental text, the phrase "lead users" will refer, not only to users of the metallic element, but also to early adopters of technology. Some hits will be time-wasting references, such as looking up “teaching children” and finding only the statement saying "... the above is not relevant when teaching children". Possibly more concerning, Search Engines may miss information – looking up the Dardanelles and missing references to the Hellespont or Çanakkale Boğazı, or seeking information about population and missing discussions about the number of people living in the area. A human-produced index has someone check each and every part of the text to find everything relevant to the search term, while a Search Engine leaves the responsibility for finding the information with the enquirer.

Although an A-Z index could be used to index multiple sites, rather than the multiple pages of a single site, this is unusual.

Metadata web indexing involves assigning keywords or phrases to web pages or web sites within a meta-tag field, so that the web page or web site can be retrieved with a search engine that is customized to search the keywords field. This may or may not involve using keywords restricted to a controlled vocabulary list.

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