Professional Web Surfer Offers Tricks Of The Trade

By: News Canada

Library assistant turned Yahoo! Canada surfer, Kate McCabe shares search tips.

(NC)—After working as an educational administrator, a library assistant, and a movie reviewer, Kate McCabe admits that her career path took an unexpected turn when she became a professional Web surfer.

"I was looking for a career change when one of my colleagues suggested that I apply for a job at Yahoo!," said McCabe. "At first I wasn't sure what kind of job I could expect but my diverse interests and my passion for Canada were exactly what they wanted in a Web surfer."

Many say it's the human touch and expertise that differentiates Yahoo! Canada Search (www.yahoo.ca) from other online search engines, many of which rely strictly on algorithms to pull together search results. As the company's surfing manager, McCabe's main job responsibility is to help users find the information they want. As well, because Canadian users are primarily looking for Canadian sites she ensures the search and directory functions reflect this need.

For example, Canadian sites appear at the top of the main directory categories and are noted with a Canadian flag.

McCabe also spends a great deal of time studying people's searches to help determine how Yahoo! Canada can best present search results and help people find what they are looking for, witnessing first-hand the common mistakes consumers make when researching information online.

The most common pitfalls include selecting search terms that are either too specific or too vague, or entering terms that have dual meanings. For example, when you type the word, "Iroquois," are you seeking facts about Iroquois native people or are you looking for information on HMSC Iroquois or are you hoping to find information on Iroquois Falls, Ontario?

With search challenges such as these, the importance of someone like McCabe comes in with her skill to direct your search so it produces category results for both topics.

Tapping into her experience as a library assistant, she offers a simple tip: before you begin an online search, imagine you are at a library information desk describing a book for which you are looking. The more accurately you can describe your search, the more likely you will get better results.

Although it is not her job responsibility, McCabe is fascinated by what people search. One of the most of the most interesting trends she has noticed is that Canadians use search engines for travel. "I picture people researching and booking a trip to a tropical island or even a summer getaway within Canada because they need a break or time off with their families," said McCabe.

With professional Web surfers like McCabe working behind the scenes, Internet enthusiasts can easily and quickly research their dream vacation and a whole lot more.

- News Canada

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