Sometimes a discussion crops up about how the search game is dead, or about how the next amazing search engine will change the way the world searches. It’s a great idea, and one that should be pushed continually to it’s limits, it’s competition which develops innovation after all. In the end however, there are some elements of the game which just won’t change. At least not for the fore seeable future.
As a metphor, think of a wheel. Round, helps carry a vehicle of sorts to it’s destination. There are core elements which make up the ‘whole’ of the wheel. It’s shape, it’s internal to external strengthening in the manner of spokes of some kind and connected to a point to which it can spin. If you change any of those variables, then what you’ve created is no longer a wheel right?
The same core intricacies exist in the world of search. Google helped define what those core principles are, and while some of the players make their own additions or variations to them, they’re still part of the whole. Just like 1+1 will always equal 2, when you boil down the search algorithm used by the search engines out there, they all break down to the same basic structure.
When a user types their query, check the database. Do we have a match? Display the list.
From there is where it gets complicated, that’s where the refining comes in, the positive and negative values associated to all sorts of terms. Gambling, sex, government, medical etc.
The core of the game has never changed and won’t be changing for the immediate future. I don’t have a crystal ball in my possession, but until a company can come forward with a faster, more complete, and intuitive version of a search engine, the game will always be as it has always been.
So in a bit of a twist of the online nature, it’s a decidedly different change in the race to the cloud so to speak. It wasn’t Google to do it, it wasn’t Microsoft, it looks like the crown for first will be going to Amazon.
Last week the online mega-sales site launched it’s Android app store, and just yesterday made an unexpected offering, Amazong Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. Interesting note, it is not iFriendly. Now it’s not the full service cloud solution that some people may be looking at exploring, but if the player and storage are stable under heavy load, it speaks well for Amazons future forays into the cloud. It starts off fairly basic, with 5GB of storage for your music enjoyment, but you’re upgraded to 20 GB of storage for the purchase of one MP3 album. Now just because it’s a cloud based music player, doesn’t mean it’s restricted, your storage space can be used for essentially anything, music, documents, photos etc.
This comes on the heels of a report that last week Google (whom many though to be the cloud leader) began testing it’s own online music services. The introduction of the Amazon player however isn’t so much a thorn in Googles side, as it is a boon to it’s Android software. Music has been an issue for the devices, and now with Amazon offering their own storage and player, and a strong relationship with Android app marketplace already, it wouldn’t be a surprise to find Google and Amazon shaking hands to make some ends meet.
The implements which are used by a trade expert or even a novice user to reach the end goal, the tools of the trade are most often key to the process of creation or discovery. It’s extremely rare when a person gets in trouble for using their tools to do their job, and it’s even rarer when they’re penalized heavily for it.
And yet, that’s exactly what an Italian court has decided to do, well sort of. Their first ruling this year was in regards to Youtube and their decision that the website is effectively a television station and as such needs to follow the same rules on them. Pinning the responsibility on Google to monitor the content being delivered to the country. Okay, so a couple of ip filters (very basic example) and they’d be good to go with Youtube maybe.
The Italian court however, has recently handed down a verdict on the realm of search. In one case in particular, Yahoo was found guilty for containing links which the court determined allowed copyright infringement. The same case however, was not brought up to Googles legal team, so that’s a little odd there. Also somewhat interesting, Yahoo doesn’t power it’s organic search anymore, it’s handled by Microsoft Bing. So if Yahoo (rightfully) passes the responsibilities to Microsoft, and they don’t take care of it, then does Yahoo get left out in the rain? Too broad a decision at best and leaves too much interpretation to the imagination. But then, things really get strange.. you didn’t think it stopped there did you?
Back to my tools to do the job analogy, Google, Yahoo and Bing all share near identical traits. The greatest of which is being a search tool for users to find their destination. Whether it’s a purchase, research, gaming or what have you. Search engines don’t create websites, they don’t create videos or publish webpages, they gatherm collate, and provide information as it’s requested by it’s users.
On to the weird stuff. This same court decided that users of AdWords platforms, could not be held liable for bidding on copyrighted terms for their ad spaces. Paid search advertising will not be held accountable for the terms used to place in search. Clear as mud then. Organic search results however, can be penalized under this new ruling. It’s not like Google, Bing and Yahoo are hiring massive development teams to create pages full of trademarked or copyrighted terms just to screw up the results and businesses. By this Italian court ruling however, they’re saying essentially that. Personally, I’ll be surprised if the ruling on search holds any water for more than a few days at most, it’s almost like the court has never used search to understand that it’s just a tool, not a content creator.
Some interesting points in the news for the day, a game of copycat, a story about stories and a trending term late in the day, GaGa going Google.
When it comes to playing copycat, the internet made it almost second nature to find an idea, make a change or two and launch it as your very own. And almost never have the world know better. But this version has to do with Yahoo and it’s own iteration of the Google Instant search tool. It’s not a revolutionary shift in the way search will be conducted on the web, but for the users of the Yahoo search portal it fits into their mantra of search by click. As you type your search into their search box, it’ll give you the drop down list of anticipated searches. It’s limitation however, dwells within being tied to the Yahoo engine, the anticipated searches are limited to Yahoo categories.
A story about stories that has made the rounds has to do with Google as well today. A judge has essentially told Google that no, you can not digitize the worlds books. The search giant had reached an agreement with publishers and authors late last year with a payment to reimburse the creators of the works. Federal judge Denny Chin was quoted as saying of the idea: “..would grant Google significant rights to exploit entire books, without the permission of the copyright owners. Indeed, the Amended Settlement Agreement would give Google a significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copyrighted works without permission, while releasing claims well beyond those presented in the case.” Where this will be going in the near future is completely up in the air for the moment, as is the future and longevity of untold amounts of orphaned pieces literature.
As for Gaga going to Google, she answered some fan questions, cracked some jokes and had a generally good time. You can find her video on Youtube, it’s an interesting view of the most searched artist who leveraged the power of the web, social media and online marketing to become a music sensation.
Here is a great pictorial from Aaron at SEO Book & Jess Net. Click to make Larger
Infographic by SEO Book
In what’s sure to be a precedent utilized around the world, Google and their Street View product has been absolved of any wrong doing. Well, in Germany that is for the time being.
A court in Berlin has rendered the verdict of basically not guilty of infringing on personal privacy because the pictures from the cars are taken from the street and not the sidewalk. A number of the claimants used the fact that the cameras were mounted so high up on the cars they could see over privacy fences and the court told them in short, to just opt out as 240,000 other Germans already had.
The way which German courts are laid out, this is a final decision in thhe matter for Germany, but it hasn’t affected global matters as of yet. Perhaps for the moment, all eyes will turn to France and their courts as news of the German verdict was handed out, French courts levied a fine of $141,000 against Google.
Since it’s inception and it’s growth to become the go to search engine for the majority of internet users, Google has tweaked, modified, upgraded and changed the way you search continually. Under the hood that is, the algorithm has been tweaked so many times it barely resembles that innocent little spiderbot that began it’s journey 10+ years ago.
Every time that they make a change in the coding, or an indexing priority change it effects the search results page and it’s relevance for the users. Last year for example in order to speed up the experience of search, Google implemented the Caffeine update which indexed and cached pages faster than ever before. Doubling the experience with Google Instant they brought the average search down to less than 10 seconds for the average user. The most recent major change was the Panda or Farmer update which was put into play to try and exlude major content farms and spammy websites from search results.
And a new shift which is underway, which only Google knows will take place, Google is currently reevaluating the relevancy weight that’s given to keyword rich domain names. In a short video blog, Matt Cutts discusses a few differences between domains in that you can go differing ways in search. With a brandable name, or with a keyword rich domain. And while there’s something to be said for having a keyword rich domain, it also needs to be pointed out that more often than not, brandable urls and company names prevail online. Take Twitter for example, you wouldn’t search for twitter by using social micro blogging site, you’d type twitter in the search bar, or even just directly into the address bar.
So just to be a little more clear in what Google has admitted they’re currently working on. They’re analysing the relevance of keyword rich urls to ensure they’re delivering proper results. And they’re going to be adjusting the level of relevance they give to keyword rich domains. Bear this in mind when the next SEO “expert” you speak to, who’s working from his basement or garage urges to you that you need to have a url with your keywords in it. Because after all is said and done, what’s in a name?
And the winner is? Mozilla and Chrome browsers at last weeks Pwn2Own web security conference. Internet Explorer 8 as well as Safari web browser were hacked within the first few days of the contest which tests browsers and internet security. Neither the Chrome browser nor the Mozilla Firefox browser were breached as teams who signed up to tackle the browsers withdrew as they failed to come up with a technique to exploit them. It’s Firefoxs first “win” at the event and Chromes third year of survival.
Both surviving browsers: open source, have bounty programs, have embedded security teams, better at faster fixes. Co-incidence?
via Chris Evans Twitter, a Chrome security engineer
Mobile browsers were also targeted and all fell to the exploits which researchers found, Google however was the first to offer a fix for the exploit which was addressed.
The contest doesn’t mean that you’re completely unsecured using IE 8 as your dedicated browser, or that by using Chrome and Firefox you’re completely protected from malicious attempts at snagging your data. The researchers at the Pwn2own event dedicate a fair amount of time and resources into breaking or hacking a specific browser, all with the intent of passing on their methods and thinking to the manufacturer so they can be patched.
With JC Penny & Overstock.com getting penalized from Google for trying to outfox the search engines, what lesson can you learn from these stumbles?
Be careful when it comes to technology you may not fully understand. Let me say this again, Be careful when it comes to technology you may not fully understand.
Today, countless organizations—small businesses especially—are being told that their fortunes will improve if they learn to harness the magical powers of SEO. If you own or operate a Web site for your business, the come-ons are no doubt familiar: “I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines,” goes one popular one.
Do organizations fall for these pitches? They sure do. In fact, entire industries have become enamoured with SEO. Take the media business. Today, many publishing companies are putting more investment into search gimmicks than in quality content. The result? Fewer impactful features, more animated slide shows and plenty of SEO-optimized headlines, including one from The Washington Post that read simply, “SEO headline here.”
Infatuation with SEO and related technologies extends to companies of all types. According to the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), North American spending on search marketing is growing nearly 15 percent annually and will top $17 billion this year. This is in addition to the vast sums spent on SEO technology and consulting.
With these figures search has seized the attention of scores of business executives worldwide, Sooner or later, every competitive company will develop or invest in SEO capabilities. When this happens, distinguishing your organization with basic SEO technology and knowledge will become very difficult.
There are signs that some SEO companies are having to go to greater extremes to produce results for their clients. Is the sun is about to set on SEO. It might, but don’t cancel your contract with your SEO provider just yet, For the foreseeable future, SEO technology will remain a very valuable business tool, but only if you keep a competitive advantage. For that, you’re going to have to focus on business basics, including your innovation, prices and operational excellence.
Some thoughts echoed from Inder Sidhu the Senior Vice President of Strategy & Planning for Worldwide Operations at Cisco
So there’s this thing called the internet and people are able to create their own little slice of it to tell their story or maybe even to sell themselves! It’s an amazing tool, sadly it bears the responsibility of granting anonymity to those using it, and as such it’s becoming more and more crowded with imprudent users. Massive sites of good, bad and just plain terrible information. Sometimes it seems that no matter what you want to find, you can’t help but have dozens of trash and spam results to filter through to find those nuggets of wisdom.
Well, Google has listened to your cries for spam control. And with their recent Panda (Farmer) update, it’s helped clean up as much as 12% of the overall searches performed with the service. When you’re talking in the billions of searches per month, 12% turns out to be a rather significant number. And yet, that still leaves 88% of the searches performed which may still be plagued by spam sites, scraper sites and poor quality sites. Well, Google has listened again, and now even more control of your personal search experience has emerged.
Now as you perform a search, a new option to shape your experience, block all results has been implemented. It may sound like it’s just too simple, but it does in fact allow users to form their own modified algorithm of sorts. Not interested in E-How.com? You can now choose to block those results from your searches. After you’ve blocked a url, simply reenter your search terms and voila! Cleansed and purged from your future results.
The search engines are in the business of bringing you, the user, what you want from the web. The added amenities that they provide, whether it be maps, documents, pictures, or Facebook integrations are bonuses designed to help further shape and enhance your user experience. Just like the new feature of blocking searched sites with Google.