Category Archives: Google

Googles Search Cap

If acquisitions are feathers in a companies hat, Google has quite the chapeau just from 2010. THeir most recent purchase of Angstro, is another plume for them. Angstro is a type of “personal professional search engine”, but perhaps they say it best.

Angstro represents the ability to hone in on highly focused, relevant news across professional networks. Where search engines such as Google and other news aggregator services have immense infrastructures that return a huge array of random results, Ångströ analyses a wide breadth of information from multiple data sources to deliver very few, yet very intelligent results.

Now any search engine isn’t entirely random, there’s relative results for any query you pose. With the shift in the change of Google’s SERPs, and the Bing/Yahoo marriage finalized, perhaps the addition of Anstro it affords another avenue.

So at last count, the potential social side of Google would comprise of such services as Orkut, Buzz, Latitude, GMail, Maps, Contacts, Calendar, iGoogle, YouTube, Vevo, Google Talk, Google Reader, Picasa, Profile, Docs, (the now abandoned Wave) and as well, their upcoming music service and reported Zynga investment.

They’re not looking to re-invent the wheel ala Facebook style, but at a conference a little back, they did have a slide representing online social time breakdown. Fifty percent of the time spent online, was spent on Zynga games Farmville and MafiaWars. When it comes to the web, and Google, there are no coincidences.

Search Market Share – July 2010

Bing and Yahoo have officially come together, with the results on the Yahoo SERPs being fully “Powered by Bing”. The process began 6+ weeks ago, with it finally being completed this past week.

Slowly and surely, Bing has replaced Yahoos results page with their own, so maybe it’s just me but, the recent market share numbers posted by Nielsen stats don’t make a difference in the search engine world. Google was sitting at 64% market share, while Yahoo and Bing have a combined 27% share. Sensationalizing results, is a method of the press, and what better way to grab attention than to say ‘BING UP 50%!!”

Now, Nielsen has Bing sitting at 13.6% market share on it’s own merit. This time, last year Bing (a repacked, remarketd Live search) was in it’s infancy at 2 months old, which at the time, Bing had 9% of the search market share. Here’s the sensationalizing part, 9% increased to 13.6%, is 4.6%, yay math. But since 4.6 is just a hair over half of 9, that means Bing grew by 51%!

In the end, the numbers don’t lie. Yahoo’s “market share” will essentially decrease over time until it’s just finally lumped in with Bing, and we’ll end up with Google on top, YaBing in second, and everyone else coming in respectively after the two major players. Online PC based search is slowing down a tad as well, with the advent of more intelligent and handy smart phones, but that’s a whole other ball of wax.

Dynamic Diverse Search

There’s a new Google test which has caught fire on the web discussions over the weekend. Google has been running a test algorithm segment which displays your search as you type. Dynamically updating the page as you add, change, or remove your query.

The assumption is that the test has been rolled out to those with only a very high speed connection, as the nature of the results being delivered is unknown. It may be from a cached, prefetch server based on your previous searches, but it also may be entirely and completely dynamic in nature. Automatically fetching the results as you add a term.
Couple this recent test, in with the article decrying that Google is set to allow domain dominance on a search page, it will change the landscape of the SEO game somewhat.

Google said:
Today we’ve launched a change to our ranking algorithm that will make it much easier for users to find a large number of results from a single site. For queries that indicate a strong user interest in a particular domain, like [exhibitions at amnh], we’ll now show more results from the relevant site:Prior to today’s change, only two results from www.amnh.org would have appeared for this query. Now, we determine that the user is likely interested in the Museum of Natural History’s website, so seven results from the amnh.org domain appear. Since the user is looking for exhibitions at the museum, it’s far more likely that they’ll find what they’re looking for, faster. The last few results for this query are from other sites, preserving some diversity in the results.

This change could mean the difference in small business SEO, and will definitely encourage niche marketing campaigns. So it’s time to put on your creative thinking caps, hash out the creative copyright for your clients, and be ready to push for the niche search terms.
From a PR perspective though, it’s an interesting twist from Norvig’s comment earlier about wanting more diversity in search results. In having the second result to be as “different” from the first as possible to encourage diversity.

Hints of Google Me?

So the Wave crashed, the Buzz went out and Google has said clearly they’re not interested in doing “another Facebook”. With all of their purchases in the last while it’s obvious the search giant is working out the kinks for the social space in their own way. Rumored to be named Google Me, a glimpse of what may be part of their direction was showcased.

In October Google is expecting to launch their Google App store, for Google Chrome and Chrome OS. One of the highlights that was discucssed, was app devs keep all of the money made from their apps within the store, minus a 5% processing fee. A marked change from what was discussed at the Google I/O conference earlier in the year. Google App store is their version of the Apple store, but with the added focus on browser gaming and apps developed specifically for the web. The idea for the store at launch is to support paid apps, free apps and subscriptions for their (online social ?) store.

With all of their recent acquisitions, it’s no surprise that Google may by pushing into a social gaming, browser based environment. One of the demographics covered at the same conference where Google unveiled the new HTML5 changes, was the staggering growth rate of browser based games. The top 5 of which, were all Zynga games. Some people believe in coincidence, others make it happen.

Free, Public, Neutral? Or Tiered, Private, and Regulated?

There’s been a world of anger in response to the Google-Verizon “net-neutrality” document which was submitted as ideas. And it’s no real surprise that based on the verbiage contained within it, that AT&T would want to sign on. The agreement after all, does include wireless networks to remain completely unregulated.

It’s been hacked apart, talked about, disected, and criticized on hundreds of pages around the web. But, if by some odd stroke of luck you’ve missed it, basically the document as it is currently written, proposes a somewhat; tiered internet experience. Think like your cable tv package you have at home. You pay a nominal fee for your normal programming, and if you want say movies or sports, you’d pay an extra fee for those channels. The current verbiage of the document is written in such a way. It’s outlined what would essentially be a privately controlled, tiered and structured internet experience. One article I’ve read actually compared to the “bottom tier” akin to the slums of a city. Where only the poor are found amongst liquor stores, dark alleys, and disturbing experiences.

With this one, single document, Google in particular, has taken a huge hit in terms of directly violating their own company motto: “Don’t be evil” There’s been talk of this being the beginning of the end, of a supposed future, that should the regulations be adopted as is, that everyone’s online experience would change. And it would be the beginning of the end of the internet. You can find the the blog by Google outlining the proposal here.

Google hits the Street – And About Being Social

Another one bites the dust? Google is rumored to picking up social media currency creator Jambool, makers of Social Gold. Social Gold is a secure payment method used in online games like Mafia Wars. Social Gold gives app developers the ability to build payments directly into their games and other applications.

It’s just another cog in the machine that Big G is speculated to be building, not to compete with Facebook however as we don’t need more of the same thing. Social websites retain interest and enjoy long term loyalty when interactivity can take a front seat to the experience. Just look to your nearest Facebook notices page for reference. Odds are, you have more than a few friends involved in Farmville, Mafia Wars and so on. Add in the ability to connect to your family and friends as you like, with interactivity that can possibly be shared, and you’ll have a good recipe for some long term memberships.

It keeps going and going..

The StreetView saga that is. Germany, US, Italy, Spain and a few others are still investigating just how much data the camera cars have captured. While the EU has acquited the giant of any blatant wrong doing.

This Tuesday, as I’m sure you’ve seen mentioned in the news, South Korea Police raided Google offices and siezed harddrives and computers related to the StreetView cars.

“We can confirm that the police have visited Google Korea in conjunction with their investigation around data collection by Street View cars. We will cooperate with the investigation and answer any questions they have,” said Lois Kim, a Google spokeswoman.

Korea’s National Police Agency said that Google collected and stored the information illegally. NPA stated that the company collected data from “unspecified users” and their unsecured wi-fi networks for about six months while the vehicles snapped photos for StreetView. All the drama and hooplah aside, it doesn’t mean that anything will happen. Google will probably not even face any charges.

In light of all of the free publicity, Google announced that it plans on introducing StreetView for 20 of the largest German cities by the end of the year. German authorities insisted that peoples faces, and license plates be blurred out, and the public can request to have their homes removed from the StreetView website. According to the Associated Press, these features are purely unique to Germany. A move no doubt, to dispel any fears about privacy.

Google has said time and again, that the collection of data was accidental, but it was not illegal.

Private Google Use

In the midst of the StreetView debacle in which Google accidentally nabbed unencrypted wi-fi data, they’ve been under a bit of scrutiny. A feature which was discussed while the controversy was picking up steam, was the news that Google had plans to encrypt searches within their engine. A new extension for Chrome has recently debuted, as well as an SSL encrypted Google session.

In essence, what the extension allows a Chrome user to do, is set their default search to become SSL encrypted. Allowing all of the searches done within this session to become encrypted so that sneaky StreetView cars can’t nab your searches and search results. Navigating to the Google SSL search page, allows the same thing for all other browser users out there.

If you’re a privacy concerned individual, who feels that your searches are that important or private that they need to be hidden from would be snoopers, then these would be the two easy access tools for you. There’s no worry about your searches being altered or lessened in any way however, Google functions precisely as you’d expect. Quick, efficient, and now fully encrypted for all of your privacy needs.

Google Really Wants to be Wrong (sometimes)

I’ve seen a lot of views of the interview with Peter Norvig, the director of research at Google, over the last few days. He talks about the company and part of it’s core ideas, of being an engineering business, and about why it makes Google wrong. Not all the time mind you, and not entirely. But sometimes, and in some ways, they have admittedly errored.

When he mentioned that Google is a business modelled after engineering, he made the point that you don’t want to be right all the time. Because if you are, you’re not learning anything. And you can’t learn, you can’t grow, evolve, and experiment more. He also made the point relevant to search that, search results aren’t neccisarily right or wrong. Only that some searches may work better than others. It’s a two step in which they check for clear errors, and a second in which they look for what fits best.

Norvig also talked about how and why people get different search results at times. And about how they always make a point to place the most popular or relevant result first, but that two different searchers at the same time, can get different results for the other 9 on the page. He broke it down very basically :

“if I do a search of the New York Times, I want nytimes.com to be the top result. But what should the 10th result be? There is no right answer to that.”

It’s interesting to read, how Google has basically embraced the idea of failure, and about how it’s always an option or an answer to a problem. If you’re interested in investing the time to read, you can find the interview over at slate.com.

Google’s Social Circle Growing

With their sink or swim approach to business, Google Wave has crashed. At the end of the year, Wave will be dismantled, some portions being retained and used in current and future apps. Wave was an innovation in collaberation, which was great once you got the hang of it. Intuitive however, it was not. To work with, and discover Wave’s nuances you had to keep at it, and learn as you work with your friends and colleagues.

Meanwhile, on the hands free end of the news, smartphones running the Android platform has reached the point of 200,000 activations per day. The conservative estimate is that as we approach the end of the year, it’ll be nearing the 30 million Androids in the public.
In a Nielson poll, Android based phones outsold the iPhone so far in 2010 (July outstanding), 27% for the Android versus 23% for the Apple iPhone. Loyalty may become a problem however, as iPhone users are happiest with their handsets (despite the antenna woes), with only 71% of Android owners and users being content enough to continue to use and upgrade their handset.

The ball may remain in Android’s court however, as with the platform being open source, any smartphone manufacturer can build and provide a phone that uses the software.

In the news to come column, Google has inked a deal to purchase Slide, a social app developer. Expected to be announced on Friday, this would mark a second large step in the social avenue of the web, along with Googles previous investment of more than $100 million into social gaming company Zynga.

Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, said that social networking was important to Google:

“Search is going to get better with more social information.”

“We have understood for a long time that social stuff is very important. The question that’s in everyone’s minds is why are we trying to create a competitor to Facebook, and the answer is we’re not going to create a competitor to Facebook. It’s something different.

“It’s hard to see how we could end up as becoming a significant gaming or entertainment source,” he said. “It’s much more likely that we would become an infrastructure for those sorts of things.”

Facebook needs Googles help

In the blog yesterday, I wrote of a CNN article in which the authors outed themselves, rather obviously in fact, about how trying to compare social websites, to search websites, just doesn’t work. It’s trying to compare two different businesses and business models. Recently, Facebook launched a new service of theirs called Facebook Questions, essentially allowing Facebookers to ask questions of each other, and garner answers and opinions.

Perhaps it’s irony, or karma which contributes to it’s, perhaps fatal, flaw. Facebook Questions, has no search function. 500 million Facebook users with the ability to ask and answer questions, but with no discernable way to search through those entries. It’s a basic function which should exist within this type of service, could you imagine Wikipedia without a way to search it?

When you first look at the Facebook Questions page, there is a simple box which states a simple enough question; “What do you want to know?” As accustumed as we are to the web, this would seem the logical place to begin a search query, as opposed to presenting a direct question. However, if you try to search in this way, you’ll receive an error box basically telling you your question needs to have 3 or more words. And when you finish your “query” you don’t end up with a list of possible answers to a question, you will in fact, end up creating one!

Facebook Questions fan page has a brief description stating : Facebook Questions is a new feature similar to Yahoo! Answers and LinkedIn Answers. But instead of being user friendly and searchable to find the answers to questions you may have, it falsely inflates the count of true asked questions by auto-creating new questions. Regardless if someone has already posed the same question. For example, asking “Do you prefer cats or dogs” and “Do you prefer dogs or cats” Would be 2 different questions within it’s “knowledge base”. In digging through the provided information on the new service, “you can’t search for keywords, only topics”. As you dig into their topics however, it’s still difficult to find an answer you desire, as you have to page through previously asked questions, one at a time.
To be able to compare to Yahoo answers, or LinkedIn Answers, Facebook Questions has a very long way to go. Their priority, despite being a beta service though, should be a user friendly search feature to it’s already asked questions. Touted as Googles main “competitor”, it needs to be noted, that without the basic function that Google provides, Facebook Questions will probably be dead in the water before it launches.