What is the greatest guessing game you ask? It’s the game which has made Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, as well as other search engine start ups and even failures, piles of money just by mention of the word. Search, is the greatest guessing game.
What happened when Google took the game and applied it’s own rules, was dominate the online community as it propelled itself forward, clawing and fighting for all of the infomation it could find. There are various illustrations of the web which come to mind when it’s pictured. Firstly as a web of course, of interconnecting websites and pages, all of which the search bots, spiders naturally, navigate their way around and build up this interconnectability between them. I’ve seen pictures of the internet visualized as planets in galaxies and solar systems, as continents on a map and even as a DNA strand at one point. The best visualization I can come up with is that of an ocean, and all of the websites and pages of the internet are just kind of floating around. People are like little fish, darting around from point to point, sometimes finding what they want, sometimes not. But it’s a fluid environment, never the same from day to day and always on the move.
An article written about which search engine is better at delivering relevant results was the inspiration for today. It tried to demonstrate that by using identical results in different search engines, that one could clearly deliver better and more relevant results than the other. The reality is I believe, much murkier than that. Google is absolutely a brand name, and used extensively in all walks of life. Bing is working hard on branding itself as a decision engine and not a search engine, but in the end both algorithms do primarily the same thing. They guess at what you’re looking for, they guess that they’re delivering you what you want to see and they guess mostly correct only because you’ve already told them what you want to see. Whether it’s via your search history, cookies saved on your computer or even your directly typed search query. Search is still just a game, and for now Google still plays it best. The internet and online technology being what it is, we’ll revisit the topic in a year and everything may be upside down.
Fastest rising / En plus forte progression
- world cup
- lotto max
- vancouver 2010
- hotmail sign in
- justin bieber
- google translate
- kijiji toronto
Most popular / Plus fréquentes
Fastest rising people / Personnes ayant connu la plus forte progression
- nicki minaj
- justin bieber
- katy perry
- sidney crosby
- kim kardashian
- lindsay lohan
- miley cyrus
Fastest rising in sports
- ctv olympics
- fifa world cup
- olympic hockey
- olympic medal count
- ufc 113
- ryder cup
- bob probert
- david villa
- miami heat
Fastest rising in entertainment
- nicki minaj
- justin bieber
- youtube music
- paranormal activity 2
- tout tv
Fastest rising in consumer electronics
- iphone 4
- ipod touch 4g
- duracell mygrid
- evo 4g
So what was it this year that tickled your fancy? The year is always ending just when it feels like you get into the groove of things, so it’s no real surprise that you may not remember what you were interested in 11 months ago. But that’s okay, because Google has just released their Zeitgeist of search. The flow of the year, as told by the trends of the internet and it’s users.
Whether it came to being hit with a bottle, or some other claim to additional fame, Justin Bieber beat out the likes of Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, Shakira and even Netflix to become the fastest rising searched person and entertainment star. At no surprise however, the iPad and iPhone4 dominated the electronics trends, although as the fastest rising search trend in general, the award goes to Chatroulette, the instant, random face to face messaging service.
The fall from grace is never enjoyable, yet Susan Boyle felt it on search this year along with the movies New Moon and Slumdog Millionaire, and the global health concern of Swine Flu. Unfortunately as well however, the tragedies which shape us can be found in the daily headlines as well. At no surprise Haiti dominated the news trends as well as being the number one search term under humanitarian aid with donate to Haiti; followed closely no doubt by donate to Pakistan.
In the end the top 10 fastest rising queries was led by chatroulette, iPad and Justin Bieber, with Twitter, Gamezer and Facebook carrying the backend. The results do need to be taken with a grain of salt of course, as just because Chatroulette enjoys the crown of fastest rising search, it had an equally fast drop off. Facebook by contrast, is enjoying a steadily rising search trend as the leader in social networks. An interactive chart of the year can be found here for the most curous.
Search Engine Results Pages or SERPs as it’s less of a mouthful, is the organic listing of relevant results returned from a search query. Or even simpler put, it’s the list you get when you search in Google, Bing or any other search engine. Google states that they have more than 200 different ranking factors which determine the results pages. Criteria ranging from anchor text, titles, incoming links and so on down the list. Bing, while they have a different algorith, hence different results, works upon the same principles as Googles. There needs to be some backbone, or authority to the people linking to your site to really have any significant driving force. Growing your site, and letting your information onto the web is akin to sprinkling seeds to contribute to your growth, it’s where the term organic results comes from. And now to muddy things up a tad, Google and Bing have started with a new layer of criteria, social factors.
It’s one thing for a robot to navigate the web, and rank websites according to which sites have the most content, or relevant content and return those results to you. But it’s another when you add into the mix that your Facebook friends (presumably) enjoy the same things as you do and ‘Like’ a site with that dastardly Facebook button. Bing is riding on this wagon, as when you’re signed into Facebook and search on Bing, you’ll receive results with your Facebook friends list helping to determine what’s relevant to your search as well. Google social, grabs the trending social information out there, and if it’s relevant to your query returns it as well, primarily in a scrolling box as new results come in.
As I mentioned in yesterdays blog post, social media will not be going away. The web is a social environment, encompassing the globe for anyone and everyone to say their piece. How you use that to assist in leveraging your business can’t be a half though out idea. If social media marketing is important to you, you will need to put hours of your time, or someone who knows your business to help push it in the social arena. Everything from tweeting sales and upcoming deals, to answering customers questions and concerns on Facebook. There was a decent Q&A by Danny Sullivan about how Google and Bing are starting to use social media as search leverage of sorts, an interesting read but the answers weren’t surprising.
There was the big conference today from Microsoft Bing and Facebook, and from the sounds of things they’re trying to give the world of search a stiff shake. The partnership idea that’s been rolled out (very small snippet) is when you search for an item or topic on Bing, your socially relevant searches would appear first. Your friends likes/dislikes on a subject or topic that you’ve plugged in. Some good questions have been asked from the conference, items of privacy of course what with Facebooks infamous history thus far, and of course someone asked about the money incentive (no answer on that last one). The far reaching goal is that your search is tailored exclusively for you. It’s personalization of the SERPs for *everyone* who uses Bing.
About the privacy factor, the social search angle is functioning like a module within Bing. A module, which can be turned off should you choose to shut it.
Zuckerberg stated : “We have this idea. 500 million people can look you up on Facebook. We think why shouldn’t applications be able to do this to?”
Because everyone is searchable on Facebook, set to private or not, the train of thought is to allow applications the same level of trust. Bascially you’re allowing Bing, to see all of your informationg you’ve made public on Facebook, and makes that information searchable to your friends list.
The social search angle isn’t meant to completely remove the traditional SERPs page you’re accustomed to seeing, it’s being added to help personalize your queries and provide you with unique results, relevant to you. It’s an updated twist on the personalized search results you start to see within Google for example, minus the cookie saving sessions. The negative side I personally see at this juncture, would be the fact that you need to Opt-out of the service should you choose not to use it. Some would think Facebook learned their opt-in, opt-out lessons by now. Only time now will be the determining factor on this new idea.
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.
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.
You can read about it in the newspapers, hear about it on the radio, and see it on the television news, the world is changing. The way the world works, communicates, and does business is changing daily, and it’s picking up momentum. There are a number of the old school business minds who still feel that print and radio media are the best ways to go about establishing and maintaining their reputation and products. But today’s youth are online pros. They navigate through content, play games, and use communication services with ease and confidence. Here’s a small snippet of their general online activity:
• Half of kids surveyed say that they have been using the Internet for five years or more, and 58% consider themselves heavy users who access the Internet six or seven days a week.
• Communicating and downloading content are two primary uses of the Internet by young people, but education also plays an important role. Nearly 80% say they use the Web to do research for school assignments.
• Gaming is also a popular activity, with 61% of kids saying they play games online, including multiplayer online games.
• More than half (53%) of kids say that they typically view and download media online.
• When it comes to social networking, 73% of 13-17 year-olds today say they have an account on a social networking site.
• Social networking is a fast-growing online activity. 81% of 16-17 year-olds report having at least one social networking account; this number has grown significantly since 2008.
• Girls are more likely than boys to have a social networking account (72% versus 66%) and to say they always or often update their status (42% versus 29%).
With the knowledge that the upcoming generation is plugged in, aware, and extremely capable using online services, and that they are your next customer. They are next level of consumerism coming into their own, in their online world, where search rules, SERPs matter, and an engaging informative website wins the attention.
The internet is not a fad, search engine optimization is not a flash in the pan, and social networking is not fly by night. Continually marketing business the old, unadapted way via newsprint, radio and television, Is the way of the dinosaur. To succeed you need to evolve, adapt, and embrace the changes required for online success.
In an ever developing technology world, Twitter has been working on implementing a feature into it’s service involving the most popular tweets turning up in it’s search service.
“The Search team is working on a beta project that returns the most popular tweets for a query, rather than only the most recent tweets. This is a beta project, but an important first step to surface the most popular tweets for users searching Twitter..
Until the popular tweet feature all search results have been sorted chronologically, most recent results at the top. If a search query has any popular results, those will be returned at the top, even if they are older than the other results.”
The methodology to implement the service is outlined in detail for developers, but just how the ranking scheme for the tweets is handled, is unknown. The Thought of making the popular results available at search.twitter.com and not just via it’s API was also inferred in the post. But as for an implementation date or time, Singletary was noncommittal.
It’s an interesting idea that is, in a way, a shift in movement for Twitter in it’s core. Twitter, touted as a real time search results source, changing things to bring a user popular/relevant results over it’s real time results?
Everyone it seems is a search engine optimization expert these days. Blogs, forums, webinars, seminars, videos, and pretty much every other method of teaching seems to have a tinge of SEO flavour to it. While SEO itself isn’t a terribly difficult concept, in practice, it’s an art.
Most anyone can “brute force” their way with optimization, just following good practices can get you a long ways on the SERPs. Constructive relevant text, a friendly and engaging user experience, and don’t clutter your site with flash animations, and videos (hint: search engines don’t have eyes). Really basic search engine optimization can be broken down into three basic principles really:
Keep it simple
Keep it clean
Keep it interesting
More often than not, when speaking with a prospective client about their website and their honest chances at landing a position for their desired terms, it’s a somewhat uphill struggle when telling them that the oodles of cash they’ve spent on their dynamically interactive and splashy website, is invisible to the search engines. It’s an even longer fight, when you have to tell them that the company they initially hired to optimize their site, and charged them hundreds if not thousands of dollars, did nothing for them.
Search engine optimization is not flash in the pan, it is not search engine marketing (like AdWords), it is not submitting your website to hundreds of search engines. There are three that matter, Google, Bing and Yahoo; and of the three.. the world knows which is king.
Follow the priniciples, don’t get discouraged, and if you’re getting traffic but not making sales, check your premise first, before blaming the vehicle. And don’t be handily fooled by those saying they know the “secrets to SEO” and will share (for only $49!!). SEO is as much an art, as it is a science, and the differences between the artists and the weekenders, is fully evident on the SERPs.