Feeling Lucky?

March 24th, 2009 2 Comments

I always find it noteworthy when a handful of stories about a single company or service pop up within a day or so.

Usually, none of them alone is all that interesting, but as a collection, they sometimes form a story that I find blogworthy.

This time it’s Google’s Web Search.

I'm feeling lucky goes here, believe it or not.

I'm feeling lucky goes here, believe it or not.

Totally weird to see that in print. Google is synonymous with search, so it feels like overkill to list it like an item from the Google menu of services. It also feels weird to talk about search as noteworthy because for the average Intertubes user, search just is. It’s not an option or a feature.

Anyway, here are the stories that caught my eye:

A common thread between them, the power of Google search.

The first article is essentially about how big content publishers “resent” that their brands don’t rate higher on results pages. They want more weight given to so-called official sources in PageRank to drive more traffic (and theoretically, money) to their online presences. Getting more weight pushes the content to the top of the results, above the fold; that’s the magic kingdom of SEO.

Skipping the judgment section of the post, isn’t it freaky that these mainstream media publishers have conceded so much power to Google?

What about their own SEO efforts? What about their ability to draw eyeballs directly to their content?

It seems like yesterday when every TV ad plugged an AOL keyword and an “Internet web site address”.

I guess those aren’t working well enough anymore. Think about your own behavior. How often do you use Google search in a day? Our dependency on search manifests in funny ways, e.g. let me Google that for you. While we’re talking about lazy web . . .

What if Google were gone, and you had to seek content other ways? I know I’d go to social search through Twitter or Facebook for a lot of answers. Social search (ahem, lazy web) gives pretty good results, although they’re highly dependent on the makeup of a network.

One analyst made a stir recently by predicting that Facebook will pass Google in terms of traffic as soon as 2011. If Twitter keeps growing like it is, they’ll probably pass Google by the time I hit publish.

An interesting factoid from that prediction is that Facebook accounts for 19% of referred traffic to Google, up from 9% a year ago. I wonder if people know that they can search the ‘tubes using Microsoft Live within Facebook. It seems like a nightmare scenario for Microsoft. Their investment in Facebook is garnering huge traffic numbers, but Facebookers are still using Google for search, even when they can use Live Search without leaving facebook.com. I’m curious to see the numbers on the Live Search integration. Maybe the increase isn’t signifcant.

News flash: people dig social networking. Imagine if they figure out that lazy web yields better results than Google.

Not surprisingly, Google isn’t sitting still. In fact, the second story breaks down brand-new changes Google just made to their results pages. The changes offer longer snippets for results and links to searches the algorithm thinks are related to your search.

As Marshall notes in the RWW post, these changes seem more likely to keep traffic on google.com pages than to move it off quickly to other sites. He also mentions that research found that 80% of searches people perform online are informational in nature, whereas 10% are navigational and the other 10% are transactional.

Again, think about your own use of Google. This maps pretty closely to my behavior, and again, I’m using lazy web more often to get that information, as long as it’s something I think the network will know. Do you use social search much? Have you tried the Greasemonkey script that integrates Twitter’s search results into Google’s?

That little thing rocks.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Google and Twitter get a lot more chummy as social search and algorithm search convergence. The final story I listed covers a change to Twitter’s page tags to optimize the PageRank of Twitter profile pages.

If you have a Twitter account, just Google your name to test it for yourself (and don’t pretend you don’t Google yourself). It’s too bad you can’t run a side-by-side comparison. I do have a vague memory that Twitter was further down the list before the change.

This change may eventually have a ripple effect on all indexed tweets too, effectively grouping your tweets with your name, which could lead to a munge of social search (your tweets) with machine search (PageRank).

Since each tweet has its own page, now with your name on it, instead of your handle, as well as the tweet content, I thinking there will be ways to harness this proximity, like constraining a Twitter search to only your tweets. Yeah, I know you can do this already with site search and other hacks. The point is making it mainstream and dead simple.

Why was all this interesting?

It underlines what a dominant force Google search is and how aggressively Google will move to protect that dominance.

What do you think about all this search stuff?

Your thoughts are lonely and belong in the comments where they have company.


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2 Responses to “Feeling Lucky?”

  1. chet Says:

    Love the last line:

    “Your thoughts are lonely and belong in the comments where they have company.”

    I have no (informed) opinion on the rest today.

  2. Jake Says:

    That's OK, the comments appreciate your effort, and they'll be here when you have that eureka moment. That's how they roll.

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