October 20, 2009
Just came across an interesting post by Bill Slawski on the subject of a patent granted to Google last week titled ‘Search result ranking based on trust‘. There’s been a lot of talk about trustworthiness being the next big factor to be considered in search engine algorithms but it makes me wonder how useful it would be in reality.
When I use Google to search for something what I’m really looking for is the most relevant result I can find which will answer my query. To be honest, I often couldn’t care less how much I trust the source as long as it’s reputable (maybe rep is a better factor?).
Where I can see a trust (or rep) factor being useful is with weeding out spam search results who have got themselves a really good natural search ranking. Beyond that I’m not convinced it’s required for normal web search (except perhaps as an option or it would be useful in a search through social streams like Twitter, but here I’m referring to the kind of search you do through http://www.google.com).
You see, to some extent trust is in the eye of the beholder and a very difficult thing to turn into a scientific algorithm. A source could be trustworthy to one person and not at all to another depending on many factors. So to really put an accurate trust rating on web pages is going to be extremely difficult (I think).
Would Google’s time be better spent working on relevancy ranking and using trust sparingly as a factor to filter out spam results? Or do you think trust has a bigger place in the future of search algorithms (maybe trust/rep on news/blog search)? Interested to hear your thoughts…
November 21, 2008
Search engine marketers aren’t having an easy time with Google these days.
Google have made a change to the search results interface which aims to make it more Digg/Wiki like by allowing users to move results up and down the list, delete sites from a results set and even add sites into a set of results.
For the user this is actually a really nice piece of functionality as it allows you to tailor search results to make them more relevant to you, I’m assuming it’s all stored in your web history so future searches keep the customisation.
What this does do is make it really hard for a search engine marketer to know whether what they see as the top ten results on Google is what the users are seeing. In most cases the answer is probably no now.
I think it’s a great move though and could actually help to focus the search engine optimisation industry on making pages more relevant through improving content and engaging users as that is what will encourage them to keep a result high up their list!
Full details on the Google Blog.
March 19, 2008
It seems the mobile web is beginning to come of age at last. Could it be down to the iPhone? The greater occurrence of phones with wireless built in? Better mobile web apps? Increasing addiction to the internet so you just have to get at it everywhere you are? Well, personally I think it’s down to our increasing need for data, connections with our networks and need to access email on the go. Definitely the iPhone has made a big difference but I believe it’s social networks which will really kick start the mobile phenomenon. Just look at Japan and the iMode surge a few years ago, the majority of apps used were related to social uses and email.
Anyway, ZDNet are reporting that Google have seen a 20% increase in mobile search usage.
March 19, 2008
According to SEMPO (the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization) it does.
Apparently money is shifting into search and away from print and classified at an increasing rate. The reason for this I’d surmise is that search is being seen as a way to follow consumers rather than just trying to put an ad in front of them. It’s now widely accepted that most markets have a need to be active in search so it’s natural for spend to shift towards it.
Key findings from the SEMPO study are:
- The North American SEM industry grew from $9.4 billion in 2006 to $12.2 billion in 2007, exceeding earlier projections of $11.5 billion for 2007.
- North American SEM spending is now projected to grow to $25.2 billion in 2011, up significantly from the $18.6 billion forecast a year ago.
- Marketers are finding more search dollars by poaching budget from print magazine spending, website development, direct mail and other marketing programs
- Paid placement captures 87.4 percent of 2007 spending; organic SEO, 10.5 percent; paid inclusion, 0.07 percent, and technology investment, 1.4 percent.
- Google AdWords remains the most popular search advertising program, but both Google and Yahoo sponsored search spending has decreased from a year ago
Here’s how the spend is shifting:
Shifting to search is great for all the SEO agencies out there but is also going to make their jobs a lot harder as they have to work for their money to get clients to the top of the listings. As competition grows, so it becomes more difficult to get dramatic improvements in position, some SEO agencies have had an easy ride in recent years and that’s going to get harder.
Other developments will also affect SEO such as the introduction of semantic search technology (as announced by Yahoo recently). Developments such as this could change the rankings entirely and again will mean the agencies have to stay ahead of the game and work hard (not a bad thing).
March 18, 2008
So says Tim Berners-Lee in this article on the future of the web, search and semantic technologies over on the Times website.
I tend to agree with him unless Google move into the semantic search space pretty quickly. With Yahoo announcing support for semantic mark-up within their search index Google will surely not want to be left behind.
I’d like to think the future of Google will embrace semantic technologies and make it a real ‘discovery engine’, surfacing links of high relevance to searchers through much stronger understanding of the content within.
As an aside; one thing I’ve been thinking would be a nice app would be a semantic web robot which you could set off to scour the web for content and with the added semantic features (rather than the more usual boolean profile based robot) it could learn as it went by allowing you to score results for relevance to you. The first really intelligent agent?
So Yahoo recently announced their Open Search platform. Now more details are emerging and Yahoo have announced they will be supporting semantic mark-up and making use of the structured, meaningful data that can be applied to web pages to help them index better and serve up more relevant results.
This is a big step forwards and if released into the main Yahoo Search will surely help them in their fight for users with Google and Microsoft.
Relevance is king in the search engine world, being able to interpret results by more than just standard search algorithms of content density and link equity has the potential to deliver a much more relevant results set to every search. As semantic mark-up and web standards increase in usage this could give Yahoo and edge they badly need.
There hasn’t been a major move to optimise relevance in search results for years, this could give SEO’s something to keep them busy. Rather than following the usual tactics of copy optimisation and ensuring pages are well formed, developers will now need to ensure they use the relevant semantic tags to add meaning to their pages.
The one thing that will bring the users flooding in is if an engine finds a way to deliver highly relevant results. Returning three truly relevant links is far more useful than delivering one thousand arbitrarily ordered links. I for one would immediately switch to using an engine who gets semantic search right.
I hope to see this implemented asap if Yahoo have any chance of capitalising on this move. Google will be hot on their heels otherwise…
January 31, 2008
A report (here via Marketing Charts) shows that ROI on search marketing has improved in the past year.
What is really interesting is the figures showing ROI improvements by search engine. Google has improved ROI by 7.5% (and it’s taken a whopping 76% of the total spend). Yahoo showed a 39% improvement in ROI returned to advertisers since the launch of Panama which is great news for them although coming at a difficult time. MSN interestingly shows the highest clickthrough rate and ROI, it’s ROI was 27% greater than the average across other engines.
Just shows why the money is still all in search at the moment. While returns like this are to be had it’s going to be tough for anyone to convince me that it’s worth moving money out of search into other areas.
January 14, 2008
In an absolutely bonkers move a lecturer from Brighton Uni in Sussex UK has banned her students from using Google and Wikipedia to research their topics for assignments.
The lecturer says that students have got too used to just regurgitating the first things they find after a Google search which can often lead to inaccuracies.
I say it’s a bonkers move as the issue here is not that students are using the web to research. The web was invented by universities for research purposes, it’s the best source of information available to students today. Yes there is some inaccurate data and wholly fictitious information but it’s down to the research processes used.
Rather than ban all the students from using these sources, which is totally ridiculous anyway as most will carry on regardless, the Uni would be better off putting some effort into training the students how to research correctly, use Google effectively and effectively evaluate information and data sources.
The lecturer Professor Tara Brabazon will be speaking on the subject this Wednesday at the Sallis Benney Theatre in Grand Parade, Brighton. Her talk will be titled ‘Google Is White Bread For The Mind’. I think I may attend!
January 9, 2008
It seems we’re set for another year of Google domination in the search engine market. I can’t see anyone making a dent in their market share for quite a while (although the Microsoft/FAST deal may make things interesting eventually).
Another interesting stat from the report is that the travel sector has received 22% more traffic from Google from December ’06 to December ’07 and a 12% increase in traffic from search engines in general.
This shows that for those of us in online travel the search engine is still going to be the major source of qualified traffic. Time to shift that banner spend into something more lucrative like paid search!