Posts filed under ‘google’

Google: old algorithms not fit for purpose – now it’s social and structure

Just read two thoughtful articles by Peter YaredGoogle already knows its search sucks (and is working to fix it) and

Why Google is ditching search. And also John Batelle on It’s not about search anymore its about deals.

These articles look at deeper issues that Google integrating Google+ into search results, but Google+ is. perhaps a wake up call to what’s happening.

Batelle says, “…search is supposed to be about showing the best results to consumers based on objective (or at least defensible and understandable) parameters, parameters unrelated to the search engine itself.”

But as Yared points out, Google has always been a bit social “if it helps, you can think of PageRank as a kind of paleo-social search–just one that moves way too slowly for the modern Web”. Search results are also increasingly gamed and commercialised – via  paid search, content and link farms and organisations’ investment in search engine optimisation.

So Google has been increasingly refocusing its results, reducing the value of signals from PageRank and links and pushing ‘regular’ results down and, often, below the fold.

(Credit: Peter Yared/CNET)

With predictive search – suggesting or pushing users to certain queries, and a greater prominence to answers, Google has the opportunity to reduce the long tail and monetise the search results page further. For organisations seeking to maintain their visibility in Google, there will need to be a move away from ‘traditional’ search engine optimisation. They will need to publish structured data that can seed ‘answers’ and publish content that encourages engagement in social media by potential audiences and, of course, engage themselves.

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14 January 2012 at 20:46 Leave a comment

Eye tracking search results pages

Peter Myers describes using Mirametrix’s Eye Tracker system to check the hot spots (most viewed bits of) Google results pages for five formats – two varieties of local results, video searches, product images and expanded search links.

Three take-aways:

  • Mirametrix’s portable system seems to offer a flexible, reasonably affordable solution that could allow organisations to do their own eye-tracking.
  • As Peter says, “As Google moves away from 10 plain listings for more and more searches, it is definitely having an impact on search users.” For SEO practitioners, it is important to be aware of all the opportunities to appear in results  –  images, video, news; and to be aware of your competitors.  “Ranking #1 might not be pulling the weight it used to if your competitors down the page have more visually interesting results.”
  • The tests suggest that the in-page Local/Places results can have a big effect, even when located in the middle of the page. “In these limited cases, they seemed to pull attention away from the top organic spots. If your query has a local flavor, you need to be aware of how your Google Places page is competing.”

8 October 2011 at 19:49 Leave a comment

Martin Belam’s taking the “Ooh” out of Google

Martin Belam today started a series about getting site search right. By way of a teaser he argues that whilst the world goes to Google, there are “plenty of things you can do” to make site search valuable. Next episode is “what you can achieve by hooking your CMS up to a search engine”. Do I hear metadata?

30 October 2008 at 1:07 Leave a comment

Visibility in universal search

I attended an interesting presentation on ‘The next step for search’, from a search marketing perspective at internetworld.

Andrew Girdwood and others talked about brand and trade names, social graph driven search and more, but what interested me most was the challenges and opportunities with universal/blended search, where the major search engines are increasingly displaying other content formats – maps, images and especially video within the main search engine results.

So there is a challenge and, of course, an opportunity to get relevant videos etc. displayed in the main SERPs in addition to the regular text link. Perceived wisdom was that its relatively easy to rank well with video for relevant terms and, of course, Google loves YouTube.

1 May 2008 at 15:09 Leave a comment

Google search within a site made easier for navigational searches

On Wednesday, we noticed Google was starting to surface a search within box for some results for navigational searches:

Search within Defra

It turns out it’s a wider roll-out by Google as the Official Google blog reports.

“However, one of the trends we noticed while studying teleporting was that there were lots of searchers who would type the name of a specific website as if they wanted to teleport, but would then immediately issue another more a refined search within this site.

Through experimentation, we found that presenting users with a search box as part of the result increases their likelihood of finding the exact page they are looking for. So over the past few days we have been testing, and today we have fully rolled out, a search box that appears within some of the search results themselves. This feature will now occur when we detect a high probability that a user wants more refined search results within a specific site. Like the rest of our snippets, the sites that display the site search box are chosen algorithmically based on metrics that measure how useful the search box is to users.”

The last sentence is interesting. We’ve certainly noticed a wide implementation across UK government websites.

7 March 2008 at 12:06 Leave a comment

Japanese sponsored links in my Gmail

Japanese Adsense

Strange to see lots of Japanese language Adsense placements in my Gmail. The content of the email had no obvious Japanese context.

31 January 2008 at 9:35 Leave a comment

Google PSE or Google’s Semantic Web

A summary of an interesting Bear, Steans equity research paper (PDF) from May 2007.

Google is introducing a new layer to its search and indexing methodology. Google’s patent applications were published in February 2007 and call for a Programmable Search Engine (PSE).

PSE will augment its current PageRank algorithm and change the way in which relevance ranking occurs for some types of web pages.

Under the PSE, web page data will be more structured and webmasters will be able to communicate 2-way to Google’s PSE.

Web pages will be indexed more effectively and web site owners will have the ability to instruct Google about what it can and can not do with the web page’s content:

  1. Provide more granular detail on search results (think car inventory on a lot, not just the local dealer’s phone number)
  2. Provide more personal results (Google could customize search results to the individual user, based on their preferences and past behavior)
  3. Reduce spoofed results by spammers and SEOs
  4. Index password protected information (sometimes called “deep web” or “invisible web” material), with permission (think of information behind in a site with which people have subscriptions)
  5. Index dynamic sites (sites that change based on what the user asks for – think of flight information on sites like Expedia)
  6. Do a much better job indexing non-text based information (think video or audio based content)
  7. Cross-integrate information from different web pages to provide more complete results to answer a question more completely
  8. Finally, Google would be able to leverage the new found ability to provide more granular information to better target advertising, increasing advertisers ROI

PageRank no longer enough:

  1. Spammers/Black Hat ‘arms race’
  2. Can’t offer vertical search or deal with deep web/rich media
  3. Advertisers want more precision.

Key components of PSE:

  • Programmable – via XML to guide indexing – essentially Sitemaps
  • Partnerships – webmasters to become content partners, not anonymous sources of data. Onus will be on webmasters to conform to structured data format
  • Aggregate multiple data sources – across the web – will alter the playing field for web search, relevance and current advantage of vertical search engines
  • Targetted for users and advertisers – customised to context (incl device) of user
  • PSE will learn and grow – as it accepts instructions from usage analysis, webmasters (Sitemaps etc), users and advertisers. As well as an ontology for all the data held in PSE, there will be a ‘database of databases’
  • Opening up Rich Media Web – users can use XML to specify info, output and formats they want
  • Barriers to competition – Competitors could emulate, but Google has scale in place
  • Semantic Web – PSE takes an important step towards Google delivering Semantic Web functionality. In stead of a flat index and a keyword index, Google has a database of databases. With the original content and the site’s metadata data can be accessed in a more manipulated form.
  • PSE does not replace PageRank
  • PSE will take instuctions from XML files – so it’s a more open 2-way design, but Google ultimately defines formats

The five patents

  1. PSE – a layer on top of PageRank. Importance of context: Metrics of the rules and instructions – PSE will learn which are the ‘popular’ rules; Metadata at any level; Usage tracking will help PSE focus on a contextual subset of results – possible privacy concerns; generates metadata on pre- and post-processing operations – so can learn what users do after seeing results and push related content/ads
  2. Aggregating context data.
  3. Sharing context data.
  4. Detecting spam
  5. Generating Ads

2 January 2008 at 23:22 Leave a comment


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