Posts tagged ‘Danny Sullivan’

Holding Google to a Higher Standard in Search

Danny Sullivan has been the go-to guy for understanding the world of search for over 15 years. This week he published a really good story on Google Plus Your World. A group of engineers have launched a site called Focus on the User that shows exactly how the new Google service could be including other social media content listings besides only Google Plus, but is not.

Google Plus is of course Google’s entry into the social network battle, and the service recently announced over 90 million users. Just this month Google has started inserting social media content from Google Plus listings (when available) into the search engine response pages (SERPs) on Google. However, other major sources of social media content — Facebook, Twitter – are not included.

Danny does a great job of laying out why this is overly preferential, and doesn’t deliver the best search result. The engineers from Facebook, Twitter and MySpace behind  Focus on the User have developed a bookmarklet -called Don’t Be Evil, get it? – that you can add to your browser to pull more comprehensive social media listings into your personalized search results.

Danny makes a strong case this improves current search results. He provides lots of screenshots like this one. It’s important to note that the bookmarklet is using Google’s own algorithmic rankings for these revised SERPs.

Click to enlarge - Which response is more useful?

Danny does include the other side of the story. Sites like Facebook and Twitter do not license their content to be crawled, so why should Google include this content?

“Google, in particular its executive chairman Eric Schmidt, has argued that it doesn’t have all the data it needs to include other social services in the way it does for Google Plus. The failure to reach a deal with Facebook; the failure to renew a deal with Twitter, these have prevented the social signals it needs from being used, Google has said.”

What the Focus on the User group has done is clearly demonstrated that Google could have included other content if it wanted. And to my read Danny has made a convincing argument that Google SHOULD do this, because it delivers the highest quality search results back to the user.

If legal concerns are really what is holding Google back, they should challenge Facebook and Twitter to allow them to use the same inputs Focus on the User has accessed via the bookmarklet. If those companies refuse, then publicize that decision.

I’ll be installing the Focus on the User tool this weekend and doing my own comparisons. If anyone out there is already using this, please drop a comment with your impressions.

January 27, 2012 at 8:21 pm Leave a comment

Back to the Future — The Browser War

Fierce competition is back on the web browser front. After Microsoft crushed the Netscape challenge in the mid to late 90’s, Microsoft Explorer cruised for years as the overwhelming leader in the web browser market. It still is, with approximately 75% market share. But out of the Netscape defeat rose the Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit that launched the open source Firefox browser and has been refining it since. Here’s a good overview from Brad Stone of the NY Times:

Yesterday Microsoft struck back announcing a deal with Hewlett-Packard. Starting in January 2009 Microsoft’s Live Search will be the default search engine on all HP computers, taking that spot away from Yahoo. The deal is for North America only — Microsoft probably decided it has enough anti-trust issues right now with the European Union. Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineLand has a typically good piece, highlighting the US market share numbers of the various PC manufacturer/search engine alliances. I also like the idea he floats — why not cut consumers in with lower PC prices when the manufacturer gets big $$ from the search companies?

It fails to mention that HP will gain cash through the deal for effectively selling out their users. That’s not to single out Microsoft. The Google-Dell deal is exactly the same situation. Yes, in both cases, the computer owners are getting access to good search resources. But maybe the vendors should charge less for computer where they benefit by choosing for the consumer? Or maybe they need to disclose more fully why the defaults are the way they are?

But the struggle isn’t over when the default is set. Users can of course change their search option. Or they can be cajoled/coerced into doing so. Here’s a piece from Danny last year on that mostly behind-the-scenes battle:

There is one element of the HP/MS deal Danny doesn’t focus on, maybe because its not related to search. In addition to Live Search being the default on HP computers, Microsoft’s Silverlight animation software will be built in as well. This is the MS product that competes with Flash, and having millions of computers on the market that can view Silverlight without needing any plug-ins should be a big market advantage. Ars Technica thinks that will end up being more significant than the default search element:

Personally I prefer Firefox. It seems faster than Explorer, and useful add-ons like the Alexa traffic reader are easy to implement. I don’t mind that Firefox has decided for me that Google should be my default choice for search — at least not yet. We users need to remember we can always make up our own minds.

June 3, 2008 at 12:07 pm Leave a comment

Balancing Professional and Amateur Online

Earlier this month Newsweek ran an interesting story about the resurgence of an old debate — if/how content should be edited on the Internet. The viewpoint that venerates the wisdom of crowds and the individual blogger/YouTube poster has seemed dominant lately, but is there now a movement back to “professional” content vetted by experts?

I say old debate because the conversation has been around since the Mosaic browser lit a bomb under the growth of the WWW. Many forget that Yahoo started with human-edited categories being the most used and trusted parts of their search results. See here for a typically strong and thorough explanation circa 2004 from Danny Sullivan on Yahoo’s gradual evolution away from categories in the face of a tital wave of web content growth:

Driving this evaluation now is advertising. Advertisers want their messages to be placed next to high quality content that draws a premium audience — not an angry screed from a blogger long on opinion and short on facts. Or a popular but tasteless YouTube video. Professional editors/experts can presumably produce quality content that can then be monetized more effectively.

My take is there’s plenty of room for both kinds of content — the Web is a very big place, and getting bigger all the time. Here’s the article written by Tony Dokoupil:

March 25, 2008 at 11:05 am 1 comment



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