Analysis of Google and its search offerings, both on the Web and for enterprises. Related subjects include:

January 14, 2008

19 bullet points about the difference between enterprise and web search

Eric Lai wrote in this week’s Computerworld about “Why is enterprise search harder than Google Web search?” Highlights included: Read more

January 12, 2008

A claim that Google is doing pretty detailed extraction

In a blog post focusing on SEOing for local search, some interesting claims are argued, including:

  1. Google knows what a review is. (This seems to be “everybody knows it” conventional wisdom.)
  2. Google knows how many stars a review got. (Ditto.)
  3. Google tracks who the reviewer is and how many other reviews s/he wrote (that’s the big insight of the post and related conversation).

Pretty interesting. Text mining companies are paying a lot of attention to Voice-of-the-Market these days; even so, I question whether then can do the same things out of the box.

January 10, 2008

How Google’s technology took flight

For those who missed the original publication in April, 2002.

December 2, 2007

Danny Sullivan thinks blended vertical search is a game-changer

Danny Sullivan thinks blended vertical search — which he’s calling Search 3.0 — is a game changer. (In this context, “vertical” search denotes alternate result types such as video, image, map coordinates, or product listings.) In saying that, he’s focused on search marketers, who now have a lot more ways to try to get their messages onto Google searchers’ top result pages. But I presume what he’s really saying is that there will be a feedback effect — if Google tells all web searchers about videos and product listings, then internet marketers will be more motivated to post videos and product listings, and hence there will be more interesting choices of videos and product listings — which Google will naturally wind up featuring more prominently in its search results. And so on.

Given the Youtube explosion, I find it hard to argue with his claim.

April 30, 2007

Wise Crowds of Long-Tailed Ants, or something like that

Baynote sells a recommendation engine whose motto appears to be “popularity implies accuracy.” While that leads to some interesting technological ideas (below), Baynote carries that principle to an unfortunate extreme in its marketing, which is jam-packed with inaccurate buzzspeak. While most of that is focused on a few trendy meme-oriented books, the low point of my briefing today was the probably the insistence against pushback that “95%” of Google’s results depend on “PageRank.” (I think what Baynote really meant is “all off-page factors combined,” but anyhow I sure didn’t get the sense that accuracy was an important metric for them in setting their briefing strategy. And by the way, one reason I repeat the company’s name rather than referring to Baynote by a pronoun is that on-page factors DO matter in search engine rankings.)

That said, here’s the essence of Baynote’s story, as best I could figure it out. Read more

April 17, 2007

For search, extreme network neutrality must not be compromised

In a recent post on the Monash Report, I drew a distinction between two aspects of the Internet:Jeffersonet and Edisonet.Jeffersonet deals in thoughts and ideas and research and scholarship and news and politics, and in commerce too.It’s what makes people so passionate about the Internet’s democracy-enhancing nature.It’s what needs to be protected by extreme network neutrality.And it’s modest enough in its bandwidth requirements that net neutrality is completely workable.(Edisonet, by way of contrast, comprises advanced applications in entertainment, teleconferencing, etc. that probably do require new capital investment and tiered pricing schemes.)

And if there’s one application that’s at the core of Jeffersonet, it’s search.No matter how much scary posturing telecom CEOs do – and no matter how profitable or monopolistic Google becomes – telecom carriers must never be allowed to show any preference among search engines!At least, that’s the case for text-centric search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft run today.The reason is simple:The democratic part of the Internet only works so long as things can be found.And search will long be a huge part of how to find them.So search engine vendors must never be able to succeed based on a combination of good-enough results plus superior marketing and business development.They always have to be kept afraid of competition from engines that provide better actual search engine results. Read more

April 1, 2007

Orlowski is back to his old tricks

Andrew Orlowski thinks he’s figured out the Apple/Google/Oracle partnership. But he has it all wrong.

February 23, 2007

Has Google hit 10 petabytes yet?

I’ve been musing about how big Google’s core database might be. Figuring that out is not a trivial problem, unless they’ve published the answer somewhere that I’m not aware of. But here’s a big clue, from an announcement about their n-gram data:

We processed 1,024,908,267,229 words of running text

Read more

February 3, 2007

Can Hakia hack it?

Hakia purports to be a new search engine that indexes “semantically,” which I presume means on phrases or concepts or something. But I’ve run a few queries side by side on Hakia and Google, and they’re not doing well. I think they’re not making sufficiently good use of page reputation. Try “web hosting forum” for an example of this, looking at the top two hits in both cases.

When I queried on “Viagra,” Hakia did — as it were — outperform Google. But that’s the only case I, uh, came up with. On less snigger-worthy searches, Google seemed to do as well as or better than Hakia.

January 31, 2007

Twist our arm, please!

Slashdot has a long, exclusive article on proposed US legislation to fight foreign internet censorship. The gist is that companies such as Yahoo and Google seem to be saying “Please, pass a law OBLIGATING us to resist censorship and other bad behavior.”

I think this is both admirable-if-true and, better yet, probably true. Clearly, US web search companies are vulnerable in theory to competition from less scrupulous competitors in other nations. But for now our search technology lead is strong enough that their main competition is with each other. If China (for example) can’t play one of them off against the other, there’s at least it chance it will be reluctant to throw the whole lot of them out.

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