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A Worthy Rant From Danny on Yahoo Search

By - September 15, 2009

Danny Sullivan over at SEL has really teed off on Yahoo’s search strategy, and any time he goes off, it’s worth a read.

From it:


Got it? Write it down, someone come check back on this in five years. If Yahoo’s moved up in search share thanks to outsourcing search and just toying with the user interface, I’ll eat those words somehow — covered even in Yahoo purple frosting.

No one has succeeded as a general search engine just by making user interface changes. No one, in the past nearly 15 years of us having search engines. That’s like 150 “real” years. (For more, see A Search Eulogy For Yahoo and Why Search Sucks & You Won’t Fix It The Way You Think)

The interview ticked me off in other ways. Bartz downplayed search as something people spend only 3% of their time on. Hey, I don’t spend all my time shopping. But who do you think makes more money off of me, places I shop at or television stations that deliver me entertainment?

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Omigili Figures Out How To Hack Google For Real Time Results

By - September 14, 2009

Way to go dudes at Omgili!

By now you probably know about the “Search Options” feature Google introduced in May. One of its features is to limit the search results by time frame. By default the available time frames are: Any time, Past year, Past week, Recent results and Past 24 hours. Past 24 hours is nice but still far away from Real-time. What Google isn’t telling you is that you can search in the past minute and even in the past second. The trick is to change a parameter in the URL that will narrow down the time frames. ….Notice the URL parameter qdr:d. I assume qdr stands for Query Date Range (sounds about right). All you have to do to search for the query in the past minute is to change the parameter to qdr:n, and for the past second to qdr:s.

Past Minute:

Bing Gets Visual

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Bing is announcing new visual search features today. The post outlining it all is not yet up, but here are details and links from an email sent to me earlier:

Link to the blog post, not yet up, but soon they promise.

Link to the announcement on TC50 stage.

Text from the email, edited for clarity:

On Monday, Microsoft will launch a new beta feature in Bing, it’s new decision engine, called Visual Search that is a new, easy way to search by clicking instead of typing. Visual Search helps you search information visually, and helps you refine a query when a picture makes it easier to sift through all the online information. Look for that movie you wanted to see, find the best new purse, or figure out which digital camera is right for you using an engaging visual experience without having to sort through page after page of links. People can try the beta of Visual Search by going to

· Visual Search categories that will be available on Monday are outlined below. This list will continue to grow and expand.

· Structured Content and images for Visual Search are provided by a number of sources, including MSN.

· The seamless transitions between selections are achieved through the integration of Silverlight technology

Visual Search Galleries:


100 heroes and villains, Billboard’s past albums, Billboard’s past songs, Film legends, Greatest movies, Movies in theaters

Popular books, Popular celebrities, Popular DVDs, Popular TV shows, Pulitzer winning fiction, Top albums, Top songs

Famous People

FBI’s most wanted, Popular celebrities, US politicians, US presidents, US vice presidents, World leaders


Dog breeds, Periodic table, Travel destinations, US politicians, US presidents, US states, US vice presidents, World leaders, Yoga poses


Cell phones, Digital cameras, Handbags, HDTVs, New cars, Popular books, Popular DVDs, Portable GPS, Pulitzer winning fiction, Top albums, Top iPhone apps


MLB players, MLB teams, NASCAR drivers, NBA players, NBA teams, NFL players, NFL teams, NHL players, NHL teams, UFC fighters

dog breeds bing.png

Update: I played with the Dog Breeds visual search, and found it pretty cool. It’s not as deep as I would like – the promise is that you don’t have to go out onto the web, and I found myself back into the “back and forth” button mode too soon, but the visual search is really cool to start with.

Google News: A Payment System and A New Search Bar

By - September 09, 2009

From Neiman:

Google is developing a micropayment platform that will be “available to both Google and non-Google properties within the next year,” according to a document the company submitted to the Newspaper Association of America. The system, an extension of Google Checkout, would be a new and unexpected option for the news industry as it considers how to charge for content online.

The revelation comes in an eight-page response to the NAA’s request for paid-content proposals, which it extended to several major technology companies and startups.

And from Google:

new-old-search-next.pngFor us, search has always been our focus. And, starting today, you’ll notice on our homepage and on our search results pages, our search box is growing in size. Although this is a very simple idea and an even simpler change, we’re excited about it — because it symbolizes our focus on search and because it makes our clean, minimalist homepage even easier and more fun to use.

Well, if I were Facebook or eBay/Paypal, I’d be concerned about any payment system from Google, no matter how early stage. And the larger search bar, well, just seems to make sense. Search queries are getting longer, for one, and we’re all getting older, for another – the text is now bigger as well. (OK, maybe it’s just me getting older…)

Search Frustration: It's Still Hit Or Miss On Complex Decisions

By - September 04, 2009

My second post (of two) is up over at the BingTweets site, part of an FM partnership with Microsoft. In it I describe my frustration with search as it relates to helping me make a complicated decision: How to possibly buy a classic car. From it:

So first, how would I like to decide about my quest to buy a classic car? Well, ideally, I’d have a search application that could automate and process the tedious back and forth required to truly understand what the market looks like. After all, if I’m looking for classic Camaro or Porsche convertibles from the mid to late 1960s, there are only so many of them for sale, and they can be categorized by any number of important variables – price, model, region, color, features, etc. And while a number of sites do a fair job with a portion of the market, I don’t trust any of them to give me a general overview of what’s really out there. That’s where an intelligent search agent can really help.

But the next step is the harder one. I am not “smart” about how to buy a classic car. I don’t know enough to buy one with confidence. I don’t know what to ask about. I don’t know if it’s good or bad that an engine, electrical system, or transmission is original or rebuilt. I don’t know how one model does versus another in resale value, or insurance cost or…well, you get the picture. There’s a lot to consider, and I don’t know how to value everything. The world of classic cars is complex, like most major decisions. In short, there’s no easy way to decide in this case (unless, of course, I could just buy the most expensive one. That usually guarantees you’ve gotten what the market thinks you paid for it. Not an option for most of us).

So what do I need? I need help from a human being – someone I trust who has command of the classic car domain *and* has my best interests at heart. But given that I don’t have a spare Uncle who happens to be a classic car nut, what am I to do?

Yahoo's New Search Plans: Out Bing Bing

By - September 02, 2009

Yesterday I got a chance to debrief with two leaders of Yahoo’s search team (yes, I know how that sounds given the Bing deal, but bear with me here). Late last week Yahoo announced its intentions with regard to continuing its innovation in search, and I had noted the irony of such an announcement.

I think most of the industry has written off Yahoo as a search player, and for some good reason. It’s true the company has abandoned two key pieces of the search puzzle – indexing and search monetization. But it’s also true, as I noted in my coverage of the deal, that Yahoo is retaining its right to control the user interface to search, and it’s clear that’s what the company is now focusing on.

What I find fascinating about this is how clearly it positions Yahoo to compete, directly, with its partner Microsoft and Bing. More on this later today.

Yahoo's New Search

By - August 27, 2009

It feels a bit odd to be writing that headline – “Yahoo’s New Search” – given the company’s deal with Bing/Microsoft. But Yahoo seems intent on declaring its independence with regard to search, even as it sells its asset and audience away to its newfound partner.

Yahoo does retain, in the deal, the right to innovate on top of Bing results, and I guess that’s where this announcement is pointing – noting that Yahoo has been innovating in search UI and plans to continue to do so. I’m talking with the Yahoo folks next week and will have more on their plans then. But it strikes me as potentially conflicting to the deal for Yahoo to be innovating in UI on top of Bing, as one of Bing’s strengths is its innovation in UI….

On Using Search for Decisions

By - August 17, 2009

As part of BingTweets, an FM/Microsoft promotion blending the two services, I was asked to opine on the idea of how we use the web to make decisions. My first post has been up for a while but I managed to lose track of time and forgot to let you all know about it. I wrote a piece called “Decisions are Never Easy – So Far” – and have already written a followup piece, though that one is yet to be published. (And yes, I’ve asked them to make that picture smaller. Migod.)

From the first post:

If what you are looking for is a hotel room, a plane ticket, or something else in the “head end” of search results, plenty of sites aggregate tons of results for you. But as soon as you go a bit down the tail – like my example for classic cars – search becomes a pivot point for an ongoing and often taxing decision process. The opportunity, I think, is to figure out a way to support that process down the tail – saving us time, clicks, and frustration along the way. I see two paths toward that goal: one is creating applications on top of “ten blue links” which help me organize and aggregate the knowledge I process while pursuing a search query, and the second is making my searches social, so I can share the process of learning and learn from those who have shared – not unlike Vannevar Bush’s “Memex” concept.

When the second piece is up, I’ll post an excerpt here as well.

Google Search Share Declines

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Back when I predicted this in January, I recall worrying I was calling it too early. Now it appears the timing was about right. From Mashable:

…while Google grew from June to July, it still lost market share to its competitors – from 66.1% in June to 64.8% in July, a 1.3 percentage point drop.

From my prediction: 3. Google will see search share decline significantly for the first time ever. It will also struggle to find an answer to the question of how it diversifies its revenue in 2009.

There’s more to be said on that second point, revenue diversification. More on that after the summer break I’m supposedly on.

Caffeine: A Fundamental Rewrite of Google, A Shift to Real Time

By - August 13, 2009

Matt Cutts points to a video interview (embedded above) on Google’s Caffeine infrastructure update.

“It’s a pretty fundamentally big change” Matt says. What I’d like to know is why and in response to what changes on the web. Of course, the major changes in how the web works are clear: Real Time Search.

In this post (and/or this one) I said:

In short, Google represents a remarkable achievement: the ability to query the static web. But it remains to be seen if it can shift into a new phase: querying the realtime web.

It’s inarguable that the web is shifting into a new time axis. Blogging was the first real indication of this, but blogging, while much faster than the traditional HTML-driven web, is, in the end, still the HTML-driven web.

Part and parcel to this shift is the web’s adoption of Flash/Silverlight/Ajax – a shift to assuming the web works in real time, like an application on your desktop. That makes it damn hard to index stuff, because pages are not static, they are created in real time in response to user demand. This is a new framework for how the web works, and if Google doesn’t respond to it, Google basically will become relegated to a card catalog archive of static HTML pages. No way will Google let that happen…

(By the way, one of the reasons I was impressed with Wowd was exactly because of its ability to, at scale, track a new signal in the web – the signal of what we are actually doing in real time…as opposed to the signal of the link…but more on that later.

Matt was asked if Caffeine was specifically about Real Time, and he was not totally specific about this but it’s pretty obvious it is all about this shift.

Oh, and Matt says it’s not because of Bing. In one way, I agree. But let’s be real. Microsoft and Yahoo did this deal because Yahoo alone could never sustain the infrastructure costs associated with indexing and processing the Real Time Web. So in truth, Google did this because it had to, just like Microsoft and Yahoo did what they did because they have to. If you want to play, you have to get the infrastructure right.

Here’s SEL’s take on it.