Google Buddy – The future of search

Today’s post from Google’s blog by Marissa Mayer, VP of their search products and User Experience team about the future of search offers us some tidbits of information and a view into what Google thinks search should become in the future. 

Marissa begins by talking about some basic questions she had today that could have been answered by searches. Musing about how limited queries are based on just keywords, she jumps to the possibility of using photo, video and audio input to trigger searching. Google is looking for their search to have total immersion in your world to be able to provide the best results. In order for this to happen, Google is going to need eyes and ears on you at all times, because it would be a shame if have to “break out an awkward, slow device to do a search”.

Since location is relevant to a lot of searches, incorporating user location and context will be pivotal in increasing the relevance and ease of search in the future.

Several of the questions she had were specific to a particular area, such as “What Times does J.C. Penny open”, their answer is that Google needs to know where you are… Well naturally, how else are they supposed to supply local advertising to you!

You should note that Google is seriously contemplating the Google results page even further in it’s attempts to further integrate Universal search into the search concept. She muses,

What if results pages pulled the best media together and laid it out such that the most useful content was not only first but largest?

This isn’t just idle thoughts though… according to Marrisa,

 For the past year, our goal has been to take advantage of these new types of results and evolve the interface design and user experience in response. You’ll see the fruits of this experimentation in the coming months, but even these changes are just the beginning.

I had the good fortune to be one of the accounts selected to try out a “bucket test” on a new google account I was creating. Below is a screenshot of “Digg like” icons that appeared next to search results that allowed me to promote and banish different sites from the SERPS.

This type of addition will most likely be a further addition as google attempts to acheive intimate personalization. There are several other varients on this theme that harness user experience in a new way. However, Google has a much more detailed level of personalization in mind for the future.

maybe, search could analyze my social graph and realize that one of my friends works at LF, that I saw that friend this weekend, and that in that context “LF” refers to her place of employment.

Because this Google of the future would have eyes and ears on you at all times, of course it would know who you talked too and everything about that person, including details such as employment. To make their search more relevant of course!

[W]hat’s our straightforward definition of the ideal search engine? Your best friend with instant access to all the world’s facts and a photographic memory of everything you’ve seen and know.

Ok. So this is Google’s vision of search in the future…a Google buddy who is with you at all times. Where your Google buddy goes with you everywhere, Google Buddy knows who you talk to, Google Buddy knows what your associates do in their lives, and Google Buddy can answer any and every question that you might even possibly ask. I hate to come off as a paranoid person…but isn’t that just a little bit creepy? I mean, utilities are good, and search is an excellent tool, but the…intimacy needed to allow search that type of power is… frightening to say the least. I don’t know though…have I gone off the deep end and read too much into this?

Ronk Checker on the Fritz

The Ronk checker, which is usually a very reliable and useful tool is currently not able to pull any results from Google. I have tried from several computers and had other freinds of mine also make the attempt.

After some searching, it seems that Googles recent updates, including their addition of Google Suggest to the regular SERPs, may have disrupted their ability to get results. I was able to find on the Ronk checker page that Aaron says that “We should have a new version out today or tomorrow at the latest.”.

Green like Trees or Green Like Money?

Today a talented co worker with a nice smile pointed out a new website online where you could contribute 2 dollars, and they would plant a tree and give you a digital tree on their website. This idea was intended to be a charitable situation, but when it was Sphunn, it caused quite a few negative sphinns, and a lot of venom. ( Update: Unfortunately, It was removed from Sphinn, but I did manage to save a few of the quotes below from the discussion )

Is it ok to take greenback to become Green?

There are a couple of issues at play here, the first one being a morality question. Sassy internet blogger Sugarrae says that she has a problem with this:

Because this was a shady way to promote this, you got called out, now you’re being an asshat about things by trying to justify using a charitable act to earn money. Not cover your costs, but earn money.

In his defense, the creator of the site, Troy Dunn, Director of Web Development at Page1Solutions, rationalizes that

I don’t know how much time the rest of you have spent working for non-profits or raising money for the environement, but it’s not easy. So I came up with a way that benifts website owners and the planet. Not sure what the big deal with that is.

My personal take on it is that I don’t have a problem with people getting a benefit by running a green operation to plant trees. That would be like saying that people shouldn’t get any money back when they recycle…It’s not BAD that they received money for doing a good thing, it’s a good thing they did something positive, it’s just a bonus that they got paid too! What’s your opinion?

The other conflict should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention to the search engines recently. The problem is that the tree’s he is selling on his site come with a hyperlink. Just think, if he had just left off the link part of the program, he might have avoided this problem all together. However, since it’s now part and parcel of his site, we need to ask what about Google’s stance on paying for links

There could be a counter argument that any SEO is going to know that only the first few links on the site are going to be worth anything, so in terms of actual seo benefit, it’s a bit questionable. I think that if he adds No-follows to the links, that he will skate past google’s paid link prohibition, and people can still feel good about planting a real tree and a digital tree.

Update: The Sphinn of this article discussion was *I say questionably* removed, I sent an email to Sphin to find out why,

Hi Jeremy,

The submission was removed as 5 members of Sphinn marked it as spam.
We do not see it as relevant to Sphinn and it also isn’t a news story
or topic of discussion.

Hmm,  “Break Dancing SEO’s” is relevant to sphinn, news story AND a topic of discussion though…

Here is my response to Sphinn:

I disagree with you and think you should reinstate my post: It is a topic of discussion as well as being news worthy:
1. Before you removed the other sphinn discussion there was a large number of SEO industry people involved in debating the post-
2. It’s a discussion of a site that may be considered selling “paid Links” – Absolutely this is a “Topic of Discussion” in the seo industry. Are you saying there is no debate about paid links?
3. The ethical question of utilizing a web charity to make a profit, and also contribute to the environment isn’t “newsworthy”?

Those WERE the Droids I was looking for…

Tk421 realizes his mistake…

Funny story. It was over 10 years ago now that I saw the original Sad Storm Trooper Photo here, made the addition of “Those WERE the droids I was looking for…” and posted it to Flickr and sent it to my office mate.

I was really surprised at how it became one of the early viral memes. The Flickr profile has half a million views, it even has it’s own meme generator now and I’ve even seen people on the street with it on a t-shirt.

Youtube users are not poor teenagers

YouTube Video Audience has deep Pockets

If you thought that video websites were only visited by bored, disillusioned youths in America, then the recent 2008 stats from Youtube should open your eyes!

The virtual audience actually has the highest percentage of users making an annual income of $50,000 – $74,999 annually, with 27 %. Even more surprisingly, nearly half of Youtubes users have an annual income that actually exceeds $75,000 dollars!

Adjusting Marketing to address your Audience

The numbers are there, America is becoming more and more enveloped with video, and websites that ignore this type of content for their site are losing out on a huge piece of the pie. As a site owner here are some quick ways to get into video

  1. Film a product introduction for your site
  2. Produce helpful tips for your industry
  3. Cover an industry event like a convention or meeting

There are a variety of hosting platforms that are free to use, and embed into your website. You could use Youtube, Vimeo, or Viddler. However, if your video is quality and you want to get the biggest splash, then I recommend using http://www.Tubemogul.com where they syndicate out and track your video across a wide number of platforms. You of course can choose which platform you grab your embed code form, but this method will get your site out as far as possible. Natually you are also going to want to follow some good content writing and seo advice!

Treat Pictures like Visual Content

A Pile of Clothes
Don’t let your Images become a messy pile

Utilizing Images to Enhance your website content

There are many different types of content that people could be looking for online. People looking for the same subject are often going to be searching differently if they want to see different types of site content. With Google’s Universal Search playing a larger and larger role to accomodate these different types of searches, you need to make sure that you are incorporating media properly in your page content. In the Google Webmaster chat about Optimizing Images for Search it became clear that the context of the image is used to help determine it’s relevance to a keyword. So, as you add content to your site, make sure your images aren’t just piled up, and thrown willy nilly about the page. Your images should align with the content to further the message. No one wants to read through blocks of text with no relief. Additionally, that content you’re adding has it’s Alt text(title) description, so that Google can see how that image lines up with the information being conveyed in the text itself.

Google Webmaster Chat – Google opens up

Thoughts on the strength of DMOZ? If you can get a DMOZ link it’s helpful, but there’s no special “DMOZ boost” or anything like that. – Matt Cutts

Google’s Webmaster chat is a blitz of information from Google. The web ex interface is displaying different demonstrations, while the Question and Answer section is wit with several hundred rapid fire questions that are answered by a variety of Googlers. You should keep your eyes and ears out for the next one as there are OODLES of information given out in the course of an hour.

I think a very helpful presentation came from Jonathan Simon a Googler from Webmaster Chat: He was talking about different items that can cause you to drop in rankings

  • Duplicate content: rule of thumb – 1 url and only 1 url for each page
  • syndication without credits back to you
  • Having your site scraped and your content showing on spam sites
  • Server issues can impact site, if the server is down when Google bot rolls round, you can have trouble
  • Major configuration changes
  • Competition Improved their site or linking
  • Change in search trends
  • Any changes that violate guidelines by you or your marketers

He was of course kind enough to recommend some courses of action to take when your rankings dip.

  1. File a Reconsideration
  2. Post to Webmaster help Chat
  3. Add fresh unique content
  4. Develop Tools, mashups, gadgets, subscribed links
  5. Make sure your site is Geo- targeted * Go to your webmaster tools, then go to the tools section. Then add your business to Local business center

Again, if you can get into the next webmaster chat- it is really worth your time!

Yahoo’s Secret Weapon

Yahoo! is using every possible weapon available to keep it’s independance from Microsoft. Recently, at their Search Monkey Development Party they launched a new offensive with a NEW STRATEGY!!!

BEER!

I personally commend Yahoo! on their innovation…now if they could just vend them to me when I search Yahoo! ….