Archive for August, 2009

Microsoft/Yahoo! Merger Update

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Last month’s Microsoft/Yahoo! deal continues to draw attention throughout the search community. The market share of Microsoft’s Bing.com has continued to increase slightly since its June launch, but it is still a far cry from Google’s dominant stance in the industry. It is hard to argue that the deal is not affecting Google; the company has unveiled an update to its search platform. Experts see it as a response to the move, but Google denies such claims stating that the update had been in the works for awhile.

Perhaps the greatest challenge that Bing faces in its fight against Google is search loyalty. Google has simply become a habit for users over time, with most giving little thought to a potential switch. Gord Hotchkiss, CEO of Enquiro Search Solutions, said “For Microsoft-Yahoo to disrupt the Google habit, they have to offer a compelling enough reason to do the cognitive heavy lifting required to break a subconscious habit.” Bing will need to change its casual users into faithful ones.

Microsoft and Yahoo! may also be confronted with antitrust issues as a result of their agreement. The question posed by the partnership is whether or not online advertisers will benefit more with a single, more powerful rival to Google when compared to two less threatening foes. It will be challenging for regulators to make a case due to the fact that the number two and three competitors are joining forces (as opposed to the top two in a market). Legal officials are not expected to complete a review until 2010.

While nothing has changed dramatically since the agreement, competition among search engines is sure to remain strong.

Google Revamps System with Caffeine Update

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Google has introduced Caffeine, a new and improved version of its search platform (the update is currently available for use under an alternative link). The move is described as an “under the hood” update, meaning that nothing will change externally, and the average user will not recognize much of a difference.

Google Caffeine has proven to be more effective at incorporating recent information such as news stories into its top results. The update has also made Google search slightly faster. In his blog, Google software engineer Matt Cutts reiterated that the update will not bring extreme change: “This update is primarily under the hood: we’re rewriting the foundation of some of our infrastructure. But some of the search results do change, so we wanted to open up a preview so that power searchers and web developers could give us feedback.”

The update may begin to address Google’s challenge to incorporate real time search. Results from social websites like Twitter are more common, but Microsoft’s Bing seems to still have the upper hand in this regard. There have been past talks of Google and Twitter working on a real time search deal.

Experts see the update as a response to the recent Microsoft/Yahoo! search deal, but Google says that the move has been in works for months. Google may control nearly 75 percent of the search market, but it is not about stop working on new innovations. “Nobody cares more about search than Google, and I don’t think we’ll ever stop trying to improve, Cutts said.”

Google Search Results Take On New Look

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Quick update regarding Google search result pages. The sponsored link ads to the right of the organic listings now appear closer to the natural search result listings. В I’m fond of this change because the ads appear more in plain sight and are less likely to be overlooked by one’s eye. В This bodes well for advertisers using Google AdWords.

Is Apple Search on the Way?

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

The recent resignation of Google CEO Eric Schmidt from Apple’s Board of Directors has rekindled the idea of Apple building a search engine of its own. Both companies are competitors on various fronts. For example, Google’s Chrome browser competes against Apple’s Safari, and Google’s android operating system for smartphones contends with Apple’s iPhone system.

A major reason tech experts assume Apple is launching search is due to a struggle to obtain a search function on the iPhone. A unique search engine would fit hand-in-hand with Apple’s Safari web browser. Apple may have missed out on an opportunity now that Microsoft and Yahoo! have negotiated a search deal, but the introduction of a new search tool could bring a third party into the race for search superiority.

A change could take users away from Google, which is currently the default search tool for Safari. Many Apple fans would make the switch, which could account for up to five percent of the search market, along with all iPhone users.

Despite the potential gains, Apple Search remains a rumor, as there is little proof of the company organizing a search program. Another possibility is a search engine with results powered by Google. A partnership could make sense. Google already pays Apple from earnings through Safari, and Apple could also use help in advertising.

While Apple does want to improve the search options for devices like the iPhone, the introduction of a full-fledged search engine seems unlikely at the moment. However, the possibility of a search partnership with Google is interesting, potentially giving Google an ally in its battle with Bing and Yahoo! while also certainly brining up antitrust whispers.