Category Archives: search

Bing Gains Market Share, Yahoo Loses Again

The latest search market share numbers have been released and two trends have continued – Bing is up and Yahoo is down.  The numbers have been posted by both Compete and ComScore and the trends shown by both are very similar.  Unfortunately for Microsoft, while Bing is gaining share on Yahoo, they are not getting anywhere in their battle against Google, who continue to be the 600 pound gorilla in the room.

Google, while maintaining their strangle-hold, has not seen an increase since late 2011, but that changed between March and April when their market share increased from 65.5% to 65.9% according to Compete rankings.  Meanwhile, ComScore showed a slight Google decrease from 66.4% to 65.5%.

According to Compete Bing increased their share from 18.0% to 18.3% and Yahoo dropped from 15.7% to 15.0%.  ComScore listed the changes as Yahoo being down from 13.7% to 13.5% and Bing with a slight increase from 15.3% to 15.4%.

While the slight increases for Bing sound promising it seems that most of the gain come at the expense of Yahoo and not Google.  That isn’t so good since Bing now powers Yahoo search.  Bing has recently released a series of updates that add better search results, functionality, and interface which could lead to another increase when the May numbers are released.  You can check out both share rankings posted below.


comscore april 12

Cultural Difference Image Engine Yields Interesting Results

This is a simple concept – a search engine that returns Google image results for the same search term from countries across the globe. The results are pretty compelling. Be forewarned – you could end up losing a decent amount of time to this site once you get started.

This Cultural Difference Image Engine (the site itself lacks explanatory info, so I’m making that name up) appears to be the work of a seasoned activist and tech veteran Aaron Swartz and accomplished artist Taryn Simon. The effect is to get a glimpse of what Google users in other countries see when they use the search engine. The results range from brow-furrowing to hilarious.

Based on the several dozen search queries I submitted, the clear winners for substance and style here are North Korea (spoiler alert – almost all results have nothing to do with what you searched for) and Syria, followed closely by France and Iran. Heck, they can all be pretty weird.

If you’re having a tough time figuring out where to start, you can get some pretty odd results from some foreign nations when you type in names of food. You’re on your own from there.

Image: Search Button from BigStock Photo

People Search For Facebook?

Experian Hitwise LogoBusiness intelligence company Experian Hitwise recently released the top 10 searched for brands in the UK. Top of the pile came internet giants Facebook, YouTube and eBay with four British brands showing; catalogue store Argos, fashion shop Next, news and media organisation the BBC and tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail.

Here’s the full top 10.

  1. Facebook
  2. YouTube
  3. eBay
  4. Amazon
  5. Argos
  6. BBC
  7. Google
  8. Hotmail
  9. Daily Mail
  10. Next

According to Hitwise, around 2% of all searches in the UK were for “facebook”, and variants such as “facebook login” and “fb” made three of the top 10 searches overall.

While it’s not 100% clear from the press release how the data was gathered and what search engines were involved, the research suggests that lots of people use search engines in preference to the address bar, even when the web page is simply the brand plus .com or You can begin to see why there is so much money to be made from advertising in search: every time one of these people goes to a web site, they’re using Google, Bing or Yahoo to get there.

Frankly, the one that really amazes me is “google” at #7. People are using search to find a search engine? This doesn’t make sense and my only thought is that large numbers of people don’t know that it’s possible to reset their default search engine (or home page). Consequently, they’re using Bing to find Google instead of changing the settings in their web browser. Amazing. If anyone has any alternative thoughts, let me know in the comments.

Why Google Search Will Never Replace a Library

LibraryThe other day, as I was working on editing the most recent novel I’ve drafted, I realized there was just something I could not find on Google.  I’m a big fan of “getting it right” when it comes to how people interact in a novel, and I needed to understand better how men interact with each other, how they talk to each other, what gets said and what goes unsaid.  Not being a man, I am a bit clueless.

So off to Google I went to search.  And there I stopped.  What the heck was I searching for?  What search terms should I put in, how could I word it so I could get the most appropriate results?  I’m a geek and a tech; I spend many of my waking hours in front of a computer screen.  I do much of my research online, and have for years.  I know good information from bad information, and know to check a URL and the “about” pages when looking at any information online to determine if it is legitimate information, or just opinion.

But this search was going to stump me.  There was no really good way to search for this online and get what I needed.  I grabbed the car keys, a pad of paper and pen, and headed the twenty blocks or so off to my local library.  We only have one library in our town, but it’s an exceptionally good one.  They even have a herd of reference librarians sitting at the ready for any question that comes along.  My steps never faltered, and I soon stood in front of the reference desk.  In three sentences, I described what I was looking for, and before I was done the librarian was out of her seat and leading me into the stacks.  She first took me to the relationship section, where I found books on how to talk to men, how men think, and why women and men have a different “language.”  Then she led me to the theatrical section, where she showed me books full of monologues from plays, even suggesting a few directly.  Lastly, we ended up in the “how to write a novel” section.

This search took less time than it took me to drive to the library in the first place.  And I walked out with a half-dozen very promising resources that I’ve spent the last two weeks going over.  I know more than I ever thought I would about men and how they talk to each other, what is said and what is often unsaid.  Eye-opening.

And while I may have been able to eventually find the information online, if I’d figured out how to search for it, it was much easier, and less time-consuming to just hit the original search source:  my local library and an educated reference librarian.

When was the last time you were in a library?

Yahoo Reveals Top 10 Searches of 2011

Yahoo today announced the 10th anniversary edition of their Year in Review.  The top 10 searched terms are a general barometer of the year, giving insight into the biggest products, news stories, and celebrities.  Yahoo boasts about 700 million unique monthly users, so these results do provide a pretty good overview of the hot topics of the year.  Yahoo has made their Year in Review available “in 17 versions including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Philippines, Spain, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and United States”

Surprisingly, at least to me, was that the most searched for term of 2011 wasn’t a celebrity or a news story, but a tech item – the iPhone.  It was the first physical object to garner the number one spot since the Playstation 2 did in 2002.  Britney Spears is the only multi-time winner, being number one in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.  The Apple phone was the only non-news, non-person to to make the top ten list.  Beyond it, you will find a mix of names, mostly celebrities along with a couple from news stories.  Only one event made this year’s list – the Japan earthquake.

Here are top ten most searched for terms of 20, based on Yahoo’s data.

  1. iPhone
  2. Casey Anthony
  3. Kim Kardashian
  4. Katy Perry
  5. Jennifer Lopez
  6. Lindsay Lohan
  7. American Idol
  8. Jennifer Aniston
  9. Japan earthquake
  10. Osama bin Laden

You can get a lot more data and lots of different lists by visiting the Yahoo Year in Review.


Search Data and Browsing History Used As Evidence

Google Logo
The murder trial of Jo Yeates is front page news throughout the UK – a neighbour Vincent Tabak is accused of killing her. At the moment, the prosecution is presenting its case and a couple of interesting things have emerged as evidence.

In particular, the prosecution has alleged that the defendant:

  • looked at Wikipedia for the definitions of murder and manslaughter.
  • searched for the maximum penalty for manslaughter, i.e. how many years in jail.
  • looked up definitions for sexual assault and sexual conduct.
  • searched maps showing the area where the body was later found.
  • searched on CCTV cameras in street where both the defendent and victim lived.
  • use Google StreetView to view the same area.
  • researched criminal forensics, fingerprinting and DNA evidence.
  • read news stories on the investigation into the disappearance  of the victim.

Of course, it will be up to the jury to decide whether these are good indicators of guilt, but regardless it’s clear that if someone is accused of a crime then there’s a pretty thorough examination of one’s computers and on-line behaviour. Obviously this case is about a very serious crime but it’s almost a gift to the prosecution when put together like this: can you think of any good reason to access this material at the time of the disappearance? However, this is circumstantial evidence and needs to be weighed as such.

On a related note, Google has announced that if you are signed-in to Google when you search, you will automatically use, the secure version of Google Search. While this will prevent casual snooping on your search, Google will be keeping hold of your search information so that it can better serve you adverts. And how long does Google keep the search information? Indefinitely or until you remove it. So while on the face of it encrypted search is a good thing, it comes at the price of Google knowing yet more about you.

I suspect that in the current murder trial, all the computer forensics team had to do was look back through the defendant’s browser history. Easy if there’s only one computer, but more difficult if the person has a home computer, work laptop, smartphone and so on. If you’re tied into Google everywhere, all they’ll have to do is subpoena information from Google and get your search data in one tidy little bundle. Nice.

Google Search gets Football News, Stats, Standings, and More

It’s almost my favorite time of the year, otherwise know as football season.  And, today Google revealed that all sorts of football information, both NFL and college, is now available right in Google Search

Last week Google began bringing MLB results, but football is America’s number one sport, so it’s nice to see this partnership with ESPN evolve.  The simple announcement from Google came from software engineer Itay Maman and reads as follows:

“Just as the NFL season kicks off and you have your fantasy football league ready to go, you’ll be able to get useful information such as the latest scores, schedules, standings and stats for football-related queries in your search results. Last week, we started showing MLB results in partnership with ESPN and we’re now expanding sports live results to include the NFL. In addition to information on the football league, teams and players, you’ll also have direct links to previews, live streams, updates and game recaps. We hope to add more and more sports information on, so stay tuned. “

You can try it out by doing a Google search.  A simple search for NFL yielded results such as the schedule, fantasy football, news, players, news, and more.  Adding ESPN to the search gives you box scores right in the top your results.  You can see screenshots of both at the bottom of this post.

This is a handy way to get quick information and news without trying to navigate the NFL web site, or an app app on your phone or tablet.  As you saw in the Google announcement, they are promising even more integration is on the way.  So….Are you ready for some football?!

Google NFL search


Google NFL ESPN search

Yahoo Steps Up Image Search

yahoo image search

Yahoo announced today that they are enhancing their image search.  It has a new tiled interface, a “latest” tab for trending results, a “galleries” tab, and Facebook integration that displays pictures from your friends with your results.  The biggest change is, perhaps, the way clicked images are displayed.  According to the Yahoo announcement:

“By clicking on any image on the search results page, the image will appear on a fresh page allowing users to browse effortlessly through full-size images with a simple click on the desktop browser.”

The new tiled interface renders all images in equal size, which I actually like better than Google’s “mismatched” look.  Like Google and Bing, Yahoo enlarges an image if you hover your mouse over it.

Yahoo is also claiming that more improvements are on the way.  These changes are worth checking out because I think this may be the cleanest, prettiest image search of any of the big three search engines.  Of course, the bottom line is the results your query gets, and that remains to be seen.  You can test it out at


“In The Plex” Audible Audio Book

Controversy. The world of news seems to thrive on it, including the world of tech news.

Ever wonder what goes on inside a premier tech company like Google?

I just finished listening to “In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives” written by Steven Levy and narrated by L.J. Ganser.

“In The Plex” is all about Google – it’s employees, it’s business culture, and even it’s cafeterias. Additionally it includes behind-the-scenes accounts of major Google controversies most people will remember.

Google is one of those remarkable “Great American Company” stories that happened right under our noses within the past decade.

The unabridged “In The Plex” Audible audiobook version is 19 hours long. The narration is top-notch and the content quite entertaining. It ends with a discussion of Google’s sometimes-tumultuous, sometimes ho-hum social networking forays, along with a brief discussion of the development of “Google+” which has recently gone into a controlled roll-out to the general public.

If you were ever curious about the company behind the search engine, I recommend “In The Plex” as a means of sating that inquisitive urge.

What Do You Love?

While Google+ may have been making most of the headlines, Google also introduced “What Do You Love” at It’s a way of searching Google services such as Maps, YouTube, News, Patent Search, Blogger all at once will the results presented together.

The user interface is much as you’d expect.

The results are displayed on a single page broken up into applets showing the individual returns from each service.

Let’s say you love kittens – who doesn’t? The results for a WDYL search for kittens is shown below.

You can easily dismiss it as superficial – who cares about the popularity of kittens on the web – and the name WDYL doesn’t help. But if you were wanting to get an idea of emerging trends, say democracy in the middle east, you can see what’s happening along with (mostly) relevant books and videos from YouTube. The more you experiment with it, the more you get the feeling of how powerful a tool it is for research. There’s nothing that you couldn’t have done yourself, but by presenting everything together you can start to see synergies.

WDYL isn’t going to replace standard Google search, but if you want to go a little bit further and search beyond text, give it a try.