Google Testing Banner Ads? Goodbye 2005 Decree…

Back in 2005 Google created an enhanced strategic partnership with AOL, which caused some rumblings. Google’s blog (a post by Marissa Meyer, who was VP of Search Products & User Experience at the time) cleared up some misconceptions – including not putting banner ads on their search site. However, times are changing and Google has to look at all possibilities for continued growth. That includes banner ads.

The AOL partnership mostly brought on concern that AOL search results would get priority and bias competitors. Google posted it’s reply to most of those, including:

There will be no banner ads on the Google homepage or web search results pages. There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping up all over the Google site. Ever.

Ever is a big word. While Google is probably still not going to place “crazy, flashy, graphical doodads”, there might be some other product placement on Google search results.

Google's testing simple banner ads

Google’s testing simple banner ads

Google confirmed they were testing images on top of search results. This is to make up for falling ad prices and slower desktop search results. While images on top of a page might not be called “banner ads” per se, it kinda feels like a banner ad.

Of course, Google runs tests all the time. Therefore it goes to see how people would react to an image at the top of the screen.

It’s also an ad that shows up if you are looking for air travel or information on Southwest. So if you are looking for it anyway, would an ad at the top be invasive?

Ads have been on Google for a while – in text formats to the right. It’s part of Google’s “Multi-year evolution” – adding text ads and videos to the site.

It’s all about a lack of mobile ad solution to search, since people are switching to their phones and those dedicated apps. After all, how many of us did a search for Facebook or Twitter and clicked on the link in the search results to get to the website?

Google Quietly Released Hummingbird

GoogleThe new version of the Google search algorithm is called “Hummingbird”. It has already been released. For whatever reason, Google decided not to make a specific announcement about the release of the new algorithm before switching over to it. For good or ill, it has already affected how your blog is placed in order of the results that appear whenever someone does a Google search.

The purpose of Hummingbird is, in short, to keep up with how people use the internet. Many people will type an entire phrase into the search engine, instead of just one word, when they are looking for information about something.

This means that the algorithm has to “understand” the entire meaning of each word in the phrase, and how they relate to each other. Once it “gets” what you are looking for, it can show you websites that match what you are hoping to find. Things have gotten too complex for a “Boolean” type of search system.

In other words, “Hummingbird” has been designed to give us better results when we do a Google search. This is because it is going to “get” the meaning and context of what you typed in the search engine.

Overall, I see this as a good thing. My hope is that this will bring the blogs, articles, and websites that have the best content (based upon your query) to the top of the list. I cannot help but wonder if the blogs that have been crafted in ways that were designed around SEO, but that lack quality content, will notice a drop in their page clicks soon as a result of Hummingbird.

AltaVista is Shutting Down

AltaVista logo Remember AltaVista? I was quite surprised to learn that it was still in existence. Many of us have moved on to other search engines since AltaVista was created. If you are feeling a sense of nostalgia about AltaVista, you should probably go use it soon. Its days are numbered.

Yahoo! acquired AltaVista in 2003. Yahoo! has announced several of the upcoming product closures. AltaVista will shut down on July 8, 2013.

The announcement suggests that people visit Yahoo! Search “for all your searching needs”. That’s one alternative to AltaVista. I suspect that most people are probably using Google for their “searching needs”. Bing is another option.

Typically, when a company shuts down something that had been offered for years, there is some public outcry from the people who are currently using it. Most of the news I’ve read about AltaVista expresses surprise that it has survived for this long.

Gmail in Google Search

Gmail in Search When I opened up Google search page this morning I noticed that on the right hand side of the screen are the words Gmail results. I had signed up for this when it was offered back in the beginning of August. First a little background, I work from home and I am the only one that uses the computer. So I don’t have some of the security concerns that other people might have. However if I was using my computer at a coffee shop there are several ways to turn the option off. The first is on the page itself.   If you go up to the small globe on the right hand side of the windows just below the search bar and click on it, this will hide those results. The second way is to click on the gear and go to your search setting and go down to Personal results and click on “Do not use personal results”.

If you choose to keep show personal search on and you click on Gmail results it will take you to the search results on your Gmail page. If you click on “show results” you can view the subject line of the last five messages with that search word in the subject line. If you do a search for an individual you will get the subject line of the last five messages they sent you. If you click on one of the subject lines a page with that email message or conversation will appear.

There are a few things that I noticed while using it for short period. The first is the words have to match exactly including capitalization. The second is when you first start using it, it is not clear what does what until you click on it. On good side until you click on a choice nothing shows, so you don’t have to worry about Gmail results just popping up. If you are on a public computer and you are signed into your Google account and you are worried about clicking on it accidentally, I would recommend turning the option off.  It will not be available to Google App accounts. Finally I did not receive an email confirmation, it just appeared

Have You Noticed Google’s New “I’m Feeling Lucky” Button?

Perhaps Google’s most famous button, and there aren’t many on their stark homepage, is the “I’m feeling lucky” option.  The option has been with the search engine since pretty much the beginning of their existence, way back at Stanford in the 1990’s.  Thanks to modern browser updates like “instant”, the “I’m feeling lucky” option has become nothing more than a nostalgic option.

Now Google has conceded the option, turning it into what amounts to an “Easter Egg”.  When you visit the Google homepage and hover your mouse pointer over the button it will spin like a slot machine and land on one of a few options such as “I’m feeling stellar”, “I’m feeling hungry”, “I’m feeling doodly”, and several others.

Each option takes users to a different search result – for instance, the “I’m feeling hungry” button launches a search for local restaurants in the user’s area.

It seems the “I’m feeling lucky” button is officially gone forever, which at this point isn’t a great loss.  The Google homepage hasn’t changed much over the years, so this is the biggest deal since the menu bar across the top of the screen began it’s evolution.

Yahoo Updates Image and Video Search

You may have written off Yahoo search, but the company themselves haven’t yet given up, even though they have outsourced most everything to Bing.  Today the former leader of the industry rolled out a brand new version of their video and image search.  Yahoo has strengthened their partnership with Getty Images to help power the new features.

Getty brings with them access to some of the highest quality images and they claim about 20,000 new images added daily and material from some of the highest-profile photographers.  In addition to the new images there are new features to go along with them.  Both image and video search have a brand new tiled thumbnail look.  The thumbnails become larger when hovered on, much like Bing and Google have been doing for some time.  Also borrowed from search competitors is the infinite scroll feature that Yahoo has now introduced.  There are also two new filters on the left column – HD and Recent.  “For images, the HQ badge identifies photos with at least 2 megapixels and a 1024 x 768 aspect ratio. For Yahoo! HQ videos, we use adaptive streaming technology to optimize your viewing experience by continuously adjusting the quality of the streamed Yahoo! hosted video to match the capabilities of your network and device.”  Users can also search in the right column while watching a video in the main part of the screen.

 

The new features seem to be rolling out and not all users have access to them right now.  To see more images of the new features you can head over to the Yahoo blog.

Lionel Richie is the Latest Google Search Easter Egg

Over the past several weeks a number Easter eggs have popped up in Google search, such as the “barrel roll”, “let it snow”, and “zerg rush” – if you don’t understand then do a search for each of those phrases, although the first two seem to no longer be active.  The latest one has to do with 80’s singing icon Lionel Richie and a line from one of his most famous hit songs.

When you search for “Lionel Richie” you will get a fun little result to the right side of the general search results.  I won’t spoil it here, you’ll have to find out for yourself, but if you don’t remember his hit songs then it probably won’t mean anything.  You will also need to spell his name exactly.  Google will correct misspellings, but will only show the basic results in that case.

What other fun Easter eggs are out there waiting to be discovered?  If you have one then let us know in the comments below.  As far as I know only Google is throwing these things into search, but if you see one in Bing or Yahoo then let us know that as well.

Google Expands Gmail Search, Is It Too Much?

Google today announced better search integration for Gmail, their popular web-based email service.  The new and improved version will have a more thorough auto-complete feature thanks to better crawling of the messages in your email.  Better search sounds great, but is it really better or is it just a more complete privacy invasion?

While I don’t have any real problem with Google reading my email, they have been doing it all along anyway, this seems like something that privacy advocates, already leery of the Mountain View search company, will latch onto as more evidence against Google.  After all, the better auto-complete comes via better reading of your messages.  Google admits as much in their announcement – “Now when you type something into the Gmail search box, the autocomplete predictions will be tailored to the content in your email, so you can save time and get the information you want faster than ever before.”

The new feature will be rolling out over the next few days.  For now it’s only available for English users, but Google promises support for other languages will be coming over the next several months.  You can read their announcement over at the Gmail blog.  How do you feel about this improved email search?  Do you think it’s just a feature to make the service more useful or are you genuinely worried about your personal data?

Opinion Time: What Do You Think of the New Bing?

Bing has rolled out their brand new interface, at least to U.S. users, and it has met with mixed reviews.  While the new interface feels faster and Microsoft claims gives better results, the social aspects, mainly Facebook results in the right column, are a big change that takes some getting used to and also feel vaguely like a privacy invasion.

Paul Thurrott, writing over at WinSupersite, said he had problems getting the service to work and had to try three different browsers before being successful.  Using Chrome I had no problems with the new Bing on the first try, but your results may vary.

By default, bing.com/new takes you to a search results page for the subject “movies” and you will find recommendation from your Facebook friends appearing to the right of the main search results.

On the whole I found the new interface to be a bit more appealing than the previous version, although if you use Google for the simple, clean look then this probably isn’t for you  So, have you tried out the new Bing?  What do you think?  Let us know in the comments below.

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.

April-Search-Market-Share-Report

comscore april 12