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 .co.uk. 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.

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.

 

My Tree Lot Finder: Find Your Perfect Christmas Tree

My Tree Lot Finder

My Tree Lot Finder

Looking for that perfect holiday tree? The lots seem to pop up within 24 hours of Thanksgiving. But which one do you go to?

A new application has hit the Android market. My Tree Lot Finder ™ can help you find the best tree lots; those “Mom and Pop” lots that use quality trees for best selection. That way, you don’t have to search for hours to find that perfect tree.

The app helps you not only save time and money by locating the perfect tree, but also gives you care instructions for your new purchase. That way, if you are a N00b when it comes to trees, you don’t have to act like one.

“Have you ever headed out after dark to find that perfect tree?  Kids in tow?  The first lot you go to had nothing but dead and dried trees,” says Wayne Irving II, creator of My Tree Lot Finder. “ Wouldn’t it be nice to know where the next tree lot to you is?  So you are not driving further than you have to?”

You can search trees by Zipcode or just scour the map within the app. Target a lot and get driving directions. It will also let you know where the tree farms are and where the non-profit lots (like Boy Scouts, fund-raising lots, etc) are located.

Some lots also have other amenities, such as selling ornaments or if the tree farms have other cool events like hay or pony rides, if they also offer things like Yule logs, wreaths or more.

The application is only available for Android at this time. The parent company – Iconosys - is a member of the National Organization for Youth Safety (NOYS).

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 https://www.google.com/, 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.

A Different Kind of Search Engine Optimization

Magnifying GlassI really hate it when I go to a website, especially a complex one, and try to use their search box to find something that I know is there.

This has happened to me a lot lately, and it makes me wonder who is making the mistake.  Or maybe I’m just too “googled” to put up with poor search engine results these days.  I mean, really, when I go to google and put in a search term, I usually get what I’m looking for within the first half-dozen results.

If you can’t match that level of accuracy, why are you even bothering?

Recently, I attempted a search for an on-campus conference on a college website.  The particular conference has happened every year for 20 years.  You would think a quick search using the college’s own search engine would have returned a result.  You’d be surprised to find out that it didn’t.  In fact, no amount of me putting in various terms and combinations of terms got me a result I could use.  Oddly enough, when I went to google and tried there, it gave me an immediate link.  The problem, as I can tell, is with the bazillion sub-domains on this particular college’s website.  None of these sub-domains seem to know the others exist.

The other place I’ve seen this issue is on news website.  They are using various search engines, none of them google-driven, and the results are very very poor.  It is frequent that I am looking for an article I read recently (within the last two weeks or so) and instead of dragging through my history on my browser to find it, I just go to the site and type in key words that should bring up the article.  I get a list of articles, usually over six months old, with those key words, but not what I’m looking for.  Continuing to refine the search terms doesn’t seem to help.

If you’re going to bother to have  search box on your website, at least bother to make sure it actually works as intended.  If it doesn’t work, figure out why it doesn’t, and fix it.  There is no point in offering false hope to users in providing the box if it’s not going to work as intended.

This isn’t 1993, when the best search engine available was Alta Vista.  There are plenty of choices, and part of your web site design should be checking for the accuracy and effectiveness of your search engine.  If you’re not going to do that, why bother?

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 google.com, 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 images.yahoo.com.

 

Google Buys 1,000 IBM Patents to Protect Itself

Google

Google

Why Would IBM want to sell their patents? And to Google, nonetheless?

Think of it this way – You’re at a garage sale and you see a box of comic books (or records if you are not a comic nut). You buy the box for $20, hoping there is a valuable comic (record) in there. You pull out the important ones and what is left is a box of comics you don’t care about.

IBM has been gobbling up different companies throughout the years and some of the patents are like the odd comic books. Nortel is a great example – IBM had over 6,000 patents that they didn’t need. Therefore in May, they decided to auction off those patents that didn’t pertain to them. Google didn’t win that bidding war.

But , according to SEO by the Sea, IBM last week did find 1,030 patents that they sold to Google for an undisclosed sum. It was a hodge-podge of patents – from fabrication to database structures. These are patents that could keep Google from going to the courts for their Android devices, new products coming out on the market and other threats to future revenue.

It’s also a case of Google picking out the ones they need, then keeping a couple in the back pocket for future need (whether for selling or future projects). A couple of those patents relate to search methods. It will be interesting how that effects other search engines like rival Bing.

We’ll have to wait and see how Google utilizes these patents.

“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 www.wdyl.com. 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.