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Google Experimenting With Redesigned Search Results Page

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Google has begun testing a new design for its search engine results page, one that sports a new color scheme and a lot more white space.

A Google representative confirmed to us the company is conducting one of its user tests. As you can see from the screenshot below, the redesign results page incorporates a tweaked color scheme. The greens, purples and blues are not as harsh as the current set of colors used on Google.com.

The bigger changes focus on separating and spacing out individual search results. There is simply a lot more white space around each search result and each link. Also, each search result is divided by a dashed line.

Combined, the changes are rather dramatic for a search engine used by millions of people daily. Google is gathering data on how people react to the new changes. Those numbers will determine whether or not these changes will move out of testing and become permanent.

This isn’t the only Google experiment to make headlines this month. On Monday, the tech giant began testing Voice Search integration on Google.com.

Check out screenshot, and let us know what you think of the changes in the comments.

Screenshot courtesy of TwitPic, chanian

Source : – http://mashable.com

Chrome’s new “Speak to Search” option

Google chrome earlier had developed a software that allowed the users to talk to the browser via HTML5 code. Now, a team has come up with an extension of this software that allows this software to be used in search boxes across the web.

The extension, called “Speechify”, was developed by the Dugley Labs. Now many of the search engines display a small microphone icon right next to their search boxes. This icon when clicked allows users to “speak” what u wanted to search. Google, Bing, Youtube, Hulu are some of the sites that support this.

It is working pretty well as of now and returns exact searches for songs or sites or videos. Though there are minor hitches and glitches, like in some sites the microphone feature doesn’t work although it shows and in others it is shown at weird places like the title bar but it still works. But it works the best with Google and the Instant as it allows the users to search without using the keyboard.

This kind of feature has been used in mobiles before but to see it work on the web is interesting. As of now Chrome 11 beta supports it bu tit is expected to soon move to other builds too.

Yahoo India to Launch Search Direct within 2011

Will give predictive search results as you type keywords in the search bar

a chart to describe the search engine market

Image via Wikipedia

Like they say, better late than never.

A good half a year after Google launched interactive prediction based search feedback service Instant, Yahoo India just announced that it will launch its own version of Instant dubbed Search Direct. Don’t hold your breath yet, because the service will not be available till the second half of 2011. Just like Google’s Instant, Yahoo’s Search Direct predicts search results as you type in the keywords into the search bar. The announcement comes a week after Yahoo launched Search Direct in U.S. in the beta stage.

“The new search engine predicts search results as fast as a person types – character by character, and presents those results dynamically, generating a fast, simple search experience that goes beyond mere blue links,” said  Prabhakar Raghavan, chief scientist, senior vice-president and head of Yahoo Labs. Despite competition from Google, Yahoo reaches out to 30 million unique users per month in India, which is about 74 percent of the Indian Internet audience. Loyal Yahoo users therefore finally get one of Google’s most innovative features on the search engine of their choice.

Google’s +1 Button takes on Facebook’s Like

+1 Button helps populate recommended websites in relevant searches of your Google contacts

With everything on the Internet going social, Google has given a social spin to its search engine as well. Google has announced the +1 button, which is much similar to Facebook‘s Like button. Just like its Facebook counterpart, the +1 button lets you recommend search results to your contacts across Google’s own network, and also receive recommendations from the same. But unlike Facebook’s Like button, the recommendations will be served to the user in a more elegant and relevant fashion.

The +1 button is placed on the right side of a search result link and right next to the magnifying glass icon of the Google’s Instant Previews feature. If you think the website you’ve visited is worthy of being shared, you may use the +1 Button to share it with your Google contacts. The recommended website will then show up in your friends’ Google search results when they search for something relevant to it. Your Google contacts will be able to see that you have recommended that particular website for them and vice-versa.  Google says that the +1 button can be easily added to websites, so you can expect it to be commonplace on the Internet, enabling you to share them with your friends; pretty much like you use the Like button.

For example, if your friend recommends a particular website, about say a certain mobile phone, by clicking on the +1 button, you will find the same website recommended by your friend in your search results, the next time you hunt for a mobile phone upgrade in Google search. In a world where web search results are rife with SEO optimised pages of little relevance, it’s good to have websites recommended by someone you know and trust, and not just a by product clever optimisations designed to fool the Google algorithm.

Google product manager Rob Spiro sums that up in his blog post that explains, “Our goal at Google is to get you the most relevant results as quickly as possible. But relevance is about relationships as well as words on webpages. That’s why we recently started to include more information from people you know — stuff they’ve shared on Twitter, Flickr and other sites — in Google search results. Today we’re taking that a step further, enabling you to share recommendations with the world right in Google’s search results.”

The +1 button hasn’t been released to the public yet, but Google claims that it is been being beta tested on a controlled number of test audience. Soon enough, users will be able to sample this feature by opting in for it through Google’s experimental search site. It seems like Google is just about to break Facebook’s monopoly on recommendations, but is Google’s own social network comprising of Google contacts large enough to have any relevance over Facebook’s massive network, which makes incorporating the Like button attractive for websites? Even then, the relevance of the implementation of the +1 button into Google searches may make it more successful.

Microsoft Bing Searches Include Facebook Likes

In an answer to Google’s Twitter searches, Bing makes public likes searchable

Social networking is ubiquitous and the current trend now. It’s all pervading grip has now spread to search engines too. Google already has a social search with Twitter integrated into its results, but what’s lacking is Facebook in the social search arena. However, it isn’t for long because Facebook has partnered with Microsoft and the alliance see’s Facebook “Liked Results” being integrated into Bing searches.

Microsoft’s Bing team blog explains how it works:

While we are very excited to talk about our next development, we’re all aware that it’s all part of a longer journey. This is the first time in human history that people are leaving social traces that machines can read and learn from, and present enhanced online experiences based on those traces. As people spend more time online and integrate their offline and online worlds, they will want their friends’ social activity and their social data to help them in making better decisions. Integrating with Twitter data 16 months ago was one step, and exploring Facebook’s rich streams is another.

For those concerned about privacy, only the publicly liked links will be available on the search engine, but that still leaves the possibility of unsolicited likes by friends being included in the links. However, that is a moot point because the whole point of friend system is to have people you trust. Moreover, Bing mentions that not all Facebook “Liked Results” will not show up in searches. The partnership harks to a new trend of the social foray of the two players in the search engine market.

Google Social Search gets Tweaked

Now has more control over adding accounts privately

Search giant Google has made yet another tweak to its search engine and added Social Search results to its main search results. Earlier, Social Search results used to appear at the bottom of the page but now they will appear anywhere in the search results based on the relevance of the links.

Two years back, Google had introduced the integration of relevant public content based on the user’s social circle and called that experimental feature Social Search. This social circle comprises of social networks like Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed or LinkedIn along with websites linked in user’s Google Profile, and also the Contacts list in Gmail.

Adding Social Network links and content was already started with Bing and then immediately Google followed the same. In order to throw more personalized search results, Google has been making changes in its search engine and pretty much everything that is connected to it like the user’s account and location.

Google Social Search gets three major changes which would be reflected in the search results. Firstly, you get better control to connect your accounts to Google Profiles privately. This would certainly help many users to connect their Twitter and/or LinkedIn profiles to get more relevant search results based the social circle.

And finally, users would see annotations for the links that have been shared users of Twitter and other sites. For instance, if Techtree has shared a link via Twitter, then the annotation will appear with a small thumbnail of Techtree’s display image and text Techtree has shared this link via Twitter.

To conclude it all, Google Social Search has been tweaked to be a part of the main lot of search results with clear annotations about user who shared the link and finally more privacy control is enabled for connecting other site accounts. The update will appear in English only for the time being and Google will be rolling it out through this week.

Google, Bing Fight Over Copying Search Results

Bing denies copying search results and states that it learns from customers.

The Search Engine scene that has been dormant for a while has suddenly became active. Yesterday, Danny Sullivan, Editor of Search Engineland, posted an exhaustive account of how Google undertook a sting operation to check if Microsoft Bing was copying its search results. Basically, Google created 100 synthetic queries for a one time experiment to find out the similarity of search results between Google and Bing. Microsoft’s Harry Shum, Corp. VP for Bing called Google’s experiment a spy-novelesque stunt to generate extreme outliers in tail query ranking.

A Cold war was always on between Google and Microsoft. Both companies along with the new kid on the block, Blekko, appeared at Big Think’s even Farsight 2011: Beyond the Search Box. Many feel it’s a well executed publicity stunt by both Google and Microsoft, but it’s easy to pass judgment without referring to the details.

Amit Singhal, Google fellow, clarified on Google’s official Blog how the search giant created a honeypot consisting of 100 synthetic queries that average users won’t search for. Those queries were then checked on Internet Explorer 8 using Bing Tool bar with Suggested Sites option. Microsoft certainly uses both IE8 and Bing toolbar to collect information on users’ searches. On testing those synthetic queries, Google engineers were surprised to see the same search results appear in Bing.

In short, Google found out that Bing replicated the search results for any random query used in Google’s search Engine. The similarity of results didn’t appear immediately when the experiment began, but only over a period of a week or so. This experiment was reportedly ended in December. Hence, Shum and several others are obviously questioning why Google waited for 30 days to publish the findings. Maybe Google was taking legal advise on this matter.

Mary Jo Foley, author of All about Microsoft at ZDNet blogs, reported the same and got a reply from Microsoft’s spokesperson: We do not copy Google’s results. That didn’t seem comprehensive enough and hence followed a blog post by Harry Shum at Bing Community Blog. Shum called Google’s experiment a creative tactic.

The duel between Google and Bing over copying of search results seems to have heated up. Google wants Microsoft to stop mimicking Google. In a way it’s good, so that the errors aren’t repeated. Back in December, Google announced to bury bad merchant sites that ill-treat the consumers just to increase ranking in the search engine. So basically, in the name of Search Ranking Algorithm tweaking, Google smartly carried out the experiment. May be I am wrong, but everything is so perfectly timed like an Alfred Hitchcock novel.

Singhal told Sullivan, “It’s cheating to me because we work incredibly hard and have done so for years but they just get there based on our hard work. I don’t know how else to call it but plain and simple cheating. Another analogy is that it’s like running a marathon and carrying someone else on your back, who jumps off just before the finish line.”

At the Farsight 2011, Shum said, Google engineers helped us discover a new form of spam. I wished the Google engineers had shared that with us before they went to press. If you look at how each search engine ranks the results, Matt Cutts is referring to a few outlier examples. It’s not like we actually copied anything. We actually learn from our customers. Do you mean that Google owns the data?

Google seems to be deeply hurt with how close Bing appears. While Microsoft defends stating that users’ search behavior data has been used. This issue might soon be in court.

http://www.techtree.com/India/News/Google_Bing_Fight_Over_Copying_Search_Results/551-114354-643.html

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