International Writers Magazine: Search
What we tend to forget
is that Google is not the only search engine out there. Yahoo, Freefind,
MSN and Ask all vie for business. For the vast majority, Google is the
first port of call online when we need an answer, because we know we can
rely on the results. That is why we return to use it again and again,
and why its market share is still increasing, even though it has
more competitors than ever. But is it as ubiquitous as we think? Are there
worthwhile competitors out there, and what can they offer that Google
We all know,
and most of us love, Google. It is by far the most visited website
in the UK, accessed over three times more often than the second
placed site. It is a business that has true global presence and
is ingrained as a household name. Not many other brands have become
part of everyday language and taken their place in the Oxford English
Nov 2007 USA/Canada
To a certain extent, the success of Google is down to it being in the
right place at the right time. The founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page,
realised that the burgeoning World Wide Web would become a useless minefield
of disparate information unless it was catalogued and searchable. Their
vision was first formed at Stanford University, and culminated in Google
being released from beta status on 21st September, 1999.
Whilst other companies spent millions on marketing and brand building
exercises, Google relied purely on providing an excellent service and
superior technology to ensure organic growth almost entirely down to word
of mouth. This has served Google well, and since its launch the
growth rate has been nothing short of phenomenal. Last years financial
results tell the tale: 2006 saw revenue of $10.6 billion.
There is a prevailing culture among the tech-savvy underworld that large
corporations are somehow malevolent. Microsoft has suffered greatly due
to this opinion; Indeed there are many websites dedicated to anti-Microsoft
sentiment. With Google, however, things were different. The founders cannily
latched on to the zeitgeist, and adopted the unofficial slogan "Dont
be Evil". This simple phrase was promoted as the central core of
their ideal. Users liked this, and flocked to the fledgling site in droves.
The varnish has come off this edifice recently due to Googles self-imposed
censorship in China, but overall, it is still a trusted brand.
So who are Googles competitors in the cut throat world of search?
Some of the popularity of the other engines could be down to their placement
within "parent" sites. For example, Yahoo search not only has
its own page (search.yahoo.com), but is also embedded in the portal
www.yahoo.com the worlds most visited website. It would therefore
be fair to assume that some of the search traffic was down to "convenience
users" people who were within Yahoo portal and used their
search as it was convenient to do so. Indeed, only 13% of visitors to
a Yahoo.com site went directly to the search.yahoo.com page.
Google differs in this respect, in that the parent site is a simple search
box on a simple, fast-loading white page. There are no other reasons to
visit the site than to search. This simplicity of purpose appealed to
users who were looking for answers quickly.
This has begun to change though, with the advent of iGoogle in May 2005.
This is a personalised homepage that users can add content, gadgets, and
web feeds to. The page contains a Google search box, so again it could
be assumed that some searches are driven from here.
Googles competitors currently face the issue of how to improve on
a service that many consider to be excellent. The ultimate goal is to
serve the most pertinent, useful and up to date data based on a users
query. The focus is now on filtering results, for example, removing pages
from commercial enterprises when a user is searching purely for information.
This is most easily explained by Yahoo Mindset, a beta page located at
Once the search has been performed, the user is empowered to adjust the
result set to be biased towards "shopping" or "researching".
To find out where the future lies, Google Labs (labs.google.com) is a
fascinating area and highlights the astonishing number of projects and
new technologies that the company is focusing on. Google label this site
as a "technology playground", allowing their developers a playpen
to showcase ideas to the public. One of its most recent additions
allows users to see an alternate view of results, such as in a timeline.
Searching for "Thomas Jefferson" shows a timeline of results
ordered by date you can try it here: http://www.google.com/experimental/.
This of course would be far more useful to a researcher than a "normal"
It seems therefore that search is beginning to become tailored to individuals,
who are increasingly demanding and expecting quick answers to their ever-increasing
number of queries.
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.