Posts Tagged ‘search’
Being Google can’t be easy, being asked billions of questions every day by people who want to know what ‘YOLO’ means. And if you thought your dumb Google searches were private, think again.
Each December, Google releases a ‘Zeitgeist list’ to show the real depth of the UK public consciousness, and it seems that we’re a shallow, idiotic, grasping population of numpties whose main purpose in life is to find out what twerking is.
The Miley Cyrus endorsed bum sticking out dance topped the list of Google ‘what is?’ searches, followed by ‘what is my IP?’ (good question). At the bottom of the list came the doozy ‘What is the meaning of life?’ (which came before ‘what is Zumba?’)
General searches were mostly related to tragic movie star Paul Walker, quickly followed by the iPhone 5S and the Royal Baby. Margaret Thatcher came 9th, ironically below ‘Universal Jobmatch’.
‘Our annual Zeitgeist survey provides a fascinating snapshot of our interests and obsessions for the year.’ Said Claudine Beaumont of Google UK.
Yes, and aren’t we a bunch of eejits?
Google’s rivals (the rest of the universe) have dropped a huge hint that they won’t be accepting Google’s offer to label their services in search listings. This is the latest in an attempt to settle the tediously long-running antitrust investigation by the European Commission over the internet behemoth’s market dominance.
Google’s offer was published on Thursday by EC competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia, who not only has an exciting name, but has also given rival organisations a month to respond to the proposals.
Should they be accepted, Google will have to display results in a set format within the EC. However, this doesn’t seem likely and, if that’s the case, Almunia could be obliged to issue a formal “Statement of Objections” to Google’s conduct, which will end up in more fines and Google being forced to follow a legally binding code of conduct. ‘Don’t be evil’ indeed.
This is all to do with an investigation that has been running since 2010, when Foundem, Microsoft-owned Ciao, and the French legal search engine ejustice.fr filed a complaint. Further complaints have come from independent European consumer organisation BEUC (who count Which!!! as one of their members) and they’re collectively disappointed with the proposals, saying that this won’t come close to “eradicating the current anti-competitive behaviour in what is essentially a monopoly market”.
Google are, ostensibly, being accused of rigging search results and promoting their own services such as YouTube, Maps, Shopping and Local. Proposals state that Google should be at least listing links to at least three other companies’ sites. However, BEUC said the “labelling” proposal “may even shepherd consumes towards clicking on Google services [that would be] highlighted in a frame … Labelling an infringement of competition law doesn’t prevent it being an infringement.”
Shivaun Raff, co-founder of the UK vertical search company Foundem said: “The only foolproof way to tackle abusive practices is to end them. Ultimately, the only way to end Google’s search manipulation practices and restore a level-playing field is to ensure that Google holds all services, including its own, to exactly the same standards, using exactly the same crawling, indexing, ranking, display, and penalty algorithms.”
Google have altered their algorithm for image search in a bid to filter out porn sites. That’d be the porn that Google has found to be incredibly lucrative over the years.
A Google representative told CNET: “We are not censoring any adult content, and want to show users exactly what they are looking for – but we aim not to show sexually explicit results unless a user is specifically searching for them.”
“We use algorithms to select the most relevant results for a given query. If you’re looking for adult content, you can find it without having to change the default setting – you just may need to be more explicit in your query if your search terms are potentially ambiguous. The image search settings now work the same way as in Web search.”
This change applies to the ‘SafeSearch’ setting, with the number of options being reduced from two to one, with ‘filter explicit results’ either on or off. So go in your settings and turn it to ‘on’, okay?
Of course, there are people out there who see this as nannying censorship by Google, with Reddit users running into hundreds of pages in their bid to give tips on how to navigate around this new algorithm.
One Reddit user shouted: ”What is this? communism?! BRING BACK THE PORN!”
Google has overhauled their search engine despite the fact it worked perfectly well and no-one really complained about how it could do more.
So what have they done? Well, sounding like something from an Isaac Asimov story, they’ve developed something called the Knowledge Graph, which Google say is a ‘more human’ search function offering answers without you having to go elsewhere online.
This new feature, which will launch in the US first, adds boxes of Wikipedia-esque information to the search results page. Google’s Amit Singhal explains: ”Language can be ambiguous-do you mean Taj Mahal the monument, or Taj Mahal the musician? [In Knowledge Graph we can] click on one of the links to see that particular slice of results.”
“This is one way it makes Google Search more intelligent – your results are more relevant because we understand these entities, and the nuances in their meaning, the way you do. For example, some of the most serendipitous discoveries I’ve made using the Knowledge Graph are through the magical ‘people also search for’ feature. One of my favorite books is The White Tiger, the debut novel by Aravind Adiga, which won the prestigious Man Booker Prize. Using the Knowledge Graph, I discovered three other books that had won the same prize and one that won the Pulitzer.”
There’s no specific launch date yet.
Once or twice a day, Bitterwallet is asked by marketing agencies if we’ll take money to add a hyperlink from our site to an external website. Sometimes the requests are dressed up as guest posts, other times they’re more blatant – add a link, take the coin. Bitterwallet is moderately well indexed by Google – because we’ve a reasonable Google ranking, if we link to a third party site then the search ranking of that site benefits.
Unsurprisingly Google frowns on this type of behaviour, because it can manipulate search results and make websites appear artificially popular. It misleads the consumer. It goes on regardless because the results are subtle and billions of sites link to billions of others as a matter of routine – who’s to say whether a recommended link is genuine or paid for?
That’s what makes the case of JC Penney so outrageous. Over the weekend, the New York Times published allegations concerning the US-based chain of superstores, about the wholesale manipulation of search results in the lead-up to Christmas last year. In a number of instances, the store was listed first for seemingly innocuous searches and specific products. For example, JC Penney somehow ranked above Samsonite for their own luggage. “Dresses”, “bedding”, “furniture”, “skinny jeans” – all were either top or in the top handful of results.
The reason is that somebody had apparently approached over 2,000 external sites and had them link particular keywords back to the JC Penney site. According to the NYT, “black dresses” and a link were found on the site nuclear.engineeringaddict.com, while the phrase “evening dresses” was linked from casino-focus.com.
Since the newspaper published their story, Google has taken action – in a search for “Samsonite carry on luggage”, JC Penney had sank from the first result to the 71st. JC Penney has also taken action – they’ve sacked their SEO company and denied having any direct involvement with the activity.
This sort of activity is nothing new, of course, but it’s worth looking out for as a consumer – if an unexpected search result appears at the top of the pile, it isn’t by accident.
Have you tried Google Instant yet? It’s irritating isn’t it? Well, this latest incarnation of the search engine has an auto-suggestion that fills in potential responses as you tap them in, one fingered.
However, there are certain things that Google really don’t want you to head toward and as such, have blacklisted them as bad words and dodgy phrases. Obviously, there are words that everyone would pretty much agree are offensive in some way. Yet, there are some really weird exclusions.
For example, Google seems to have something against ’90s grunge bands. Tap in “smells like teEn spirit” and the search will go blank at the capitalized ‘E’. Same goes for babeS in toyland (it’s also the name of a 1961 cult film). The musical oddities don’t stop there. Don’t even think about searching for “women rappIng”.
Weirder yet is that you can happily search for heterosexual, homosexual, asexual and trisexual… but alas, Google seem to have a problem with “biseXual” for some reason. And you’ll get very little out of a search for “lesBian”, which, quite frankly, is outrageous.
You’ll get little reward for searching “dick”, which is odd if you’re after reading up on Dick Whittington or Philip K. Dick stories. And, for whatever reason, Google deem hairY to be a bad word. Very odd.
Still, at least you can happily search for “oral”, “clitoral” and the incredibly charming “how to commit genocide”.
See the full list at 2600, here. You might learn a few new phrases while you read it.
While still getting to grips with the whole Meh-ness of Google TV from yesterday (or the day before – we’ve been battered into submission by the constant innovation) we’ve not got Google Instant to contend with.
If you haven’t seen or tried it yet, it’s Google searching but not as we know it. The trick is that it anticipates what you’re typing into the search box and starts giving you results before you’ve finished.
Google’s boffins reckon that the typical user spends nine seconds entering a search query and 15 seconds looking for answers. The useless, one-finger-typing bastard. They also reckon that Google Instant could shave between two and five seconds off a typical web search.
We’re not sure if it’s something that the world even needs though. We’ve had a few goes on it and it made us feel dizzy, with the vague possibility of an epileptic fit kicking in. Have a bash at it and tell us your thoughts…
Sponsored search results – sometimes those clever algorithms in the background do a perfect job of recognising a search term and pairing it with the appropriate advertiser. Other times, less so:
Either eBay are also willing to sell you a time machine as part of the deal, or they’ve discovered a way to raise the dead. Thanks to avid Bitterwallet reader Hank.
Don’t try telling us this is the result of some sophisticated mathematical algorithm. As avid Bitterwallet Tim points out, this list of suggested search results – which appears when you begin a Google homepage search with “is “ – has clearly been fabricated by somebody dicking about at Google HQ:
Wikipedia reports that Barry Chuckle is still very much alive, despite rumours of his death circulating online for the past two years. Funnier still, however, is the Wikipedia entry above it:
In April 2007, while on holiday on the Greek island of Kefalonia, Paul (Chuckle) broke his nose and received cuts and bruises when he lost control of his motorbike after suddenly braking to avoid a shepherd and his flock of goats. British tourists who stopped at the accident, instead of helping him out, shouted out the Chuckle Brothers’ catchphrase: “To me, to you.”
As part of their quest to rule the planet through technology, Google routinely buys up smaller companies, folding the resources into their own. It’ll end in Google acquiring nuclear material and the deaths of tens of millions, but until that point they’ll make do with building a search engine that can anything and everything.
The latest buzz about Google is that they’re sniffing around a firm called ITA Software. Who? They’re a US-based company that had developed the software to power price comparisons and reservation systems for several major airlines and travel websites, including American Airlines, Trip Advisor and Continental. That sort of technology could build flight prices and reservations right into Search and Maps; taking it one step further, it could also mean Google selling airline inventory, in much the same way that Google attempted with radio and now does with TV.
The figure for a possible sale being reported in the media is $1 billion; Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion so if that figure is even close to accurate, this is a massive deal to Google. How far would Google go with the technology? They probably wouldn’t attempt to sell individual seats; that would make them liable in their dealings with consumers and Google doesn’t tend to bother with that granular level of minutiae. But if they could generate real-time fare pricing and seat availability for every travel related search on Google, they could no doubt make millions in affilaite payments.
We’ve got Google and we’ll no doubt become acquainted with the real-time search capabilities of Twitter, should the often-rumoured Google/Twitter deal ever occur. But what about the rest of the search engines out there? We’ve just checked and Alta Vista still exists. Remember them? And AOL appear to be still in business, too. The battle for search has been won, though – Google accounts for 90 per cent of all requests, leaving the dozens of other pretenders to scrat about for the remaining ten per cent.
Ask.com are gagging for it, so much so that they’ve undergone yet another re-brand today, reverting to the character they scrapped three years ago to save them. Because what the technologically-crazed 21st Century world needs is the reassuring hand of a century-old valet ripped from the fiction of P. G. Wodehouse.
The site dropped Jeeves in 2006 to concentrate on portraying Google as some totalitarian overlord and Ask.com as the underground resistance. Or some such bollocks, anyway:
Two years later the marketing team realised they’d be set on fire for what they’d done, and so dropped the radicalised adverts and tried a simpler approach, as in a handheld camera filming a computer screen, and a bit of shiny Ajax code to jazz up what otherwise looked like Google.
That was just six months ago. Gotta love those marketing boys and girls. The company is now aiming to concentrate on delivering search results specific to questions asked by users, and create subtle but distinct difference between itself and Google, although there have been whispers that Ask.com have in the past used Google for their search results. You’ll still use Google regardless. Game over.