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October 19, 2005

Comments

Gary

MSN Search was late to the game but I agree that betting against them is ill advised.

Google has a major advantage that people have been using them as the de facto standard for searching. If you ask a person to look something up on the web they will almost always pull up Google or secondly Yahoo. You hear "Google It" becoming the generic phrase or brand name for performing a search. Google has deeply embedded themselves on websites and blogs everywhere through their AdSense program. Google has to be given credit for this.

It would be interesting to know where MSN Search gets most of their traffic from, what are the referring URLs. Is the traffic coming from MSN.com or is it coming from random URLs. If the traffic is coming from random URLs that would be a good indicator that people are seeking out MSN Search to perform searches but if the referring URLs are MSN.com or MSN.com sub-domains I would venture a guess that people are using MSN Search because it's in their face, it's on their browsers default home page. MS may win the people that have MSN as their home page but they need to find a way to get people to put MSN Search into their minds as the search to use.

MSN Search will also feel the effects of the different OS users, Windows, Mac and Unix(Linux, et al). People that are in the Unix camp will just not use anything that is MS.

Google, Yahoo and MSN Search return essentially the same set of results for a given search, it really boils down to MS finding a way to break the "brand naming" that Google is establishing before it gets too deeply entrenched in peoples minds.

It is interesting to note the similarities between Google - http://www.google.com and Yahoo Search - http://search.yahoo.com.

Sorry about the long comment.

Will

Great commentary. For a quick eye opener head over to dogpile.com, search for something and then open up the yahoo & google results side by side. Awfully close. Google is the de facto search due to user perception. I work with users concerning enterprise search, and everyone wants a 'Google' like search. But when I ask them how relevant are their results they get at google they cannot answer. It's all perception.

I think the next step in search is actually going to be away from the pure algo driven results and will again include human input. It has to, until an algo can put context around one or two words it will be impossible to deliver the results that people are coming to expect.

What interests me most about Don's post is the reference to how great Page Rank is and continues to be. The question I ask is, what is the next page rank? What's going to put page rank out of business? It's going to happen, it's a matter of who/what/when.
Exciting stuff.

Mark

One confusion here is concerning PageRank. There remains scant academic evidence that PR improves search, for example. It makes for a convenient soundbyte, though. If you go back to the original Google paper, you will note that structural analysis, URL weighting and other factors dominate. In general, I think there is a subclass of ranking events for which PR is valuable, but they are very much a minority. The other factor that G and Y (and presumably MSN) use to improve results is to identify noisy sites (and spam) using learning techniques--note that this predates the link spamming methods.

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