Real-Time Challenges for Google and Bing

About seven years ago, I gave a speech at a conference that focused on an analogy of the “New Neighborhood.” I find that same theme and feeling of “newness” we see with social media, especially as it relates to search, more relevant than ever. I started thinking about the questions I want to ask the search and social celebs at the Online Marketing Summit Keynote in Seattle and Portland next week, better known as Mike Grehan and Rand Fishkin on the hottest of topics, real-time search. So allow me to harken back…

Seven years ago, searching on the Net (À la Google) was like moving to a new neighborhood. When you moved in and needed to figure out where the local hardware store or dry cleaners was located, you opened your friendly yellow pages and found some local folks to serve your needs. Right? Same when you did a search on Google, you looked for a site that could serve your needs.

Now, when you go to that dry cleaner and see the grocery store, book store, etc…they’re all in the same little strip mall conveniently located a few blocks from your house, you need not open the yellow pages to find such facilities, you found a good destination. Same applies to Google, when looking for say a good trip to take for a long holiday weekend, you now know, sites like TripAdvisor are the place to start, or to buy a book, Amazon…and on it goes. So, the volume of searches, over time will decrease, as we get to know this new neighborhood called the World Wide Web.

Even more interesting today is the new neighborhood of social: the breaking news on Twitter, the interesting updates on Facebook and now LinkedIn, the ability to customize feeds through RSS, and the increasing use of filters on Facebook and who you follow on Twitter. So, as we explore and find more controls over relevancy, we’ll have our news and information pushed directly to us vs. exploring the world of blue links À la Google. Right? We’ll spend more time reading what our friends recommend than what Google recommends via a mathematical algorithm. Our long-term information needs are delivered to us right to our phone, iPad, or now ancient computer.

Let’s take this a step further. For something to be relevant in news, personal interest, or professional needs, it needs to be either “timely” or “referable.” Search engine crawlers, by design, take time. They crawl, they index, they crawl again, index again, and then compute and finally rank and re-rank…so real-time news on Twitter really can’t have relevant real-time results from a time-delayed algorithm. It’s the same issue for referrals and reviews for products and services. The quality of content on a website is not a reflection of the quality of the product.

The most telling of all is what the research says about where we spend our time.

  1. Compare time spent on Google vs. Facebook. Any advertising agency knows the value of such.
  2. Look at how we consume information on Twitter vs. Google.
  3. See where we allow preferences and recommendations of friends and connections to drive our decisions.
  4. Finally, look at you own behavior and what drives your buying habits.

Last but not least is trust. We all used to trust Google and by no means has it done anything on search results to make us think the results are untrustworthy, but, do you trust a tweet from a friend or follower over a Google result? Do you even trust the results of the top ranked pages or are you more skeptical? For most, the latter is true. Do you trust the recommendation of a friend on Facebook over Bing results? I don’t think so.

Welcome to the new neighborhood where trust is king. Content, actually, for once isn’t.


Mike Grehan, VP, global content director at Incisive Media, publisher of Search Engine Watch and ClickZ and producer of the Search Engine Strategies international conference series, shared these observations: “What search engines have achieved during the past decade is incredible. But the sheer amount of user-generated content such as video and social networking sites has crawler technology defeated. It’s simply not possible to crawl and index at the same rate as the content is created. This means it’s always likely that there’s an alternate set of results (perhaps better) outside of the crawl that are simply not discovered in time to be relevant.

“The Web is a hugely wealthy source of information and provides a great archive. But real-time information needs to be captured at source. And this is why we’ll see not just a change in the way search engines provide results from multi-modal sources. But also a change in the way the end user retrieves information.”

Meet Aaron, Mike, and Rand at the Online Marketing Summit, a partner of ClickZ. Mike will speak at the summit in Seattle on June 14, 2010, and Portland, OR, on June 16, 2010; Rand will be speaking at the Seattle event.

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