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charlesarthur : search   89

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Less than half of Google searches now result in a click • SparkToro
Rand Fishkin:
<p>We’ve passed a milestone in Google’s evolution from search engine to walled-garden. In June of 2019, for the first time, a majority of all browser-based searches on Google.com resulted in zero-clicks.

<img src="https://images.sparktoro.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Paid-Organic-Zero-Click-June-2019.png" width="100%" />

Throughout this post, I’ll be using numbers from the clickstream data company, Jumpshot. They are, in my opinion, the best, most reliable source of information on what happens inside web browsers because of how they gather, process, and scale their estimates. That’s why SparkToro, and Moz (my previous company) are both customers of Jumpshot. Given all the nice things I say about them, it might sound like they’re paying me, but the opposite is true; we’re paying them. You can find more on their methodology in the endnote on this post.</p>


That 4.4% of searches leading to ad clicks is huge, in my view. I bet a lot of those are accidental on mobile, or people not realising that the first screen of mobile search results is essentially all ads and that most of the top of the desktop results are ads too.

As Fishkin also points out, Google is wriggling like mad to avoid answering this question in public, despite being asked by a US Congressman.
google  search  ads 
4 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Google to ask rivals to bid to be default search on Android phones • Bloomberg
Natalia Drozdiak:
<p>Alphabet’s Google will require rivals to bid in order to become listed as alternative search providers on Android smartphones, a move to try to keep additional antitrust scrutiny at bay.

Starting next year, Google will prompt users to make a choice between Google and three other rival options as their default search provider. Google <a href="https://blog.google/around-the-globe/google-europe/update-android-search-providers-europe/">invited search providers to bid as part of an auction</a> on the new choice screen, which will appear when a user sets up a new Android smartphone or tablet in Europe for the first time.

The European Commission, the bloc’s antitrust body, last year fined Google €4.3bn ($4.8bn) for strong-arming device makers into pre-installing its Google search and Chrome browser, giving it a leg up because users are unlikely to look for alternatives if a default is already preloaded. The EU ordered Google to change that behavior and threatened additional fines if it failed to comply.

Eric Leandri, chief executive of Paris-based search engine Qwant, called Google’s move "a total abuse of the dominant position" to "ask for cash just for showing a proposal of alternatives."

…A European Commission spokeswoman said the EU would be "closely monitoring the implementation of the choice screen mechanism" and noted that the changes allow rival search engines the possibility to strike deals with smartphone and tablet manufacturers to pre-install their services.</p>


Seems fair, as long as Google is obliged to bid, and its losing bid price goes to the winner, or distributed to the other bidders if Google has the highest bid. If the EU says it got its dominant position through monopoly abuse, why should it be allowed to continue monetising it?
google  antitrust  search  android  auction 
6 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Apple dominates App Store search results, thwarting competitors • WSJ
Tripp Mickle:
<p>Audiobooks.com, an RBmedia company, largely held the No. 1 ranking in “audiobooks” searches in the App Store for nearly two years. Then last September it was unseated by Apple Books. The Apple app had only recently begun marketing audiobooks directly for the first time.

“It was literally overnight,” said Ian Small, Audiobooks.com’s general manager. He said the change triggered a 25% decline in Audiobooks.com’s daily app downloads. The app at the time had 35,000 customer reviews and a 4.8 on the App Store’s 5-star ranking. The preinstalled Apple Books app, with no reviews or ratings, has since ranked No. 1 in searches for “audiobooks.” It also ranks first in searches for “books” and “reader.”

Apple says the No. 1 position for Books in a “books” search is reasonable, since it is an exact name match. The app was also first for “audiobooks” because of “user behavior data” and the inclusion of “audiobooks” as a keyword associated with the app, a spokesman said.

Apple’s role as both the creator of the App Store’s search engine and the beneficiary of its results has rankled developers. They contend Apple is essentially pinning its apps No. 1, compelling anyone seeking alternatives to consider Apple apps first. Such a tactic would help preserve loyalty to Apple’s mobile operating system—a key to future iPhone sales—and encourage the use of revenue-generating apps such as Apple TV and News, developers say.</p>


I'd be surprised if Apple's apps didn't do well in searches for music or books. The WSJ graphic on this is pretty impenetrable. Quite what the algorithm is, nobody knows.
apple  apps  store  algorithm  search 
7 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Facebook turned off search features used to catch war criminals, child predators, and other bad actors • Buzzfeed News
Craig Silverman:
<p>In August 2017, the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for [Libyan military commander Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli] for allegedly participating in or ordering the execution of 33 people in Benghazi, Libya. At the core of the evidence against him are seven videos, some of which were found on Facebook, that allegedly show Werfalli committing crimes. His case marked the first time the ICC issued a warrant based largely on material gathered from social media.

Now that kind of work is being put in jeopardy, according to Koenig, executive director of the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley. She said Facebook’s recent decision to turn off the features in its graph search product could be a “disaster” for human rights research.

“To make it even more difficult for human rights actors and war crimes investigators to search that site—right as they’re realizing the utility of the rich trove of information being shared online for documenting abuses—is a potential disaster for the human rights and war crimes community,” she said. “We need Facebook to be working with us and making access to such information easier, not more difficult.”

Simply put, Facebook graph search is a way to receive an answer to a specific query on Facebook, such as “people in Nebraska who like Metallica.” Using graph search, it’s possible to find public — and only public — content that’s not easily accessed via keyword searches.

Late last week, Facebook turned off several features that have long been accessible via graph search, such as the ability to find public videos that a specific Facebook user was tagged in. </p>
facebook  search  privacy 
june 2019 by charlesarthur
DuckDuckGo CEO Gabe Weinberg talks “do not track” legislation on Kara Swisher podcast Recode Decode • Vox
Eric Johnson:
<p>People don’t realize just how much they’re being tracked online, says DuckDuckGo CEO Gabe Weinberg — but he’s confident that once they learn how much tech companies like Google and Facebook are quietly slurping up their private data, they will demand a change.

“They’re getting purchase history, location history, browsing history, search history,” Weinberg said on the latest episode of Recode Decode with Kara Swisher. “And then when you go to, now, a website that has advertising from one of these networks, there’s a real-time bidding against you, as a person. There’s an auction to sell you an ad based on all this creepy information you didn’t even realize people captured.”

DuckDuckGo offers a privacy-minded search engine that has about 1 percent of the search market share in the US (Google’s share is more than 88 percent), as well as a free browser extension for Firefox and Google Chrome that blocks ad networks from tracking you. But rather than waiting for a comprehensive privacy bill to lurch through Congress over many years, he’s proposed a small, simple tweak to US regulations that might help: Make not being tracked by those networks the default, rather than something you have to opt into.

“The fact that consumers have already adopted it and it’s in the browser is just an amazing legislative opportunity, just give it teeth,” he said. “It’s actually a better mechanism for privacy laws because once you have this setting and it works, you don’t have to deal with all the popups anymore. You just set it once, and then sites can’t track you.”</p>


Weinberg is always good value. Also: DuckDuckGo is profitable; it doesn't have huge VC funding to chase to repay millions of times over.
search  duckduckgo  privacy 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
Google thought my phone number was Facebook’s and it ruined my life • VICE
Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai:
<p>In the last three days, I’ve gotten more than 80 phone calls. Just today, in the span of eight minutes, I got three phone calls from people looking to talk to Facebook. I didn’t answer all of them, and some left voicemails.

Initially, I thought this was some coordinated trolling campaign. As it turns out, if you Googled “Facebook phone number” on your phone earlier this week, you would see my cellphone as the fourth result, and Google has created a "card" that pulled my number out of the article and displayed it directly on the search page in a box. The effect is that it seemed like my phone number was Facebook's phone number, because that is how Google has trained people to think.

Considering that on average, according to Google’s own data, people search for “Facebook phone number” tens of thousands of times every month, I got a lot of calls.

“[Google is] trying to scrape for a phone number to match the intent of the search query,” Austin Kane, the director for SEO strategy for the New York-based consulting company Acknowledge Digital, told me in an email. “The first few web listings ... don't actually have a phone number available on site so it seems that Google is mistakenly crawling other content and exposing the phone number in Search Engine Results Pages, thinking that this is applicable to the query and helpful for users.” (Vice Media is a client of Acknowledge Digital.)

When I reached out to Facebook’s PR to get their thoughts, a spokesperson started his email response with: “Huh, that’s an odd one.”</p>


But the fault is Google's.
facebook  google  search 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
Ocean microphones may have recorded lost Malaysian jet's crash … thousands of miles from search sites • LiveScience
Tom Metcalfe:
<p>As well as two matching sound events recorded by the CTBTO hydrophones at Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia, the researchers found two sound events recorded by the hydrophones at Diego Garcia that could match the sounds of an airliner hitting the ocean.

Their directional bearings and timings indicated that they both occurred somewhere northwest of Madagascar — thousands of miles from the areas where searchers have looked for wreckage of the aircraft.

But the ocean is a noisy place, and Kadri said the underwater sounds might have also been caused by underwater earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, or even by meteorites or space junk falling in the ocean. [Top 10 Greatest Explosions Ever]

However, they were also valid sound signals that could have been created by the crash of Flight 370, he said.</p>


Five years on, and all they've found has been some wing parts and engine cowling - off Reunion Island near Madagascar, on the Mozambique coast, Rodriques Island (east of Mauritius, which is east of Madagascar), and Mossel Bay on the Western Cape of South Africa. That suggests that you'd want to look closer to Madagascar - rather than <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_for_Malaysia_Airlines_Flight_370">a bit west of Australia</a>, as most of the search was.
mh370  ocean  microphones  crash  search 
march 2019 by charlesarthur
Google's secret China project "effectively ended" after fight • The Intercept
Ryan Gallagher:
<p>Google has been forced to shut down a data analysis system it was using to develop a censored search engine for China after members of the company’s privacy team raised internal complaints that it had been kept secret from them, The Intercept has learned.

The internal rift over the system has had massive ramifications, effectively ending work on the censored search engine, known as Dragonfly, according to two sources familiar with the plans. The incident represents a major blow to top Google executives, including CEO Sundar Pichai, who have over the last two years made the China project one of their main priorities.

The dispute began in mid-August, when the The Intercept revealed that Google employees working on Dragonfly had been using a Beijing-based website to help develop blacklists for the censored search engine, which was designed to block out broad categories of information related to democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest, in accordance with strict rules on censorship in China that are enforced by the country’s authoritarian Communist Party government.</p>


There's some doubt, even among those who pushed against this, whether Google really has shut it down. Wait and see.
google  china  search 
december 2018 by charlesarthur
Does Google harm local search rivals, EU antitrust regulators ask • Reuters
Foo Yun Chee:
<p>The European Commission, which took the world’s most popular internet search engine to task for these two anti-competitive practices, is wrapping up a third case which involves Google’s AdSense advertising service.

The EU competition authority’s interest in local search services followed a complaint by U.S. search and advertising company Yelp and rivals in the travel, restaurant and accommodation industries.

It sent questionnaires to Google rivals last month, asking for details of the company’s practices and the impact on competing services between January 2012 to December 2017.

Regulators also wanted to know if rivals experienced an impact in the operation of their local services as a result of major search algorithm changes by Google, including the introduction of its Panda 4.0 algorithm.

Introduced in 2014, this algorithm determines what appears in Google search results.

Companies were also asked if Google’s introduction of the Local Universal or One Box had a substantial impact on their local search services.</p>


Be pretty incredible if local search wasn't affected by Google. The better question is: how quickly will the EU act, and will it actually be effective?
google  search  local 
december 2018 by charlesarthur
Read Google employees' open letter protesting Project Dragonfly
Sara Salinas and Jillian D'Onfro:
<p>Google employees are calling on the company to cancel Project Dragonfly, an effort to create a censored search engine in China.

"Many of us accepted employment at Google with the company's values in mind, including its previous position on Chinese censorship and surveillance, and an understanding that Google was a company willing to place its values above its profits," an open letter signed by Google employees <a href="https://medium.com/@googlersagainstdragonfly/we-are-google-employees-google-must-drop-dragonfly-4c8a30c5e5eb">published Tuesday on Medium</a> says. "After a year of disappointments including Project Maven, Dragonfly, and Google's support for abusers, we no longer believe this is the case."

Eleven Google employees had signed the letter as of its posting, and the number of signatures quickly grew, amounting to more than 100 several hours after it published.

Project Dragonfly has drawn criticism from human rights groups and US politicians since The Intercept first reported details about the internal effort this summer, and in August, thousands of Google employees signed a letter saying that it raised "urgent moral and ethical issues." </p>


Is Google losing its soul or finding it? Drifting away from its roots or rediscovering them? I get the feeling that the restive employees are actually trying to align the company with to its original utopian vision, of constantly improving the world through its products.
google  china  search  censorship 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Someone paid thousands of foreigners 20 cents each to hide HuffPost's negative coverage of a Democratic PAC • HuffPost UK
Alexander Thorburn-Winsor and Paul Blumenthal:
<p>A HuffPost article that critically covered a Democratic political action committee abruptly disappeared from the top results in Google search after a contractor hired thousands of workers outside of the U.S. this spring to help suppress negative coverage of the PAC’s activities.

HuffPost’s April 2016 report investigated the tactics of End Citizens United, a political action committee founded by three former staffers at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s official organ dedicated to electing Democrats to the House of Representatives. ECU, which worked to elect Democratic candidates who support campaign finance reform, used aggressive and expansive email campaigns to rake in millions of dollars in online donations. The PAC’s pushy tactics angered other nonprofits working toward campaign finance reform, which came to think of the PAC as an arm of the Democratic Party stealing their donors with deceptive email marketing.

Until this spring, HuffPost’s story was the second to come up in a generic Google search for “End Citizens United.” But in the spring of 2018, an anonymous US-based contractor paid at least 3,800 workers in countries around the world through the crowdsourcing firm Microworkers to manipulate what stories would come up when people searched for the PAC in Google, according to public job listings on Microworkers reviewed by HuffPost.</p>


Political wrangling gets worse and worse. I like the irony of using a PAC to end PACs.
google  search  politics 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
For China, even a censored Google search engine would be better than Baidu • South China Morning Post
Bai Tongdong:
<p>As a college professor, I find Baidu’s search results on scholarly matters deeply frustrating, because they don’t lead me to the webpages I wish to find. In contrast, Google’s search results are far more useful. Thanks to my part-time employment at New York University’s law school, I can use its virtual private networks (VPN) to access Google, a benefit that I consider more valuable than the extra pay.

And it is not just terrible search results, and the lack of access to useful tools such as Google Books. Baidu’s shameless commercialisation of its search engine has been the subject of controversy. For example, companies could – and maybe still can – bid for the top spots in Baidu’s search results, and users are not warned that these results are the outcome of commercial bidding and not sorted by relevance, as is the practice with Google.

In one case that sparked a public outcry, a young man used Baidu to search for treatments and clinics for the rare form of the cancer he suffered from. The man’s family spent over 200,000 yuan (US$29,000) on an experimental treatment at one of the for-profit hospitals that topped his Baidu search, but the treatment was unsuccessful and he died. The search results could have caused him to miss potentially life-saving treatment.

Therefore, what could be at stake here is not merely the convenience that search engines offer me as a scholar, but life itself. The reason that many Americans are against Google’s return to China is their opposition to the lack of democracy and free speech in China, with Google’s censored search engine seen to be pandering to these ills. But isn’t it ironic that these Americans fail to consider how Chinese people feel?</p>
china  google  search 
october 2018 by charlesarthur
Apple looks down on ads but takes billions from Google • Bloomberg
Shira Ovide:
<p>In new research, [Goldman Sachs] estimated that about $9bn of Apple’s expected 2018 services segment revenue — about one-quarter of the estimated total — has almost nothing to do with Apple itself.

Goldman estimated the $9bn is coming from Google, which pays Apple for the privilege of being the built-in search engine on Apple’s Safari web browsers, on Siri and some other spots on Apple devices. Google constantly talks about the pile of money it’s paying to Apple and others, 1 and Google investors track it fanatically. Apple, by contrast, never talks about its revenue stream from Google, and investors never seem to care about it. If Goldman’s figure is correct, however, it should dent investors’ beliefs about Apple’s business transformation, and it calls into question Apple’s moral proclamations about digital advertising.

Most estimates of Apple’s revenue from Google are more like $3bn to $4bn a year rather than double or triple that figure. But it is true that in its recent financial reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Apple has listed “licensing” as the first in a short list of contributors to sales growth in its services segment. “Licensing” includes the money that Apple is collecting from its search contract with Alphabet Inc.’s Google and other sources, including a legal settlement with Samsung…

…give Apple credit for not itself employing an aggressive system to harvest personal information for advertising purposes. What if instead Apple is generating one-quarter of its services revenue from enabling Google’s aggressive system of harvesting personal information for advertising purposes? Make no mistake — that is what Apple is doing by cashing those 10-figure checks from Google.

That feels worse, because Apple gets to collect a high-profit pile of money from the spoils of digital advertising without having to be accountable for the downsides of that digital advertising system. It’s perfect, and perfectly hypocritical. </p>


Neil Cybart, a former Wall St analyst, <a href="https://twitter.com/neilcybart/status/1045997731624505345">poured cold water on the $9bn figure</a> (he puts all of Licensing as less than $4bn for all of 2017). As to the "harvesting personal information" - Google doesn't get location data from phones unless people directly consent. It can't grab peoples' information unless they consent. This contrasts starkly with Google <a href="https://apnews.com/f60bc112665b458cb6473d7ee9492932">tracking people on Android even when they ask it to stop</a>.
google  apple  search 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
Google search revamp: Expect to see ton of new features on your phone • ZDNet
Liam Tung:
<p>Google has renamed its news feed on the mobile app 'Discover' and is bringing the feature to its homepage on all mobile browsers.

The revamped mobile experience is being rolled out as part of Google's 20th anniversary, and builds on the feed introduced to its mobile app last year.

The feed contains a list of suggested news items beneath the search box in the app. But until now people who primarily use Google search through a browser didn't see Google's suggestions.

Bringing the Discover feed to all mobile browsers will mark a significant change in how iPhone and Android users engage with the site, which Google wants people to use not just for search but as a general discovery tool.

The new mobile site is rolling out in the next few weeks, <a href="https://www.blog.google/products/search/introducing-google-discover/">according to Google</a>.</p>


There's a (typically?) <a href="https://www.blog.google/products/search/improving-search-next-20-years/">slightly strange blogpost from Google about hitting 20 years</a>, where the faintly worrying part is that it says it's going to have a "fundamental" shift in search which have "the shift from answers to journeys". (The entire focus is on mobile; the desktop is forgotten.) It's written by the head of search, rather than Sundar Pichai or those McCavitys, Brin and Page.
google  search 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
Amazon is stuffing its search results pages with ads • Recode
Rani Molla:
<p>Sponsored ads allow vendors to bid auction-style to have their products show up when consumers type in a related search term. If you’re Duracell, for example, you can pay to have your product show up above or among search results when someone types in “batteries” — or “Energizer.”

When searching for a specific product — “Kellogg’s Corn Flakes,” for example — ads for Kellogg’s own Frosted Flakes and competitor Nature’s Path Corn Flakes both show up as sponsored results first.

And in an unscientific Recode test, these types of ads showed up for every search term, from the vague to the hyperspecific:

<img src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/G2pDzGOA2ZyA4qvCMXDqEVAj8FM=/0x0:5001x3615/1520x0/filters:focal(0x0:5001x3615):no_upscale()/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/12887467/Amazon_products_3x7_01.png" width="100%" />

“Nobody is scrolling beyond the first page when they do a search,” Jason Goldberg, SVP of commerce at SapientRazorfish, a digital marketing agency, told Recode. “If you want to be discoverable, you have to find a way to show up in search results.”

To get that prime visibility, brands are responding with more cash. Spending on sponsored products in Amazon’s search increased 165% in the second quarter of 2018 compared with a year earlier, according to data from marketing agency Merkle.

The competition for brands to bid on their own or others’ keywords is fierce, and is leading toward what Goldberg called a “perfectly escalating arms race where all the trends are to spend more money to buy more ads to have better visibility on Amazon.”</p>

I've noticed this; Amazon isn't bound, as far as I can tell, by the requirements on other search engines to label ads "prominently". The only positive thing is that if you're actually determined to buy product A, then an ad for product B probably won't do it. The annoyance comes when you accidentally click on the ad product thinking it's part of the organic listings. Which can happen on Google too, of course.
Amazon  search  ads 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
Google might be hiding the fact that its own reviews are shoddy • Yahoo Finance
Ethan Wolff-Mann:
<p>If you Google “Chiropractor Bethesda Maryland,” you’ll see Google’s famous 10 blue links. But you’ll also see a box with a map — a snippet — at the top with local results, star ratings, and buttons for phone number and directions. Clicking further will show you <a href="https://support.google.com/maps/answer/6230175?co=GENIE.Platform%3DiOS&hl=en">reviews people left on Google Maps</a>.

Google is ostensibly providing a service to make it easy to get what you want: a chiropractor in Bethesda.

But what if these reviews aren’t particularly good or reliable? This is a question that has come up based on the fact that Google’s library of local reviews is no longer available apart from the Maps platform or the box above search links.

If you Google the exact, unique text of a user review found through the box above in quotes, an interesting thing happens: No results are found, despite the fact that you just saw the text, provided by Google itself in the box above the reviews.

Google appears to have quietly purged its own user-generated review content from its search results.

This is significant, critics of Google say, because it obscures the fact that Google’s search engine judges the company’s own reviews poorly. Google’s search engine ranks content by relevance and quality, and Google’s review content previously showed up deep into the search results, far from the first page of links that takes most of the clicks.

A Google spokesperson disagreed that the review content was “de-indexed,” simply noting that because Google reviews don’t currently live on a web page, they are not displayed as web results.

Given that reviews once showed up in regular Google search results and now do not, it follows that the reviews were moved from a web page to the Maps platform, whose code prevents search engines from crawling it. What was once searchable is now not searchable, something Google did not explain.

As a result, Google reviews do not have to rank highly in search engines. Instead, the Google snippet — the map and reviews box above the standard search result — allows the company to capture clicks that would otherwise flow off the platform to whatever website had the best result in the algorithm made by the search team down the hall at Mountain View deemed as the best.</p>

Capturing clicks that would otherwise flow off the platform is an increasingly big thing for Google, which once couldn't wait to let people get off its site.
Google  review  maps  search 
august 2018 by charlesarthur
What is the revenue generation model for DuckDuckGo? • Quora
Gabriel Weinberg is the CEO of DuckDuckGo.com, a search engine that he says has been profitable since 2014 - without tracking users at all. So why don't Google and Facebook give up trackers?
<p>Google now deploys hidden trackers on 76% of websites across the web to monitor your behavior and Facebook has hidden trackers on about 25% of websites, according to the Princeton Web Transparency & Accountability Project. It is likely that Google and/or Facebook are watching you on most sites you visit, in addition to tracking you when using their products.

As a result, these two companies have amassed huge data profiles on individuals, which can include interests, past purchases, search, browsing and location history, and much more. This personal data is stored indefinitely and used for invasive targeted advertising that can follow you around the Internet.

This advertising system is designed to enable hyper-targeting, which has many unintended consequences that have dominated the headlines in recent years, such as the ability for bad actors to use the system to influence elections, to exclude groups in a way that facilitates discrimination, and to expose your personal data to companies you’ve never even heard of.

The operative question is, though, is all of this tracking necessary to make substantial profits? Is this the only way to run a profitable digital consumer focused service company? Not in my opinion. The fact is, these companies would still be wildly profitable if, for example, they dropped all of these hidden trackers across the web and limited the amount of data they keep to only what is most necessary.

Yes, this additional tracking probably helps them compete with each other and adds some incremental revenue, but I believe the vast majority of their revenue would still exist if the tracking dial was turned way down, and they backed far away from the creepy line.

The reason is simple: Google and Facebook are the undisputed champions of audience and reach across the internet, something advertisers will always pay for. Their business models don’t need to be this invasive.</p>


DDG (which I use) now has 20m queries per day; in 2014 it went from 2.7m to 5.4m queries per day. It must be very profitable now with that much larger search volume.
search  engine  duckduckgo 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
Yelp files new EU complaint against Google over search dominance
Rochelle Toplensky and Hannah Kuchler:
<p>Yelp has filed a complaint with the EU’s antitrust watchdog against Google, arguing that the search company has abused its dominance in local search and pressuring Brussels to launch new charges against the tech giant.

European antitrust authorities fined Google €2.4bn in June 2017 for favouring its own shopping service over rival offerings in its search results. Google denied wrongdoing and has appealed that decision.

Now Yelp, which provides user ratings, reviews and other information about local businesses, wants Margrethe Vestager, the EU Competition Commissioner, to take action against Google for similar alleged abuse in the local search market, according to a copy of the complaint seen by the Financial Times…

…Yelp wrote the new complaint to make the case for local search services, arguing that Google is harming both competitors and consumers by giving preferred placement to its own offerings over rivals’. It said the search giant displays Google Local Search information at the top of the results page, while links to Yelp, TripAdvisor and other services are displayed further down, where they are rarely clicked.

The company is requesting quick action to remove the alleged favouritism, which could enable it to reopen its division in Europe.

Local search services were originally covered by a European antitrust probe launched in 2010, over how Google treated its own services in search results versus links to rivals. That investigation covered a number of specialist search services, including travel, local business and price comparison. But in 2015, Ms Vestager focused her charge sheet on price comparison services culminating in last summer’s fine.

Google declined to comment on the most recent complaint.</p>


I don't have much confidence that Vestager will act quickly on this. Not because she won't think that it's important or merited, but because her office is astonishingly slow to act. The fine over shopping was a start, but Google's response has been to do exactly what complainants said would harm them, and Vestager hasn't done a thing.
google  yelp  search  local 
may 2018 by charlesarthur
The web’s recommendation engines are broken. Can we fix them? • WIRED
Renee DiResta:
<p>Today, recommendation engines are perhaps the biggest threat to societal cohesion on the internet—and, as a result, one of the biggest threats to societal cohesion in the offline world, too. The recommendation engines we engage with are broken in ways that have grave consequences: amplified conspiracy theories, gamified news, nonsense infiltrating mainstream discourse, misinformed voters. Recommendation engines have become The Great Polarizer.

Ironically, the conversation about recommendation engines, and the curatorial power of social giants, is also highly polarized. A creator showed up at YouTube’s offices with a gun last week, outraged that the platform had demonetized and downranked some of the videos on her channel. This, she felt, was censorship. It isn’t, but the Twitter conversation around the shooting clearly illustrated the simmering tensions over how platforms navigate content : there are those who hold an absolutist view on free speech and believe any moderation is censorship, and there are those who believe that moderation is necessary to facilitate norms that respect the experience of the community.

As the consequences of curatorial decisions grow more dire, we need to ask: Can we make the internet’s recommendation engines more ethical? And if so, how?

Finding a solution begins with understanding how these systems work, since they are doing precisely what they’re designed to do. Recommendation engines generally function in two ways. The first is a content-based system. The engine asks, is this content similar to other content that this user has previously liked? If you binge-watched two seasons of, say, Law and Order, Netflix’s reco engine will probably decide that you’ll like the other seventeen, and that procedural crime dramas in general are a good fit. The second kind of filtering is what’s called a collaborative filtering system. That engine asks, what can I determine about this user, and what do similar people like? These systems can be effective even before you’ve given the engine any feedback through your actions. </p>


<a href="http://twitter.com/noupside">DiResta is a terrific follow</a> on Twitter. Anyhow, today we've got quite a few recommendation engine links. Think of it as a sort of accidental ironic commentary.
recommendation  engine  search 
april 2018 by charlesarthur
New Jumpshot 2018 data: where searches happen on the web (Google, Amazon, Facebook, and beyond) • SparkToro
Rand Fishkin looks at US search data (desktop and mobile) that goes back to 2015:
<p><img src="https://sparktoro.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/jumpshot-search-over-time-small.gif" width="100%" />

Some of my takeaways:

• Back in November, 2015, Bing & Yahoo combined for ~7% of all searches. In February of 2018, that number was down to 4.6%.<br />• YouTube, Pinterest, Amazon, and Twitter have remained surprisingly stable, varying less than a half a percent each. That’s particularly surprising with Amazon, because I keep reading all these stories about how so much of product search is shifting to their platform. If that’s true, it must only be proportional in keeping up with the broad growth of search on the web as a whole. Perhaps that’s impressive by itself.<br />• Google Images shrank, but almost entirely because Google web search took that traffic for themselves (dropping the tabs to image search, embedding more image results in the web SERPs, etc)<br />• Google Maps, similar to Images, only technically lost share, as Google web search gets most of that (and the shift to mobile use has obviously biased that too)<br />• Google properties own just over 90% of all searches in 2018, up ~1.5% from 2015.

If asked to predict the future, I’d guess that Google’s dominance will continue, and that there’s no clear evidence for a big shakeup anytime in the next two to three years. </p>
google  search 
april 2018 by charlesarthur
Search engine for source code • PublicWWW.com
<p>Source Code Search Engine
Find any alphanumeric snippet, signature or keyword in the web pages HTML, JS and CSS code.

Ultimate solution for digital marketing and affiliate marketing research, PublicWWW allow you to perform searches this way, something that is not possible with other regular search engines:

• Any HTML, JavaScript, CSS and plain text in web page source code<br />• References to StackOverflow questions in HTML, .CSS and .JS files<br />• Web designers and developers who hate IE<br />• Sites with the same analytics id: "UA-19778070-"<br />• Sites using the following version of nginx: "Server: nginx/1.4.7"<br />• Advertising networks users: "adserver.adtech.de"…</p>


And many more. Sure others will find uses for this, such as tracking down copies, and sites created by the same person/people (for scams?).
search  code 
march 2018 by charlesarthur
#NotOKGoogle search suggestions: 2018 edition • Medium
Jonathan Albright:
<p>I’m at a loss to understand how this could *still* be happening. The quality and reliability of Google’s search suggestions have actually devolved in the past year. It almost reads like these input signals are coming out of Reddit, Twitter and other online and social news forums.

Here's February 20, 2018. Below are some examples of what kids are likely to see when they begin to type in or use Google to look up a controversial topic. Why does this matter? It matters because this is information pollution at the most critical interface: search. Google is the knowledge portal for most of the world.

When toxic information — suggestions like the ones seen below — get in the way of people actively fact checking and truth-seeking, it’s a major problem.

<img src="https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1600/1*RunXLUNW3_lcgzNfLNLywg.png" width="100%" />

<img src="https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1600/1*LovYe2O8mxjUg8onyzQGjw.png" width="100%" />

<img src="https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1600/1*kJK7uohPKhnZcBX4sgnIZw.png" width="100%" />

We’re at a critical juncture in social cohesion & the role of tech in society. The walls have been breached; platforms are now getting vandalized in broad daylight.</p>

Note also that those are searches relating to American topics. But as Carole Cadwalladr has shown at the Guardian (a year ago, and again when Albright showed these) you get just as bad outside the US.
search  google  bias 
february 2018 by charlesarthur
Google’s nemesis: meet the British couple who took on a giant, won... And cost it £2.1bn • Wired
Rowland Manthorpe speaks to Adam and Shivaun Raff, who set up Foundem - a price comparison site - in 2007 and then saw Google demote it in favour of its own offerings:
<p>Because Google is hosted across numerous data centres, Adam was able to watch, horrified, as the penalty swept across the search engine, downgrading Foundem for every search except its own name.

One second Foundem ranked first or third (a status it maintained on Yahoo! and Microsoft’s Bing). The next, it was down in the 70s and 80s. For huge swathes of online life, Google is the default entry point. In a single stroke, Foundem had effectively been disappeared from the internet.

The Raffs knew instantly this was an existential threat. “We didn’t kid ourselves for one second,” says Adam. “If Google didn’t lift this penalty, we’d be dead.” But when they tried to contact Google, it was like sending messages into the void. Through a contact, they reached the firm’s head of search quality. The response came back from a colleague, saying he had “no specific insights to offer”.

No matter what they tried – and over the next two years the Raffs pursued every conceivable avenue – there was no reasoning with Google. Their only option was to find alternative sources of revenue, by licensing Foundem’s software to publishers such as Bauer and IPC Media.

To the Raffs, this is Google’s real crime: its inaccessibility and unwillingness to respond, even to legitimate complaints. “We’ve never said that the fault was being penalised,” says Adam. “Collateral damage in complex algorithms is inevitable. The fault was not having a procedure by which we could appeal and get timely relief.”</p>

The Raffs have done analysis after analysis of the ways that Google's "solutions" to the antitrust complaint on search are self-serving. But it has taken years, and Google's present "solution" is one which was rejected previously. Even though Vestager, the new EC antitrust commissioner, has found against Google, it's too slow.

Justice delayed is justice denied, and this has been delayed at least seven years.
Google  search  antitrust 
february 2018 by charlesarthur
Search tool accesses firms' documents in the cloud • BBC
<p>A website created by anonymous hackers has been launched that allows anyone to search for sensitive data stored in the cloud.
Buckhacker is a tool that trawls servers at Amazon Web Services (AWS), a popular cloud computing platform.

AWS provides data storage to private firms, governments and universities, among others.
Exposed data has been found on it before, but Buckhacker makes searching for it much easier.

The name comes from the fact that AWS Simple Storage Servers (S3) are known as "buckets" - this is the part of AWS that Buckhacker accesses.

The BBC alerted Amazon to Buckhacker shortly after it went live, but the firm has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

On Wednesday afternoon, Buckhacker went offline "for maintenance", though it had previously been working allowing a number of cyber-security experts to explore it.

"We went online with the alpha version [too] early," said a Twitter account associated with the Buckhacker site.

Security expert Kevin Beaumont told the BBC: "It's a goldmine of stuff which shouldn't be public."</p>

"Goldmine of stuff which shouldn't be public" can describe much of the internet, but in this case it's pretty accurate. Amazon has done well at security before, but now it has a serious problem.
Amazon  bucket  search 
february 2018 by charlesarthur
What 3,000 voice search queries tell us about the ‘voice search revolution’ • Search Engine Land
Bryson Meunier:
<p>My family of five in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, has been using Google Home for a little over a year. We use it daily and now have five Google Homes in the house since the kids got Google Home Minis for Christmas.

Google returns personalized data in MyActivity, which you can filter by voice search queries. It’s not easy to extract, but when I did it manually, I extracted a total of 3,188 queries that mostly occurred between October 8, 2017, and January 10, 2018. These were mostly queries using Google Home, but some of them were voice queries from smartphone, desktop and tablet.

I have three kids under 8 years old, so not every query was crystal clear. When I categorized the queries, “unknown” was my sixth-largest category, and it comprised queries like my six-year-old daughter asking Google Home, “Does Google Home belong to me or my little brother” and queries I didn’t know we were making, like “All right, Blake if you’re going to be good you can come down,” after I told my 3-year-old he could come down from his time out.

But the findings largely show what my family uses the Google Home for. I am sharing my findings in hopes it will help other marketers find actual ways to promote their businesses with these devices and will provide value to themselves and to searchers.

Keep in mind while most of these are Google Home voice queries, we also search by voice from our smartphones and tablets, and those voice-based queries are included here as well.

By far, the number one thing we asked of our Google Home was to stop, which usually meant to stop playing “Cherry Bomb,” “Ghostbusters,” “Jingle Bells” or some other song my 3-year old decided was worthy of playing 10 times a day.</p>

This seems to indicate that there’s a pretty narrow range of transactions one wants to (or can) carry out with these devices. Limitation of the voice UI, or what it can do?
Google  voice  search  ui 
february 2018 by charlesarthur
Privacy, simplified • Spread Privacy
Gabriel Weinberg (CEO of DuckDuckGo):
<p>Today we’re taking a major step to simplify online privacy with the launch of fully revamped versions of our browser extension and mobile app, now with built-in tracker network blocking, smarter encryption, and, of course, private search – all designed to operate seamlessly together while you search and browse the web. Our updated app and extension are now available across all major platforms – Firefox, Safari, Chrome, iOS, and Android – so that you can easily get all the privacy essentials you need on any device with just one download.

The DuckDuckGo browser extension and mobile app will also now show you a Privacy Grade rating (A-F) when you visit a website. This rating lets you see at a glance how protected you are, dig into the details to see who we caught trying to track you, and learn how we enhanced the underlying website's privacy measures. The Privacy Grade is scored automatically based on the prevalence of hidden tracker networks, encryption availability, and website privacy practices.</p>


Currently <a href="https://duckduckgo.com/traffic.html">doing 22m direct searches per day</a>. Tiny compared to Google, but personally I like it.
internet  privacy  duckduckgo  search 
january 2018 by charlesarthur
Google memory loss • ongoing
Tim Bray:
<p>I think Google has stopped in­dex­ing the old­er parts of the We­b. I think I can prove it. Google’s com­pe­ti­tion is do­ing bet­ter.

Ev­i­dence · This isn’t just a proof, it’s a rock-n-roll proof. Back in 2006, I pub­lished <a href="https://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2006/03/13/Rock-n-Roll-Animal">a re­view</a> of Lou Reed’s Rock n Roll An­i­mal al­bum. Back in 2008, Brent Sim­mons pub­lished <a href="http://inessential.com/2008/11/04/that_new_sound">That New Sound</a>, about The Clash’s Lon­don Calling. Here’s a chal­lenge: Can you find ei­ther of these with Google? Even if you read them first and can care­ful­ly con­jure up exact-match strings, and then use the “site:” pre­fix? I can’t. ¶

<em>[Up­date: Now you can, be­cause this piece went a lit­tle vi­ral. But you sure couldn’t ear­li­er in the day.]</em>

Why? · Ob­vi­ous­ly, in­dex­ing the whole Web is crush­ing­ly ex­pen­sive, and get­ting more so ev­ery day. Things like 10+-year-old mu­sic re­views that are nev­er up­dat­ed, no longer ac­cept com­ments, are light­ly if at all linked-to out­side their own site, and rarely if ev­er visited… well, let’s face it, Google’s not go­ing to be sell­ing many ads next to search re­sults that turn them up. So from a busi­ness point of view, it’s hard to make a case for Google in­dex­ing ev­ery­thing, no mat­ter how old and how ob­scure. ¶

My pain here is pure­ly per­son­al; I freely con­fess that I’d been us­ing Google’s glob­al in­fras­truc­ture as my own per­son­al search in­dex for my own per­son­al pub­li­ca­tion­s. But the pain is re­al; I fre­quent­ly mine my own his­to­ry to re-use, for ex­am­ple in con­struct­ing the cur­rent #SongOfTheDay se­ries.</p>


Bing and DuckDuckGo can find it, he points out. So?
<p>When I have a ques­tion I want an­swered, I’ll prob­a­bly still go to Google. When I want to find a spe­cif­ic Web page and I think I know some of the words it con­tain­s, I won’t any more, I’ll pick Bing or Duck­Duck­Go. </p>


Bray used to work at Google.
google  search  history 
january 2018 by charlesarthur
Meet the man trying to catch Google search at its worst • The Outline
Jon Christian:
<p>There is one group working on a concept for a system that would establish a record of search engine results. The idea is similar to the Internet Archive, which downloads periodic copies of websites, but more complicated since search engines display different results depending on the time as well as the location and history of the user. The solution for tracking such a complicated system is described in a <a href="http://aibrt.org/downloads/PROSPECTUS-The_Sunlight_Society-March_2017-EMBARGOED_until_March_14_2017.pdf">prospectus</a> for the Sunlight Society, founded by a group of 20 researchers under the banner of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT), a nonprofit in Vista, California that conducts research in psychology and tech.

The concept is similar to Nielsen Media Research’s longstanding system that collects information about audience size and demographics of television viewers through meters installed in households around the country. But instead of monitoring TV habits of real people, the system would monitor their internet use. This would require a worldwide network of paid collaborators who would provide the Sunlight Society with access to their search results.

“This is about new methods of influence that have never existed before, and that are affecting the decisions of billions of people every day without their knowledge, and without leaving a paper trail,” said Robert Epstein, a 64-year-old researcher, book author, and former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today.</p>


Ambitious scheme. But important.
google  search 
december 2017 by charlesarthur
Google pays to put search engine back on Firefox browser in US • Bloomberg
Mark Bergen:
<p>In a blog post, Mozilla said Firefox’s default search engine will be Google in the US, Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The agreement recalls a similar, older deal that was scuttled when Firefox and Google’s Chrome web browser became bitter rivals. Three years ago, Mozilla switched from Google to Yahoo! Inc. as the default Firefox search provider in the US after Yahoo agreed to pay more than $300m a year over five years -- more than Google was willing to pay.

The new Firefox deal could boost Google’s already massive share of the web-search market. When people use Firefox, Google’s search box will be on the launch page, prompting users to type in valuable queries that Google can sell ads against. But the agreement also adds another payment that Alphabet Inc.’s Google must make to partners that send online traffic to its search engine, a worrisome cost for shareholders.

It’s unclear how much Google paid to reclaim this prized digital spot. A Google spokeswoman confirmed the deal but declined to comment further, and Mozilla didn’t disclose financial details.</p>


Bet it's less than Yahoo paid. That was a stunning overbid.
mozilla  firefox  google  search 
november 2017 by charlesarthur
It’s time to stop trusting Google search already • The Verge
Adi Robertson:
<p>Even if [Google] search is overwhelmingly accurate, highlighting just a few bad results around topics like mass shootings is a major problem — especially if people are primed to believe that anything Google says is true. And for every advance Google makes to improve its results, there’s a host of people waiting to game the new system, forcing it to adapt again.

Simply shaming Google over bad search results might actually play into its mythos [of infallibility, which it plays to through voice assistants], even if the goal is to hold the company accountable. It reinforces a framing where Google search’s ideal final state is a godlike, omniscient benefactor, not just a well-designed product. Yes, Google search should get better at avoiding obvious fakery, or creating a faux-neutral system that presents conspiracy theories next to hard reporting. But we should be wary of overemphasizing its ability, or that of any other technological system, to act as an arbiter of what’s real.

Alongside pushing Google to stop “fake news,” we should be looking for ways to limit trust in, and reliance on, search algorithms themselves. That might mean seeking handpicked video playlists instead of searching YouTube Kids, which recently drew criticism for surfacing inappropriate videos. It could mean focusing on reestablishing trust in human-led news curation, which has produced its own share of dangerous misinformation. It could mean pushing Google to kill, not improve, features that fail in predictable and damaging ways. At the very least, <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/3/16413082/google-4chan-las-vegas-shooting-top-stories-algorithm-mistake">I’ve proposed</a> that Google rename or abolish the Top Stories carousel, which offers legitimacy to certain pages without vetting their accuracy. Reducing the prominence of “Popular on Twitter” might make sense, too, unless Google clearly commits to strong human-led quality control.</p>


Google's basic model comes straight from scientific papers' impact measurement: the more papers quote a previous one, the more "impact" the paper has, and so the more important it is in the canon of science.

This was fine while search largely consisted of trying to find the authoritative White House site. But search has shifted, and Robertson makes excellent points: when everyone's essentially falsifying their papers, what does impact mean, and should you still use it?
google  search  trust 
november 2017 by charlesarthur
Do tech companies really need all that user data? • Harvard Business Review
Walter Frick:
<p>To determine whether storage of users’ personal data improves search results, [researchers] Chiou and Tucker looked at how search results from Bing and Yahoo differed before and after changes in the European Commission’s rules on data retention. In 2008 the Commission recommended that search engines reduce the period over which search engines kept user records. In response, Yahoo decided to strengthen its privacy policy by anonymizing user data after 90 days. In 2010 Microsoft changed its policy, and began deleting IP addresses associated with searches on Bing after six months and all data points intended to identify a user across visits after 18 months. In 2011 Yahoo changed its policy again, this time deciding to store personal data longer — for 18 months rather than 90 days — allowing the researchers yet another chance to measure how changes in data storage affected search results. (Google did not change its policies during this period, and so is not included in the study. Some of Tucker’s past research has been funded by Google.)

The researchers then looked at data from UK residents’ web history before and after the changes. To measure search quality, they looked at the number of repeated searches, a signal of dissatisfaction with search results. In all three cases, they found no statistically significant effect on search result quality following changes in data retention policy. In other words, the decision to anonymize or de-identify the data didn’t appear to impair the search experience. “Our results suggest that the costs of privacy may be lower than currently perceived,” the authors write, though they note that <a href="http://www.nber.org/chapters/c12453.pdf">previous studies</a> have come to different conclusions.</p>


By using clickstream data, they should be getting enough to be relevant - but the problem is that the size of use is small compared to Google's. A "private" Google v logged-in Google comparison would really tell us more.
google  search  data  privacy 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
Google has dropped Google Instant Search • Search Engine Land
<p>After launching Google Instant — Google’s method of showing search results as you type them — several years ago, Google has removed the feature from search effective today.

Google Instant launched in 2010 under the leadership of Marissa Mayer. Mayer called this change a “fundamental shift in search” and the news was covered across all major media when it launched.

Now with the changes in how searchers use mobile — and over 50% of all Google searches being on mobile — Google decided to do away with this feature. A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land:
<p>We launched Google Instant back in 2010 with the goal to provide users with the information they need as quickly as possible, even as they typed their searches on desktop devices. Since then, many more of our searches happen on mobile, with very different input and interaction and screen constraints. With this in mind, we have decided to remove Google Instant, so we can focus on ways to make Search even faster and more fluid on all devices.</p>
</p>


Alternative explanation: Google Instant got the company into huge amounts of boiling-hot water because the suggestions from the autocomplete were so horrendously biased that it sought a fix - and there is no fix except to remove it.
google  instant  search 
july 2017 by charlesarthur
SEC files insider trading charges against research scientist aiming to avoid SEC detection • SEC.gov
<p>The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced insider trading charges against a research scientist who allegedly searched the internet for “how sec detect unusual trade” before making a trade that the agency flagged as suspicious through data analysis.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that Fei Yan loaded up on stocks and options in advance of two corporate acquisitions late last year based on confidential information obtained from his wife, an associate at a law firm that worked on the deals. 

According to the SEC’s complaint, Yan made approximately $120,000 in illicit profits by selling his holdings in Mattress Firm Holding Corp. and Stillwater Mining Company following public announcements that they would be acquired by other companies.

Yan allegedly attempted to conceal his illegal activity by placing the illicit trades in a brokerage account bearing the name of his mother, who lives in China.  Among the internet searches he conducted was “insider trading in an international account.” </p>


Also known as "how to use Google to incriminate yourself". Though the "Mattress Firm Holding Corp" hardly sounds like the greatest business in the world.
sec  google  search  crime 
july 2017 by charlesarthur
Everybody lies: how Google search reveals our darkest secrets • The Guardian
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, who takes a big data look via Google searches at peoples' anxieties, prejudices, sexual preferences and fears, and also this:
<p>The final – and, I think, most powerful – value in this data is its ability to lead us from problems to solutions. With more understanding, we might find ways to reduce the world’s supply of nasty attitudes. Let’s return to Obama’s speech about Islamophobia [after the 2015 San Bernadino attack]. Recall that every time he argued that people should respect Muslims more, the people he was trying to reach became more enraged. Google searches, however, reveal that there was one line that did trigger the type of response Obama might have wanted. He said: “Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbours, our co-workers, our sports heroes and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform, who are willing to die in defence of our country.”

After this line, for the first time in more than a year, the top Googled noun after “Muslim” was not “terrorists”, “extremists”, or “refugees”. It was “athletes”, followed by “soldiers”.” And, in fact, “athletes” kept the top spot for a full day afterwards. When we lecture angry people, the search data implies that their fury can grow. But subtly provoking people’s curiosity, giving new information, and offering new images of the group that is stoking their rage may turn their thoughts in different, more positive directions.

Two months after that speech, Obama gave another televised speech on Islamophobia, this time at a mosque. Perhaps someone in the president’s office had read Soltas’s and my Times column, which discussed what had worked and what hadn’t, for the content of this speech was noticeably different.

Obama spent little time insisting on the value of tolerance. Instead, he focused overwhelmingly on provoking people’s curiosity and changing their perceptions of Muslim Americans. Many of the slaves from Africa were Muslim, Obama told us; Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had their own copies of the Koran; a Muslim American designed skyscrapers in Chicago. Obama again spoke of Muslim athletes and armed service members, but also talked of Muslim police officers and firefighters, teachers and doctors. And my analysis of the Google searches suggests this speech was more successful than the previous one. Many of the hateful, rageful searches against Muslims dropped in the hours afterwards.</p>


This assumes that Google does take American's temperature correctly - that people are primed to respond like this. Which may well be true.
google  search  bigdata 
july 2017 by charlesarthur
Google loses Supreme Court of Canada case over search results • Fortune.com
Jeff John Roberts:
<p>The Supreme Court of Canada ruled against Google on Wednesday in a closely-watched intellectual property case over whether judges can apply their own country's laws to all of the Internet.

In a <a href="https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/16701/index.do">7-2 decision, the court agreed</a> a British Columbia judge had the power to issue an injunction forcing Google to scrub search results about pirated products not just in Canada, but everywhere else in the world too.

Those siding with Google, including civil liberties groups, had warned that allowing the injunction would harm free speech, setting a precedent to let any judge anywhere order a global ban on what appears on search engines. The Canadian Supreme Court, however, downplayed this objection and called Google's fears "theoretical."

"This is not an order to remove speech that, on its face, engages freedom of expression values, it is an order to de-index websites that are in violation of several court orders. We have not, to date, accepted that freedom of expression requires the facilitation of the unlawful sale of goods," wrote Judge Rosalie Abella.</p>


Google's not having a good week in the courts.
google  search  canada 
june 2017 by charlesarthur
OK, Google: should i focus on voice search in 2017? • Seer Interactive
<p>Here’s our research:

PPC query mining

<strong>Very little usage:</strong> 0.012% of 1,016,000 PPC keywords contained “OK, Google” (128 Seer Clients).

<strong>No major keyword behavior change:</strong> 66% of “OK, Google” queries are being spoken the same way they would be typed.

Survey results:

<strong>Very little marketing applicable search usage:</strong> 61% of voice users report using voice to control applications and appliances around them vs. tap info from the Internet (phone calls, texts, playing music, etc.). Only 8% of daily voice tech users reported actively searching the Internet via voice.

<img src="http://www.seerinteractive.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Voice-Search-Using-Tech-For-What-Screenshot-V1.jpg" width="100%" />

<strong>The technology is limiting:</strong> 90% of users reported frustration with the current voice activated tech or they don’t use it at all:<br />OK 57%<br />Bad 27%<br />Great 10%<br />Don’t Use 6%</p>


That graphic tells you quite a lot. Get it to play music.
voice  search 
june 2017 by charlesarthur
Google begins removing private medical records from search results • The Guardian
<p>The change <a href="https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/2744324?hl=en">was made on Thursda</a>y to include the “confidential, personal medical records of private people” in the bracket of information Google may remove unprompted from search results. Other examples of such information include national or government issued identification numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and images of signatures.

The leaking of private medical records can be extremely damaging to the victims, both financially and emotionally, with future prospects affected and private lives of the vulnerable exposed. Given that Google’s indexing system will capture anything that’s publicly accessible on the internet, leaks such as those created by an Indian pathology lab which uploaded more than 43,000 patient records in December, including names and HIV blood test results, can be particularly damaging.

The last change to the removal policy was made in 2015 with the addition of “nude or sexually explicit images that were uploaded or shared without your consent” to cover so-called revenge porn.

The new addition to Google’s scrubbing policy marks a change from the search company’s traditional hands-off, algorithmic approach which resists attempts at censorship. This has come under scrutiny over the last few years due to the spread of fake news and misinformation. Google recently adjusted its search results to down-rank contested information such as fake news.

For many Google has become the gateway to the internet, meaning that removal from the company’s search results effectively scrubs them from the internet. </p>


Google implementing a "right to be private"? Interesting development.
google  medical  data  search  rtbf 
june 2017 by charlesarthur
Google faces big fine in first EU case against search practices • FT
Rochelle Toplensky:
<p>Google is braced for a fine of potentially more than €1bn from Brussels for abusing its market dominance in search, a sanction that would have far-reaching implications for how the company operates online.

The EU move, expected in the coming weeks, will accuse the company of using its near-monopoly in online search to unfairly steer customers to its own Google Shopping service.

The bill could top the record abuse penalty of €1bn handed out to chipmaker Intel in 2009, according to two people familiar with the case. The European Commission and Google declined to comment.

The decision in the Google Shopping case would be just the first of three competition claims against the company being investigated by EU authorities.

It would mark the first sanction by a leading competition regulator on the way Google operates.</p>


The investigation was announced in November 2010; but the problem had been written about since at least August 2009, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2009/aug/17/google-search-baffles-internet-firm">as Richard Wray explained</a>:
<p>A British husband and wife team have been waging a three-year battle to get their price comparison website recognised by Google in a saga that sheds new light on the power of the world's largest search engine

Foundem.co.uk directs shoppers to online deals for goods such as TVs or flights, but has struggled since one day it suddenly disappeared from Google search results for these categories.

There is no evidence that Google is in any way being dishonest or unfair in the way that it ranks such websites, but Foundem's fight to discover what happened has highlighted the ever-growing influence of its mysterious search algorithms.

Many consumers believe Google's search engine works on a formula that was created by founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and that was that: they set it running and the rest is history. In fact, as those in the internet industry know, Google carries out regular "tweaks" of its algorithm. About 450 a year in fact. When they are made, the sheer scale of Google – it has an estimated 90% market share in Britain – means these can have huge and often unintended consequences.</p>


Despite everything Google will say, it's not as if the EC has hurried into this. Some of the fine ought to go to Foundem, really; it was the first complainant which triggered the whole investigation.
google  antitrust  fine  search 
june 2017 by charlesarthur
How Google Book Search got lost • Backchannel
Scott Rosenberg:
<p>Today, Google is known for its moonshot culture, its willingness to take on gigantic challenges at global scale. Books was, by general agreement of veteran Googlers, the company’s first lunar mission. Scan All The Books!

In its youth, Google Books inspired the world with a vision of a “library of utopia” that would extend online convenience to offline wisdom. At the time it seemed like a singularity for the written word: We’d upload all those pages into the ether, and they would somehow produce a phase-shift in human awareness. Instead, Google Books has settled into a quiet middle age of sourcing quotes and serving up snippets of text from the 25 million-plus tomes in its database.

Google employees maintain that’s all they ever intended to achieve. Maybe so. But they sure got everyone else’s hopes up.

Two things happened to Google Books on the way from moonshot vision to mundane reality. Soon after launch, it quickly fell from the idealistic ether into a legal bog, as authors fought Google’s right to index copyrighted works and publishers maneuvered to protect their industry from being Napsterized. A decade-long legal battle followed — one that finally ended last year, when the US Supreme Court turned down an appeal by the Authors Guild and definitively lifted the legal cloud that had so long hovered over Google’s book-related ambitions.

But in that time, another change had come over Google Books, one that’s not all that unusual for institutions and people who get caught up in decade-long legal battles: It lost its drive and ambition.</p>

Alex Macgillivray who worked at Google and Twitter as a legal counsel, disagrees: "the moonshot was thinking you could create full text search for tens of millions of hard copy books," he <a href="https://twitter.com/amac/status/852172969170399232">tweeted</a>. "Many thought it could not be done in any reasonable time or cost. Including engineers on the team. 13 years later, Google has tens of millions of books all full text searchable in a split second. That's what a flag on the moon looks like."
google  books  search 
april 2017 by charlesarthur
Amazon continues to grow lead over Google as starting point for online shoppers • GeekWire
Taylor Soper:
<p>Where do you start when shopping for something online? For a majority of people, it’s Amazon — not Google.

That’s one finding from a recent research report from Raymond James that surveyed 587 people about their online habits.

The study found 52% of respondents who said they start their online purchasing process at Amazon, which is up from 47% last year, and 38% from the year prior.

That compares to 26% who say they start at a search engine. This graph shows the changing habits clearly:

<img src="https://cdn.geekwire.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Screen-Shot-2017-01-13-at-10.35.34-AM.png" width="100%" />

The trend toward Amazon and away from Google is highlighted even more so with younger shoppers aged 18-to-29, with 62% of respondents from that age group starting on Amazon versus 21% at a search engine.</p>


This is the basis of Google's argument in Europe for why it has no case to answer in the antitrust argument over suppression of comparison shopping sites in its (organic) search results. But that, of course, isn't the point of the antitrust case. It's not about "where does anyone ever search for shopping"; it's "what do people find on Google search, which has 90% of the search market".

But at the same time, this is clearly worrying for Google: if people aren't starting to shop on its site, it's left with lower-value search.
google  amazon  shopping  search 
april 2017 by charlesarthur
A deep look at Google’s biggest-ever search quality crisis • Search Engine Land
Danny Sullivan:
<p>The problem of fake news or dubious content appearing in Google’s “Top Stories” section is largely down to Google itself. It deliberately chose to allow publications beyond vetted news sites into this area back in October 2014. That’s why those fake election results appeared there. Changing the name of the section to “Top Stories” last December didn’t change the underlying problem.

Shifting back to only allowing vetted sites won’t solve the issue of Breitbart content showing up. Breitbart is a vetted site that was admitted into Google News. The only way to keep that content out would be to ban the site from Google News entirely. Some might agree with that; others might find there’s a strong argument that a publication that’s one of the few to get a one-on-one interview with President Donald Trump deserves to be retained as a news source.

Search will never be perfect. In the end, it’s good that Google is going through this search quality crisis. This new pressure is forcing it to attend to issues that can no longer be allowed to fester.

It’s not clear, however, if Google will be able to solve its biggest issue overall: the drip-drip-drip of criticism for problems that no search engine can ever fully eliminate, given how broad search is.

Google handles 5.5 billion searches per day. Per day. Billions of searches, with around 15 percent being entirely new, never asked before. Google tries to answer these questions by producing results from billions of pages from across the web. It’s an impossible task to get perfectly right every time.

Pick any search, and you can come up with something that will return objectionable or questionable results. This isn’t a new issue, as some of Google’s past search quality crises demonstrate. But possibly it’s growing, either as more questionable content flows onto the web or as more people are hyperaware of checking to see if such content surfaces in search results.</p>

The reason Google supplanted the first generation of web search engines is that it produced better results. The rivals were overwhelmed by spam and junk. If Google just gives us spam and junk and outright lies, then it's no better than what we had before - except it's dominant, where they weren't.
Google  search 
april 2017 by charlesarthur
It will take Google 22 days to find you • Motherboard
Adrianne Jeffries:
<p>Only 346 people got to glimpse Unindexed, a communal website built by Matthew Rothenberg, before it exploded.

Unindexed did two things: allow users to submit comments to the site, and constantly search for itself in Google. The latter was a suicide mission. Once it was discovered by the search engine, Unindexed self-destructed.

Users were encouraged to share the site, but warned that its discovery by Google would mean its demise. The more attention the site received, the faster death would come—like the movie Untraceable, in which a serial killer broadcasts his murders online, but infinitely less horrendous.

"Part of the goal with the project was to create a sense of unease with the participants—if they liked it, they could and should share it with others, so that the conversation on the site could grow," Rothenberg told Motherboard. "But by doing so they were potentially contributing to its demise via indexing, as the more the URL was out there, the faster Google would find it."

Unindexed didn't do much to hide itself. Much like a Manhattan speakeasy, it was only secret-ish. Rothenberg could have included instructions to Google not to index it, or hosted it on the deep web where Google's crawlers can't follow. Instead, he decided to find out how long it would take the search giant to find an obscure site that only circulated by word of mouth.</p>


Neat idea. Of course if Liam Neesom were in charge of Google he'd find the site much more quickly, and kill everyone responsible in the process.
google  search 
march 2017 by charlesarthur
Beware Google ads for ‘abortion consultations’ • Bloomberg
Alice Hines:
<p>Imagine you’re pregnant, and you don’t want to be. You type “abortion pittsburgh” into Google, and the first result is the Pittsburgh Women’s Clinic, offering “free abortion consultations.” “Only you know what’s best for you,” the Google ad reads. “Same-day appointments available. Call now!” You click and come face-to-face with a photo of a smiling woman with a stethoscope. “Looking for an abortion?” she asks in 65-point font. But you won’t get one from her or from the Pittsburgh Women’s Clinic. No clinic with that precise name exists.

The site is a landing page for a network of 41 pregnancy centers seeking to deter women from getting abortions. These centers, located in what they say are America’s “most abortion-dense cities,” are affiliated with or owned by Human Coalition—formerly Online for Life, sometimes going by the name Media Revolution Ministries—a Texas-based nonprofit that reaches “abortion-determined women” via ad campaigns shaped by search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM).</p>


Totally predictable, but the question is whether this is false advertising. Some US cities are passing ordinances against such dubious schemes.
pregnancy  abortion  search 
march 2017 by charlesarthur
Google’s YouTube has continued showing brands’ ads with racist and other objectionable videos • WSJ
Jack Nicas:
<p>A week after Google apologized for running customers’ advertisements alongside objectionable videos, triggering a change in policy, its YouTube site is still rife with examples that are angering more big advertisers and causing some to cut spending with the tech giant.

Google’s automated system placed ads for some of the world’s biggest brands—including Coca-Cola Co., Procter & Gamble, Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp.—on five YouTube videos peddling racist and anti-Semitic content, according to a review by The Wall Street Journal.

Asked about the Journal’s finding that their ads were still appearing with such content on YouTube as of Thursday night, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Dish Network Corp. said Friday they were suspending spending on all Google advertising except targeted search ads. Starbucks Corp. and General Motors Co. said they were pulling their ads from YouTube. FX Networks, part of 21st Century Fox Inc., said it was suspending all advertising spending on Google, including search ads and YouTube.

Wal-Mart said: “The content with which we are being associated is appalling and completely against our company values.”</p>


It has started to hit search ads? Stuff got real. This was Friday; I think there weren't many Google or YouTube staff relaxing at home over the weekend.
youtube  search  google  advertising 
march 2017 by charlesarthur
Systems smart enough to know when they're not smart enough • Big Medium
Josh Clark:
<p>Speed is a competitive advantage, and time is considered the enemy in most interfaces. That’s reflected in our industry’s fascination with download and rendering speeds, though those metrics are merely offshoots of the underlying user imperative, help me get this job done quickly. “Performance isn’t the speed of the page,” says Gerry McGovern. “It’s the speed of the answer.”

But it has to be the right answer. While this approach works a treat for simple facts like weather, dates, or addresses, it starts to get hairy in more ambitious topics—particularly when those topics are contentious.

<img src="https://bigmedium.com/bm.pix/did-trump-commit-treason.orig-2000.png" width="100%" />

The reasonable desire for speed has to be tempered by higher-order concerns of fact and accuracy. Every data-driven service has a threshold where confidence in the data gives way to a damaging risk of being wrong. That’s the threshold where the service can no longer offer “one true answer.” Designers have to be vigilant and honest about where that tipping point lies.</p>


It's more complex than that. Outside certain topics which are clearly bounded (weather; maths; biographical details), it's really risky to try to give answers: the potential damage to reputation is serious.
google  ai  search  data 
march 2017 by charlesarthur
There are too many ways to Google on Android • The Verge
Dieter Bohn:
<p>After agitating to get Google to bring its best apps from iOS to Android, I was gratified to see last month that Gboard, Google’s excellent iPhone keyboard, made the jump. Then I used it on my Pixel and discovered that it’s inferior to the iOS version. Google, on its own phone, built a bad Google experience.

Which got me to thinking and made me realize something: the Google experience on Google’s phone is confusing and often bad. Back when I reviewed the Pixel, I noted that there are four different ways to do a basic Google search on it — all of which have slightly different behaviors. But I undercounted! Now, with Gboard, there are at least seven different ways to do a broad Google search on the Pixel. And that doesn’t count other searches — like Maps or Email or YouTube — that are also technically using Google’s search engine.

So I documented all these different ways of searching Google on Android, to point out their various foibles. The TL;DR is this: there are a lot of ways to search Google on Android but they all give you slightly different results, which means the whole thing can make you feel a little lost.</p>


It's a neat observation, and possibly indicative of a problem within Google - what Benedict Evans calls "shipping the org chart", i.e. including stuff because manager in a position to insist their stuff is included say it should be, and nobody ever overrules them.
google  android  search 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
10 billion private searches & counting! • DuckDuckGo
DDG's chief executive and founder Gabriel Weinberg:
<p>At DuckDuckGo, our vision is to raise the standard of trust online, and in service of that vision, our mission is to be the world’s most trusted search engine.

We are proud to say that at the end of last year, we surpassed a cumulative count of 10 billion anonymous searches served, with over 4 billion in 2016! We are growing faster than ever with our first 14M day on Jan 10, 2017.

People are actively seeking out ways to reduce their digital footprint online. For example, a Pew Research study reported “40% think that their search engine provider shouldn’t retain information about their activity.”

In addition to crossing the 10 billion milestone, last year we also donated $225,000 to nine organizations that also raise the standard of trust online, and we encourage you to check them out…</p>


It's tiny compared to Google, but personally I find its results comparable; and you can copy the links directly - they're not obfuscated with tracking data like Google's.

And Weinberg has said it's profitable; it shows ads based on your intent, just as Google started out doing.
duckduckgo  search  privacy 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
Voice Search Stats - how voice search affects SEO • Branded3
Mike Jeffs:
<p>I’m not going to pretend this post is anything more than a list of statistics. Statistics on voice search that you can read and refer to in order to understand how optimising sites for users will change in 2017 as usage of voice search increase.

2017 sees the launch of Home – Google’s voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant and also the integration of Google Assistant into our TVs.  December 2016 saw Amazon’s Echo products become their most popular product over the holiday period.</p>


Some surprising ones, such as 40% of adults using voice search at least once a day (according to ComScore).
voice  search 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
Google and the misinformed public • The Chronicle of Higher Education
Safiya Noble:
<p>the convicted gunman, Dylann Roof, wrote that his radicalization on race began following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an African-American teen, and the acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman. Roof typed "black on White crime" in a Google search; he says the results confirmed (a patently false notion) that black violence on white Americans is a crisis. His source? The Council of Conservative Citizens, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as "unrepentantly racist." As Roof himself writes of his race education via Google, "I have never been the same since that day."

Roof’s Google search results did not lead him to an authoritative source of violent-crime statistics. FBI statistics show that most violence against white Americans is committed by other white Americans, and that most violence against African-Americans is committed by other African-Americans. His search did not lead him to any experts on race from the fields of African-American studies or ethnic studies at universities, nor to libraries, books, or articles about the history of race in the United States and the invention of racist myths in the service of white supremacy. Instead it delivered him misinformation, disinformation, and outright lies that bolstered his already racist outlook and violent antiblack tendencies.

Online search can oversimplify complex phenomena.</p>


Said a mouthful with that last sentence. My results (on DuckDuckGo, set to "UK" region) are: top result is a site called "New Nation" (which seems to be a white race site), second is a HuffPo article on misrepresentation, third is an FBI spreadsheet. In short, the problem extends across search engines; though I doubt Dylann Roof's racism began with the results of a Google search.
google  search  racism 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
Alphabet’s Google is searching for its next hit • The Economist
<p>When Nest, the thermostats maker, was acquired for $3.2bn in 2014, its executives were promised they could invest and expand their business for years. But when the Alphabet structure was suddenly adopted, the message changed. Overnight, units were expected to pay for their share of overhead, which irked some executives who remembered how the parent company had itself doled out big salaries and other luxuries (like free food). Few at the firm are optimistic that Alphabet is closer to devising a business as lucrative and large as search continues to be. As one former executive says, “You’re unlikely to win the lottery twice.”

Meanwhile, the way that people navigate their way around the internet is also changing, which could eventually pose a threat to Google’s search-advertising business. There are two big impending shifts. One is the use of voice as a way to get information, and the other is the rise of virtual assistants. Already, around a fifth of searches on Android devices are done by voice (as opposed to text), and that share will grow as speech recognition improves. Voice will also become more important with the spread of stand-alone devices that answer questions, such as Amazon’s Echo and Google’s own new product, Google Home, which do not support advertising…

…As well as the fact that Amazon delivers ad-free information via the Echo, the retail giant poses a direct threat to Google because more people are starting searches for electronics and other kit directly on its site, rather than through a general search engine. By one estimate, 55% of internet users now begin researching products on Amazon, depriving Google of the opportunity to deliver an ad.</p>
amazon  google  search 
december 2016 by charlesarthur
How to bump Holocaust deniers off Google’s top spot? Pay Google • The Guardian
Carole Cadwalldr, who has previously exposed how Google's Autocomplete has been captured by right-wing sites spreading false propaganda:
<p>[until Friday] anyone searching for information about the Holocaust – if it was real, if it happened, if it was a hoax, if it was fake – was being served up neo-Nazi propaganda as the top result.

Until Friday. When I gamed Google’s algorithm. I succeeded in doing what Google said was impossible. I, a journalist with almost zero computer knowhow, succeeded in changing the search order of Google’s results for “did the Holocaust happen” and “was the Holocaust a hoax”. I knocked Stormfront off the top of the list. I inserted Wikipedia’s entry on the Holocaust as the number one result. I displaced a lie with a fact.

<img src="https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/af43f4a9f036e7c6b0854e81aa6be40b407a3dcb/0_4_1010_606/master/1010.jpg" width="100%" />


How did I achieve this impossible feat? Not through writing articles. Or shaming the company into action. I did it with the only language that Google understands: money. Google has shown that it will not respond to outrage or public sentiment or any sense of morality or ethics. It does not accept that leading people with a genuine inquiry about whether the Holocaust happened to a neo-Nazi website is grossly irresponsible or that it demeans the memory of the six million Jews who died. But it was prepared to take my cold, hard cash. A Google spokesman said: “We never want to make money from searches for Holocaust denial, and we don’t allow regular advertising on those terms.”

And yet, it has already made £24.01 out of me. (This was the initial cost – it has since risen to £289.) Because this is what I did: I paid to place a Google advert at the top of its search results. “The Holocaust really happened,” I wrote as the headline to my advert. And below it: “6 million Jews really did die. These search results are propagating lies. Please take action.”</p>


Cadwalladr is fighting a terrific fight, and this demonstration that Google will take your money to say what you like, and put it at the top of the results, is an excellent jab to the ribs. (That "Ad" icon really isn't very noticeable, is it, in the same green as the text of the link? I actually missed it the first time.)

For Google, this opens the slippery slope where all results become paid.
google  search  holocaust 
december 2016 by charlesarthur
How Google's search algorithm spreads false information with a rightwing bias • The Guardian
Olivia Solon and Sam Levin:
<p>Google’s search algorithm appears to be systematically promoting information that is either false or slanted with an extreme rightwing bias on subjects as varied as climate change and homosexuality.

Following a recent investigation by the Observer, which found that Google’s search engine prominently suggests neo-Nazi websites and antisemitic writing, the Guardian has uncovered a dozen additional examples of biased search results.

Google’s search algorithm and its autocomplete function prioritize websites that, for example, declare that climate change is a hoax, being gay is a sin, and the Sandy Hook mass shooting never happened…

……there’s the secret recipe of factors that feed into the algorithm Google uses to determine a web page’s importance – embedded with the biases of the humans who programmed it. These factors include how many and which other websites link to a page, how much traffic it receives, and how often a page is updated. People who are very active politically are typically the most partisan, which means that extremist views peddled actively on blogs and fringe media sites get elevated in the search ranking.</p>


It's good that someone is still holding Google's feet to, well, the blow heater (if not the fire) over this. My one quibble would be that the headline oversells it; we don't really know. Google needs to explain itself, rather better than the boilerplate response it gives at the end of the story. (I'll bet that there were lots of anxious requests for "background chats" and "our view" from Google to Solon and Levin.)

There need to be more stories like this from more publications: it's important people understand that Google is not a neutral platform, and isn't promoting truth, just rankings.
google  search  algorithms 
december 2016 by charlesarthur
How LinkedIn’s search engine may reflect a gender bias • The Seattle Times
Matt Day:
<p>Search for a female contact on LinkedIn, and you may get a curious result. The professional networking website asks if you meant to search for a similar-looking man’s name.

A search for “Stephanie Williams,” for example, brings up a prompt asking if the searcher meant to type “Stephen Williams” instead.

It’s not that there aren’t any people by that name — about 2,500 profiles included Stephanie Williams.

But similar searches of popular female first names, paired with placeholder last names, bring up LinkedIn’s suggestion to change “Andrea Jones” to “Andrew Jones,” Danielle to Daniel, Michaela to Michael and Alexa to Alex.

The pattern repeats for at least a dozen of the most common female names in the U.S.

Searches for the 100 most common male names in the U.S., on the other hand, bring up no prompts asking if users meant predominantly female names.

LinkedIn says its suggested results are generated automatically by an analysis of the tendencies of past searchers. “It’s all based on how people are using the platform,” spokeswoman Suzi Owens said.</p>


Algorithmic bias is hard to spot, but it's there all right.
algorithm  linkedin  search  posttruth 
august 2016 by charlesarthur
There's no evidence that Google is manipulating searches to help Hillary Clinton • Vox
Timothy Lee:
<p>The video points out that if you type the phrase "Donald Trump rac," Google will suggest the word "racist" to complete the phrase. But if you type "Hillary Clinton cri," Google will suggest words like "crime reform" and "crisis" but not "crimes." This despite the fact that <a href="https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=hillary%20clinton%20crimes%2C%20hillary%20clinton%20crime%20reform&cmpt=q&tz=Etc%2FGMT%2B4">Google Trend results</a> show that people search for "Hillary Clinton crimes" a lot more than "Hillary Clinton crime reform."

So what's going on here? The folks behind the video suggest that this reflects an unholy alliance between the Clinton campaign and Eric Schmidt, the former Google CEO and current chair of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. But there’s a simpler explanation.</p>


Because autosuggest never offers "crimes". Oh, research, you are such a stranger.
google  search  hillary 
june 2016 by charlesarthur
China Focus: Investigation finds Baidu's objectivity compromised by profit model • Xinhua
<p>The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) on Monday demanded an overhaul of China's leading search-engine Baidu following an investigation.

The CAC said Baidu relied excessively on profits from paid listings in search results, and did not clearly label such listings as the result of commercial promotion, compromising the objectivity and impartiality of search results.

Like other search engines [in China], Baidu sells links that appear in search results. The more an advertiser pays, the higher it will appear in the search results. The public are likely to be misled by the search results they find on Baidu, the CAC said.

NASDAQ-listed Baidu was already in the eye of a public-relations storm after the death of Wei Zexi, 21, a computer science major at Xidian University in northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

Wei was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, in 2014 and had been undergoing a controversial cancer treatment advertised on Baidu, at the Second Hospital of Armed Police Beijing Corps, which the Wei family also found through a Baidu search. The treatment was unsuccessful and Wei died on April 12.

In February, on question-and-answer website Zhihu, a Chinese version of Quora, Wei directly accused Baidu of being at least partly to blame for his troubles. The anger of netizens who claim the search engine does not properly check the credentials of advertisers has been growing ever since.</p>


Wow. You'd think that <em>someone</em> might have chosen to use Google's search algorithm, on the basis that it works pretty well and puts you ahead of the rest.
baidu  search 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
What voice commands & queries do people use Google Now for on Android Wear smartwatches ? » London SEO
"C Byrne":
<p>To use Google Now on a smartwatch you say “OK Google”... and then your watch is listening. Wow! Now that is really creepy! You can use your voice with Android smartwatches to do things like search Google for information, get travel directions, and to create personal reminders. For example, you can say "Ok Google where's the nearest grocery store?" to find grocery stores near you . There are commands and queries unique to Google Now on Android Wear smartwatches e.g. “what’s my heart rate?” (which also may be a normal search query)…

…Based on the phrases (including those below) in my research Google Keyword Planner reported that around 67% were from mobile devices with full browsers – this may be distorted by the inclusion of the phrase “OK google” for comparison.</p>


The numbers seem pretty low - though there are fewer than 4m Android Wear devices in use, by my own calculations.
androidwear  search 
april 2016 by charlesarthur
As search changes, Google changes » Search Engine Land
Adam Dorfman:
<p>Recently, a company known as MindMeld, which provides voice search technologies, surveyed US smartphone users and found that <a href="http://www.lsainsider.com/the-rise-of-voice-search-60-started-using-in-past-12-months/">60% had started using voice search within the past year</a>. You can also see a rise in search queries that are clearly voice commands when you look at Google Trends for phrases such as “call mom,” which are highly unlikely to be typed into a search box.

<img src="http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2016/04/callmom.png" width="100%" />

Voice search is no longer coming. It’s here.

These changes do not bode well for Google’s traditional revenue model, which relies on serving up ads while you search on Google.com. The user interface of talking to your mobile phone or wearable device to order a pizza does not leave any room for a paid search ad. So it’s not surprising that display advertising spend is overtaking search ad spend, and the gap between the two will widen over the next few years.</p>


But, as Dorfman points out, Google is adapting. That graph of "call mom" is definitely one which would merit playing around with using a few other search terms. <a href="https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=%22call%20home%22%2C%20%22call%20mom%22%2C%20%22call%20dad%22%2C%20%22call%20John%22%2C%20%22call%20mary%22&cmpt=q&tz=Etc%2FGMT-1">Here's</a> "Call home" against "call Mom" against "call Dad" and "call John" and "call Mary".
google  search 
april 2016 by charlesarthur
Is Firefox search worth $375m/year to a Yahoo buyer? » Tech.pinions
I dug into Yahoo's and Mozilla's financials:
<p>Who stands to lose if Yahoo is sold — besides of course Marissa Mayer, who will probably lose her job along with a fair number of Yahoo staff? The surprising, and unobvious, answer is Mozilla and the Firefox browser.

That’s because Mozilla is highly dependent on a five-year contract with Yahoo, signed in December 2014, where it receives about $375m per year to make Yahoo the default search provider in the Firefox browser on the desktop. From 2004 to 2014, that contract was exclusively with Google; now it’s Yahoo in the US, Google in Europe, Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China.

How much is $375m per year compared to Mozilla’s spending? Most of it.</p>


Is a Yahoo buyer really going to think that is a deal worth continuing with?
yahoo  mozilla  search 
april 2016 by charlesarthur
The top 100 most expensive keywords in the UK: new research » Search Engine Watch
Chris Lake:
<p>Back in the day, around 2003, somebody asked me a question regarding paid search: “Do you know what the most expensive keyword is on Google Adwords, and how much it costs?”

I made a bunch of guesses, gradually increasing the amount I thought it might be acceptable to pay every time somebody clicks on an ad. £20? No? £30? Surely not!

The grand reveal was that I was horribly wrong, and that some advertisers were paying “about £70 a click” for the term ‘mesothelioma’, which is a type of cancer associated with exposure to asbestos. It was immediately apparent that legal firms would spend that kind of money because they were hunting for big ticket compensation lawsuits.

Roll forward to the present day and I wondered how things had changed, as Google’s revenues have grown to more than $67bn globally and keyword inflation is a big deal in a lot of sectors.

The good folks at SEMrush provided me with a huge list of the most expensive keywords in five countries, and for my first piece of research I’ve focused on the UK.

I had 2,000 keywords to analyse (from its database of 12m in the UK) and here are the top results…</p>


Now it's gambling which leads the pack; gambling-related keywords make up 67 of the 100 most expensive key word searches.

In other words, if you're using Google services for free in the UK (and who isn't?), then gambling helps pay for it through the expensive keyword ads. The next ones? Financial spread betting and day trading; "big data" and cloud services; business-to-business (especially cheap electricity); and legal compensation. Gambling, finance (or gambling finance), tech, legal and B2B complete the 100.

Would love to know what percent of total AdWord revenues come from each category, and what percentage the top 100 represent.
search  google  keyword 
april 2016 by charlesarthur
University of California at Davis spent thousands to scrub pepper-spray references from internet » The Sacramento Bee
Sam Stanton and Diana Lambert:
<p>UC Davis contracted with consultants for at least $175,000 to scrub the Internet of negative online postings following the November 2011 pepper-spraying of students and to improve the reputations of both the university and Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, newly released documents show.

The payments were made as the university was trying to boost its image online and were among several contracts issued following the pepper-spray incident.

Some payments were made in hopes of improving the results computer users obtained when searching for information about the university or Katehi, results that one consultant labeled “venomous rhetoric about UC Davis and the chancellor.”

Others sought to improve the school’s use of social media and to devise a new plan for the UC Davis strategic communications office, which has seen its budget rise substantially since Katehi took the chancellor’s post in 2009. Figures released by UC Davis show the strategic communications budget increased from $2.93m in 2009 to $5.47m in 2015.</p>


The "right to be forgotten for enough money". (It's done by stuffing the web with "favourable" content about the organisation, and/or seeking to get the other content removed.)
california  education  search  rtbf 
april 2016 by charlesarthur
Kiddle: The child-friendly search engine has no affiliation with Google | Alphr
<p>Kiddle.co is a search engine that uses Google’s results, but it’s not a Google product.

A glance at the homepage makes it pretty easy to see how confusion would arise. To put it charitably, the site’s owners haven’t exactly gone out of their way to set the two apart:

<img src="http://cdn1.alphr.com/sites/alphr/files/styles/insert_main_wide_image/public/2016/02/kiddle_homepage_not_google.png" width="100%" />

What we actually have here is a search engine that uses Google's Custom Search bar and human editors to filter out grim results with, I think it’s fair to say, patchy results…

…In theory, Kiddle offers a combination of safe search, results tailored for children (positions 1-3 are safe sites written for children, 4-7 come from safe sites not written for children but accessible, and 8+ are just safe sites) and large clear fonts.</p>


In reality: nope. And the ads are Google's, and unfiltered, so you can see how that could quickly go south.
google  search  kids 
february 2016 by charlesarthur
Google's New SERP Layout: The Biggest Winners & Losers » Search Engine Land
Larry Kim on Google's new layout, which puts four ads above the organic search results and gets rid of the ones on the side:
<p>As always, Google is a zero-sum game. For everyone who wins, someone must lose. In that spirit, I’ve compiled a list of the four biggest winners and losers as a result of Google’s new desktop ad layout so far.

The proof is in the data. I looked at WordStream customer data (thousands of accounts across all industries) and determined that side and bottom ads account for just 14.6% of total clicks.

As Alistair Dent noted in his <a href="http://searchengineland.com/googles-new-layout-means-ppc-242912">post</a> analyzing iProspect UK clients, ads in the top positions get 14x higher click-through rate than the same ad on the same keyword on the right side.

It’s also important to remember that this change only impacts desktop, which now accounts for less than half of all searches. So, really, this will impact 7.3% of queries.</p>


Those low numbers for side clicks suggests that people saw them as ads, whereas they don't with the ads sitting on the top.
google  search 
february 2016 by charlesarthur
News discovery » Sqoop
It's a new Seattle-based startup, which mines US SEC documents and others for current information:
<p>Sqoop saves you time and makes sure you don’t miss the story by giving you one place to search for company information, rather than spending hours each week conducting the same repetitive searches across a variety of public data sites. You can set alerts so that when new documents are filed, we’ll alert you how and when you want.</p>


One to kick the tyres on. (I previously used SECAlerts.com but found it impossible to change settings.) Thanks to <a href="https://twitter.com/djsenior13/">David Senior</a> for the pointer.
data  research  search 
february 2016 by charlesarthur
Knowledge Engine: Wikimedia Foundation takes aim at Google with $3.5m search project » ABC News
<p>Online encyclopedia Wikipedia is preparing to tackle Google's dominance of internet search with the launch of a $3.5 million program to build a "Search Engine by Wikipedia".

Wikipedia's parent organisation, the Wikimedia Foundation, had in September been awarded a $US250,000 ($A350,000) grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, but only publicised the grant in the past week.

The grant is to be used "To advance new models for finding information by supporting stage one development of the Knowledge Engine by Wikipedia," the Knight Foundation's grant letter to the Wikimedia Foundation read.</p>


Table stakes for a search engine back in 2003 were $100m (that's what Microsoft put into it), though maybe they've come down a little since then.

Come back in a year or two and see the wreckage.
wikipedia  search 
february 2016 by charlesarthur
Google revamps travel search queries, almost making web results irrelevant » Search Engine Land
Barry Schwartz:
<p>Google has <a href="http://www.koddi.com/google-launches-trip-planning/">quietly</a> revamped the mobile user interface for travel-related searches. The result of the change makes it really hard to get to the organic web results once you click on the “more destinations” button. Let me walk you through the experience.</p>


This is called "thrusting the user head-first into the sales funnel".
google  travel  search 
february 2016 by charlesarthur
Google search chief [Amit] Singhal to retire, replaced by AI exec » Bloomberg Business
Jack Clark:
<p>“When I started [at Google in 2000], who would have imagined that in a short period of fifteen years, we would tap a button, ask Google anything and get the answer,” Singhal wrote in a Google+ post announcing his retirement. “My dream Star Trek computer is becoming a reality, and it is far better than what I ever imagined.”

With Giannandrea’s appointment, the technology may get smarter. The executive has overseen recent artificial intelligence efforts, including RankBrain, which saw Google plug an AI technology called a neural network into its search engine to boost the accuracy of results and an e-mail service called Smart Reply that automatically writes responses. Other work he has managed include efforts in image recognition and technologies that fetch information based on what users are doing with their devices, rather than what they’re explicitly searching for.

[John] Giannandrea joined Google in 2010 when it acquired a company he co-founded called Metaweb Technologies. Those assets became the basis for Google’s knowledge graph, a vast store of information on hundreds of millions of entities that helps the search engine present factual data in response to certain queries. Singhal’s last day is scheduled to be Feb. 26.
The elevation of Giannandrea represents a further emphasis on the importance of artificial intelligence to Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc. Chief executive officer Sundar Pichai said the technology has been key to recent efforts in search on mobile devices and personal assistant technologies.</p>


Speaking of search..
google  search  ai 
february 2016 by charlesarthur
Google paid Apple $1bn to keep search bar on iPhone » Bloomberg Business
Joel Rosenblatt:
<p>The revenue-sharing agreement reveals the lengths Google must go to keep people using its search tool on mobile devices. It also shows how Apple benefits financially from Google’s advertising-based business model that Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has criticized as an intrusion of privacy.

Oracle has been fighting Google since 2010 over claims that the search engine company used its Java software without paying for it to develop Android. The showdown has returned to U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco after a pit stop at the U.S. Supreme Court, where Google lost a bid to derail the case. The damages Oracle now seeks may exceed $1 billion since it expanded its claims to cover newer Android versions.

Annette Hurst, the Oracle attorney who disclosed details of the Google-Apple agreement at last week’s court hearing, said a Google witness questioned during pretrial information said that “at one point in time the revenue share was 34 percent.” It wasn’t clear from the transcript whether that percentage is the amount of revenue kept by Google or paid to Apple.</p>


It's a good point: if Apple is so critical of Google's business model, why is it happy to take money to let it run that business model on iOS? True, Safari blocks third-party cookies (including DoubleClick, the ad network Google owns) - until you sign in to Google. But still a point of contradiction, rather like iAds.
apple  google  search 
january 2016 by charlesarthur
Google claims mobile search result impacting Yelp, TripAdvisor is 'a bug' » Re/code
Mark Bergen:
<p>Over the weekend, executives from public Internet companies Yelp and TripAdvisor noted a disturbing trend: Google searches on smartphones for their businesses had suddenly buried their results beneath Google’s own. It looked like a flagrant reversal of Google’s stated position on search, and a move to edge out rivals.

<img src="https://recodetech.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/screen-shot-2015-11-23-at-9-33-12-pm.png" width="100%" />

Nope, it’s a bug, claims Google. “The issues cited were caused by a recent code push, which we’re working quickly to fix,” a Google spokeswoman said.

In the meantime, the “issues” may be diverting tons of traffic from Google’s competitors. Some, particularly Google’s longtime rival Yelp, are not pleased. “Far from a glitch, this is a pattern of behavior by Google,” said its CEO Jeremy Stoppelman.</p>


Have there been many - or any - occasions where these code pushes have accidentally buried Google's products?
google  mobile  search 
november 2015 by charlesarthur
Google annual search Statistics » Statistic Brain
The number of annual searches conducted by Google, according to ComScore and the "Statistic Brain Research Institute" (sounds grand).

Compare the numbers in the top two lines of the table. It suggests that in 2014 the total number of Google searches fell, for the first time ever. Even within margins of error, that suggests search growth has stopped.
google  search 
november 2015 by charlesarthur
The number of people using search engines is in decline » Business Insider
Lara O'Reilly:
<p>search is facing a huge challenge. The paid search business was built on a desktop browser model. And consumers are increasingly shifting to mobile. On mobile, consumers say they just don't search as much as they used to because they have apps that cater to their specific needs. They might still perform searches within those apps, but they're not doing as many searches on traditional search engines (although Google, Bing, and so on do power some in-app search engines.)

It sounds obvious, but there's new data to show it's a trend that's really happening. And it could have a severe impact on Google's (and Bing, and Yahoo's) core search business. Indeed, <a href="http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Google-Will-Take-55-of-Search-Ad-Dollars-Globally-2015/1012294">data from eMarketer shows search ad spend growth is set to decline from 2014 through to 2019</a>.

Speaking at digital trade show Dmexco in Cologne earlier this week, global communications agency ZenithOptimedia's chief digital officer Stefan Bardega and research company GlobalWebIndex's head of trends Jason Mander gave a mobile trends presentation. It was the slides on search that made the audience really sit up and start taking notes and photos.</p>


And it's this:<br clear="all" /><img src="http://static6.uk.businessinsider.com/image/55fc434bdd0895843d8b46b0-1671-890/gwi%20search%20data.png" width="100%" /><br />App usage and voice search both contribute too. How do you sell an ad beside a voice search?
apps  google  search 
september 2015 by charlesarthur
Staff exodus plus pressure from Microsoft and Apple hits Google Now » Re/code
Mark Bergen:
[Sundar] Pichai [who now heads Google] is known as an executive who seeks consensus rather than conflict. A former Googler who worked on Now recalled Pichai’s response to their protests [when Google Now was shifted from the Android division to the search division - seen as the "boring" area, and not the right fit for a mobile OS framework]: “‘Look, I’ve got a lot on my plate. Chrome and Android are my top priorities. Google Now is not on that. I can’t fight that battle for you.’”

Now has its own battles in store. It has a solid user base, more than a hundred million monthly ones, according to multiple sources. (Google declined to comment on these numbers.) Yet it’s unclear how active those users are, and only a slim slice of them are on the iOS app.

Apple, for its part, looks prepared to launch a competitor to Now on Tap. With its proactive assistant and spotlight search, the Apple entry could elbow Google out. Several people said it was unusual for Google to pre-announce a feature like Now on Tap before it is ready. That hurriedness may have been to pre-empt Apple’s announcement the following month.

And now Bing, which powers search on Apple devices, has its own Now on Tap foil.


iOS 9, with Proactive, will make Google Now largely pointless for the vast majority of iOS users; Google Now will be fine for Android users. Microsoft might pick up a few diehards, but it's hard to see it really making an impact.

Google, meanwhile, is discovering internal politics in a big way. And that's before Alphabet.
google  search  assistant 
august 2015 by charlesarthur
How Lycos almost won the search engine wars » Gizmodo
Jim Gilliam with a tale from the pit:
A few months later, our team made a huge discovery. In our ongoing efforts to make search results better, Dennis set up an eye-tracking lab and began scientific testing of how people used search. We watched where people looked on the pages and noticed something shocking: people didn’t look at the ads. Not only that, but the more we tried to make the ads stand out, the less people looked at them. Our entire advertising philosophy was based on making ads flashy so people would notice them. But we saw, quite counterintuitively, that people instinctively knew that the good stuff was on the boring part of the page, and that they ignored the parts of the page that we—and the advertisers—wanted them to click on.

This discovery would give us an edge over everyone in the industry. All we had to do was make the ads look less like ads and more like text. But that was not what the ad people wanted, and the ad people ran Lycos. The advertiser was seen as our true customer, since advertising was where our revenue came from. Our team argued that our customers were also the people searching, and without them, we’d lose the advertisers. The eye-tracking revelation wasn’t enough to convince them, so we tried another tack.

In the ultracompetitive world of search engines, the biggest factor aside from the quality of the results was how fast they loaded. We were constantly trying to take things out of the pages to make them load faster. So I created a program that took queries coming into our site and ran them on all the major search engines, ranking them in order of speed.


And guess which speed-obsessed, blinky-ad-ignoring company came along next? It's an extract from Gilliam's new book, The Internet Is My Religion. Have a <a href="http://www.internetismyreligion.com/">free download of the book</a>.
internet  search 
july 2015 by charlesarthur
Apple's Siri, Spotlight extend Google-like search inside iOS 9 apps, without tracking users » Apple Insider
Daniel Eran Dilger:
Because Apple is indexing in-app content for its search results, it can more easily suppress "Search Engine Optimization" malicious content or link spamming, as relevancy is tied to user engagement. If few users find a search result worthwhile, it can fade from relevance.

Many of the new search-related features Apple debuted for iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan bear a strong resemblance to some of predictive search features first introduced by Google starting back in 2012 as part of Android 4.1, branded as "Google Now."

Since then, Google has introduced "app indexing," a related feature designed to make the company's web-style search more relevant to mobile users by delivering results that can open within local apps. For example, a recipe might open within a cookbook app, rather than just presenting the same information on a web page or dumping users into the app to find the recipe on their own.

The most profound difference between the two companies' approach to in-app search is that Apple does not monetize its search with ads, and therefore has no need to capture and store users' data and behaviors for future profiling, tied to a persistent user and device identifier that individuals can't easily remove.


Apple is perhaps two years behind Google on this - but most people are using a version of Android that is at least two years old (87% are using 4.4, KitKat, from November 2013, or earlier). Which means that by November or so, Apple will roughly have parity on this feature.
apple  inapp  search 
june 2015 by charlesarthur
The Google-Twitter deal goes live, giving tweets prominent placement in Google's results » Search Engine Land
Danny Sullivan:
Sometimes, tweets might not appear at all. We asked Google about why tweets might show, what controls exactly where they show, if they’re showing all tweets for a query in chronological order or filtering in some way such as to block obscenity or to surface more popular tweets. The company wouldn’t answer any of those questions.

Google’s blog post on the deal does say:
It’s a great way to get real-time info when something is happening. And it’s another way for organizations and people on Twitter to reach a global audience at the most relevant moments.

So presumably, you’re more likely to see tweets in Google when a hashtag, topic, person or organization appears to be trending or is newsworthy.


Twitter also says there's no "direct" monetisation. (But of course it gets traffic.) Useful deal for both companies. I can only see them getting closer; their interests are aligning more and more.
google  twitter  search 
may 2015 by charlesarthur
Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer on Q4 2014 results - earnings call transcript » Seeking Alpha
This is from January, where Mayer was asked whether Yahoo would try to knock Google off iOS as the search default (as it has on Firefox in the US - because Google didn't bid, I understand):
I will take the question on the Safari deal. The Safari platform is basically one of the premiere search engine in the world, if not the premiere search engine in the world. We are definitely in the search distribution business. I think we stated that really clearly in the past and I think with Mozilla and also in addition we brought Amazon and eBay onboard with smaller distribution partnerships in Q4, we are in search distribution business and anyone who is in that business needs to be interested in the Safari deal.

The Safari users are among the most engaged and lucrative users in the world and it’s something that we would really like to be able to provide. We work really closely with Mozilla to ultimately bring to their users an experience that they designed and that they feel really suit those users and we welcome the opportunity with any other partner to do the same, particularly one with Apple’s volume and end user base.


I think when she said "the premiere search engine in the world", she meant "one of the most-used browsers to access search engines". Statcounter data suggests Safari was used for half of US smartphone and tablet use in March; if Mayer crazy enough to try to buy that search deal when it comes up later this year? (There's no mention of it in the <a href="http://seekingalpha.com/article/3088356-yahoo-yhoo-marissa-ann-mayer-on-q1-2015-results-earnings-call-transcript?part=single">Q1 earnings transcript</a>.)
yahoo  safari  search 
april 2015 by charlesarthur
EU to investigate transparency of Internet search results: document » Reuters
Julia Fioretti:
In a draft of the Commission's strategy for creating a digital single market, seen by Reuters, it says it will "carry out a comprehensive investigation and consultation on the role of platforms, including the growth of the sharing economy."

The investigation, expected to be carried out next year, will look into the transparency of search results - involving paid for links and advertisements - and how platforms use the information they acquire.

European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip is expected to formally announce the new strategy on May 6.

The transparency of search results came under particular scrutiny this week when the European competition chief accused Google of cheating competitors by distorting web search results to consistently favor its own shopping service.

There are concerns in Europe over how Internet companies such as Facebook and Amazon use the huge amounts of personal data they acquire.

The inquiry will also look at how platforms compensate rights-holders for showing copyrighted material and limits on the ability of individuals and businesses to move from one platform to another.


Don't hold your breath for when this will report, though, or whether any of it will be implemented.
ec  google  search 
april 2015 by charlesarthur
The ducks are always greener » Marco.org
Marco Arment:
My principles are only diverging further from Google’s over time, and I feel a bit defeated whenever I turn to them for anything anymore, so I attacked my primary dependence head-on: web search.

In my experience so far, DuckDuckGo’s search is good enough the vast majority of the time. Sometimes, its results are even better than Google’s, and they’re rarely much worse.


The number of people moving to DuckDuckGo is growing, very slowly; they're finding that search is a commodity.
google  duckduckgo  search 
april 2015 by charlesarthur
I’ve seen the new face of Search, and it ain’t Google » Alex Iskold
The "ten blue links" aren't optimum on mobile (Google already knows this, of course);
imagine, that instead of Google text field or browser bar, you get a familiar Text Messaging interface and you can ask questions. Here is what happens next:

1. You will ask questions in the natural form, like you do in real life.

2. Your questions will be naturally compact, because you are used to compact form of text messaging, but they won’t be one word or one phrase like we type into Google. You still can have typos, and missing punctuation.

3. This format naturally lends itself onto the conversation. That is, you don’t expect 10 links, you expect a human response. And you expect to respond in response to this response, and so on – that is, you expect a conversation.

4. ‘The answer’ will be things / objects / places, and links will become secondary. The answer will be 1 or 2 or 3 things but not 10 things. The choice will be naturally added via a conversation and iteration, not by pushing 10 links on the user upfront.

5. You won’t be able to tell the difference between a person or machine replying to you. This is where all the amazing AI stuff (looking at you, Amy) is going to come handy and will really shine.

6. You won’t think of this as search anymore, but as your command and control for all things you need – tasks, purchases and of course good old search. It will be like Siri, except it will be based on text, and have a lot more capabilities. And it will actually work great. (No offense Siri, but you have ways to go).


Sounds a bit like the (failed) Jelly, but he suggests <a href="http://www.getmagicnow.com/">Magic</a>, <a href="http://sensay.it/">Sensay</a> and <a href="http://www.producthunt.com/posts/cloe">Cloe</a> as possible implementations. This feels like it's heading in the right direction. Search shouldn't really be might-be-right links on mobile.
google  search  mobile  text 
march 2015 by charlesarthur
May 2012: once deemed evil, Google now embraces "paid inclusion"
Danny Sullivan, in May 2012, noting changes in how Google represented and collated its Flight Search, Hotel Search and Shopping categories so that they became pay-to-play for companies to appear - a reversal of Google's previous stance:
paid inclusion isn’t necessarily bad, especially if it’s used to solve an otherwise difficult challenge in search, rather than being an excuse to generate revenue. However, it it still feels odd watching Google, having previously attacked the objectivity of its competitors over the practice, quietly adopt paid inclusion now that it’s the search market leader. That doesn’t sit right. At the very least, I kind of want someone at Google to acknowledge that it was wrong those years ago.

Postscript (7:30pm ET): Google, after seeing this article, sent along this statement about paid inclusion:
Paid inclusion has historically been used to describe results that the website owner paid to place, but which were not labelled differently from organic search results.  We are making it very clear to users that there is a difference between these results for which Google may be compensated by the providers, and our organic search results.

I have to disagree.


The reason I'm linking to this now is that it's pertinent to all the antitrust discussion that's reopening in Europe over Google and particularly vertical search. Google presents its results as untouched by human hand, but there's a whole lotta touching really going on. (One point on the headline: Sullivan means that paid inclusion used to be deemed evil, not Google.)
business  google  search 
february 2015 by charlesarthur
Yahoo gains further US search share in January » StatCounter Global Stats
January saw Yahoo further increase the gain it made in US search share last month, according to the latest data from independent website analytics provider, StatCounter. Google fell below 75% in the US for the first time since StatCounter Global Stats began recording data [in June 2008].

StatCounter Global Stats reports that in January, Google took 74.8% of US search referrals followed by Bing on 12.4% and Yahoo on 10.9%, its highest US search share for over five years.


This is desktop-only, of course, and it's not a giant change. But US users are surely the most valuable ones. Take Firefox out of the equation, and Google's share remains where it was (despite <a href="http://searchengineland.com/google-encouraging-firefox-users-change-search-engine-home-page-213314">Google's attempts to win them back</a>)

So what sort of people use Firefox and don't change their search engine back to Google? Well, there's Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of the Guardian's US operation. Did she notice the change?

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/charlesarthur">@charlesarthur</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/alexhern">@alexhern</a> I noticed !</p>&mdash; Katharine Viner (@KathViner) <a href="https://twitter.com/KathViner/status/562213757300903936">February 2, 2015</a>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

So why's she sticking with Yahoo? <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/charlesarthur">@charlesarthur</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/alexhern">@alexhern</a> I thought I&#39;d give it a go. Embracing the new !</p>&mdash; Katharine Viner (@KathViner) <a href="https://twitter.com/KathViner/status/562214149329940480">February 2, 2015</a>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
firefox  google  yahoo  search 
february 2015 by charlesarthur
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