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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Google Concedes Yahoo has the Answers

Google gives up on its answers product while Yahoo integrates its answers product with search. Could this differentiate Yahoo's search from Google's or does Google recognize this is not an area they can monetize? Perhaps this is an indication that Yahoo is moving towards social search. They're already engaged in the web2.0 social media space with acquisitions like and Flickr. The Google blog refers to Google Answers as "a great experiment" and indicates that a little over 800 people participated over the last 4+ years. Because of Yahoo's Hollywood connections, they trump that with one answer (question posed by Oprah Winfrey). Try these examples to see answers integrated with search (scroll to bottom of search results page): best hybrid car, stocking stuffers, black friday.

I think Yahoo should leverage their property to improve their search product. They could tack on results, much like they've done with answers. Better yet, they could use the collective intelligence of social bookmarking to improve their search relevance algorithm. Google's big breakthrough was PageRank which uses links as a measure of a web page's relevance. Google looks at both the quantity and quality of links and treats these links as, essentially, votes for a site. I think a page bookmarked via could be a better indicator of the importance of a web page than links. Particularly as webmasters have caught on to this idea and links have been gamed to a large degree. If someone views a page as important enough to bookmark, perhaps that's a better "vote" than a link? If Yahoo integrated bookmarks in its search engine algorithm, could the results be more relevant than Google's?

Time is another factor. With current search engine technology, it can take weeks for a web page to show up in the SERPs (search engine results pages). It takes time for crawlers to find a web page and then index it. A new web page could be very relevant for a given search result but not be present. That new web page could propagate very quickly through the blogosphere and be bookmarked by a large number of people in hour or days, not weeks. If Yahoo leveraged that collective bookmarking, their SERPs could be fresher than Google's. If Yahoo updated their SERPs on even just a daily basis and included web pages from the popular and recent bookmarks, could their SERPs be more relevant than Google's? This might even obviate the need for a separate blog search engine (like Technorati or Google blog search). How about it, Yahoo? Use some of your peanut butter and stick to search!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Results from MyWeb have been integrated into Yahoo! Search for quite a while -- since before Yahoo! bought, I think.

Wed Nov 29, 02:21:00 PM EST  
Blogger Richard said...

What's MyWeb? ;-)

Thu Nov 30, 12:33:00 AM EST  

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