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In search of the best, or why Google and Yahoo may not win the war

iStock_000003985556XSmall.jpgThe idea of universal search is a hot one in the online marketing world. If you're not familiar with the term, it's basically the joining of multiple types of content into one cohesive result. For example, if you go to Google right now and search for "apples", the main listing that returns to you are text links to text content (sometimes photos and video are added in-line). They are including blogs and other social media, but it's all text based. If you want to expand your search to video, photos, pro message boards, etc. you have to click another link and you get another set of independent results. Universal search combines everything you need into one set of results.

There are a couple of sites (experimental and otherwise) where companies are playing around with this idea. Ask.com is leading the pack with their current integrated solution as Google and Yahoo play around with the idea in beta (here and here respectively).

Here is a screenshot from Ask's result page. Note the images, Wikipedia and news items pulled into the right column to supplement the text results

Ask.com search results

If you look at the text results from each of these services, there is little differentiation. Different algorithms give different priorities, but for the most part you get the same results at Google, Yahoo, Live search or Ask. Wikipedia is universally accessed as are dictionary.com and sites like Amazon.com.

The difference comes when you look at the unique properties that each search company owns. Take a look at the following, ultra-simple diagram.

webinabox.png

[Click to enlarge]

My main question here is can Google win at search if Yahoo owns the best photo content? Can Yahoo win if Google owns the best user-generated video content?

Right now there is almost no sharing between them, so if you do a Google image search, you will not get Flickr images in your result and the same goes with searching for video on Yahoo as you won't get the best YouTube results.

Some questions for you to ponder and share:


  • Should the companies open up all of their content to one another for the benefit of the end users? Or will they start blocking access?
  • If you were Google would you sacrifice the content in the Yahoo network to make sure they can't access your content?
  • Would they be violating each other's terms of service since they both make money selling ads based on the results?
  • If it's not Google or Yahoo or Ask or Microsoft, who will emerge? Could it be a human-powered option like Mahalo?
  • Are people getting enough from their search engine of choice that they don't need a new option?

I can't wait to hear what you have to say.


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Just say NO to Quechup

noquechup.pngI've been had. Hoodwinked. Sadly and inadvertently I may have brought you into the mess. There is a new service out there called Quechup (I will not link to it) which is posing as a legit social network. It is NOT.

This all started when I received an invite from a trusted friend. Somebody whom I respect and admire, but the email came (unknown to me) without his consent. Here is how this new scheme works. On a number of sites from Twitter to LinkedIn, you can log in to your Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail address book to see if any of your contacts already use the service. Normally, they just show you who has joined already and let you connect with them. This Quechup site did the same thing except they SPAMMED my entire contact list! What the hell is up with that?

I am sorry and totally sick about falling for this stupid trick. Their site is horrible and obviously run by people who either don't know how this works or are just unethical in their handling of data.

Here are steps you should take to make sure this does not happen to you:


  • Do a Google blog search and Technorati search before you sign up
  • Do not use your Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail login unless you 100% want the people in your contact list to be contacted for whatever you are logging in for (even if you trust the company)
  • Even if you trust the person you are getting an invite from, follow up with them and ask if it's legit
  • Give every invite at least 48 hours before you jump in

I will be following these steps and I hope you do too. If you got an invite from me, please send it to the trash and accept my heartfelt apology. Just say no to these jerks.

P.S. If anybody from Google, Yahoo or Microsoft reads this you should look into blocking their API access since they're violating your agreements. If you know anybody at these companies please feel free to pass this post to them.

[Update:] Lots of people got hit with this thing in the past day. To report these jerks to the services they're using to scam people you can do the following:


  • Google: Send an email about their scam to code-hosting@google.com and be specific to their URL and what they did wrong.
  • Yahoo: Complete this form stating your Yahoo ID and other pertinent info
  • Federal Trade Commission: Fill out this form to report them to the FTC

If you find another option to report them please leave a link in the comments and I'll add them here.


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