There are strange goings on in the search engine world these days. Following Microsoft’s plan to bring Yahoo! and Bing together, it seems strange that BT Yahoo, the primary broadband supplier, is now showing Google results in their Yahoo! based search engine.
I say strange goings on – yet the move does make sense. BT Yahoo is the number one broadband portal and Google is the number one search engine with reports of a market share as high as 90%. If BT Yahoo is looking to provide a service to their clients then it makes sense to provide search functions through the number one search engine.
What is happening is that BT Yahoo is bleeding traffic from their web site. Users are either going to Google UK to undertake searches, or using a Google search feature in their toolbars. Either way, BT Yahoo is losing the traffic. By providing search results through Google, they are offering what the user wants right there on their web site. Mind you, it seems that image and video search is still coming through Yahoo!
Other search engine news that is worth pointing out is that of OneRiot, a real-time search engine that has just acquired US$7 million in venture capital funding. Real-time search is one direction that search engines are looking to make big moves towards over the next 12/18 months. OneRiot is one search engine that is already there, although I haven’t been too impressed with the results to date.
I searched for information on the ‘US Open’ and the results were interesting. Number one was the US Open home site, that was to be expected. Number two was a Honolulu newspaper report whilst position number three was held by the latest tweets from Twitter. Positions four to ten were newspaper articles.
Can we use real-time search to our advantage? It will be interesting to see how real-time search actually pans out. From that initial search, eight of the results were from news sources whilst one, at number three, was from a social site; only one was in any way a commercial site.
Having tried another dozen search terms, the general feeling was disappointing. A non-news term like ‘ice cream’ drew some interesting results with Twitpic filling a number of top spots. Plurk got a mention but only two ‘commercial’ sites listed and an eBay listing. Quite a few search terms resulted in eBay listings.
What is interesting is that Twitter appeared at number three for most search terms. Perhaps to rank in OneRiot searches, just tweet frequently with your keywords and you’re likely to gain a listing – either that or list yourself on eBay!
I am sure over time they will fine tune this, however, if social media is going to dominate results in OneRiot, and any of the other real-time search engines, then you can expect a big marketing drive through social sites.