Facebook has announced a new search feature dubbed Graph Search, a service which is built atop the network’s Social Graph. CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company has been working on Graph Search for years, and claims it offers something that no other service can. It is available as a limited preview right now for English audiences only.
Zuckerburg made it clear that this isn’t a Web search service, and that user privacy has been taken into concern. Graph search is designed to take a precise query and deliver an answer. While Facebook says users can only search for content that has been shared with them, it is possible to search for things such as “TV shows watched by doctors” or “Music liked by people who like Mitt Romney” or even “Languages my friend speaks”.
Facebook’s CEO says that every piece of content on Facebook has its own audience with most of it not available to the public. Currently, you can only search for content that has been shared with you.
The Web giant announced Tuesday that it plans to follow the activities of users across nearly all of its ubiquitous sites, including YouTube, Gmail and its leading search engine.
Google has already been collecting some of this information. But for the first time, it is combining data across its Web sites to stitch together a fuller portrait of users.
Consumers who are logged into Google services won’t be able to opt out of the changes, which take effect March 1. And experts say the policy shift will invite greater scrutiny from federal regulators of the company’s privacy and competitive practices.
Sounds creepy, and while beneficial, I still find it a little jarring to see advertisements pop up in my GMail account that are clearly generated by a keyword search of the email I’m looking at.
It’s also not very smart. No, Google, I’m just talking to my friend Victoria — not looking for sexy panties.
Do you shove lots of ads at the top of your web pages? Think again. Tired of doing a Google search and landing on these types of pages? Rejoice. Google has announced that it will penalize sites with pages that are top-heavy with ads.
Top Heavy With Ads? Look Out!
The change — called the “page layout algorithm” — takes direct aim at any site with pages where content is buried under tons of ads.
From Google’s post on its Inside Search blog today:
We’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away.
So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change. If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience.
Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.
Interesting. Take that, /Film!
Google wants to be an integral part of your quest for knowledge. Or put another way, Google wants to be a part of how you think. To that end it rolled out a slew of new tools today designed to more or less encourage you to embed it in your brain.
Follow the jump to see all of Google’s crazy new genius ideas.
Google announced today that it has begun indexing attribution of content to particular authors, not just to the websites they appear on. Links associated with the author of a page can now have the code rel=”author” added to them and Google will understand that to mean that the linked name is the linking page’s author. That’s a potentially significant change to the balance of power between sites and the individuals that create for them. Widespread adoption of rel=”author” in a web of open data could create a wide variety of other possibilities as well. There’s no reason to believe that Google will be the only company indexing this structured markup. That which is marked-up in a standardized, publicly and programmatically accessible way can be measured, monitored, optimized and more. Now the work, and the success, of particular authors will be trackable across publishing platforms and websites. There are a lot of future scenarios that could become real as a result of this. Imagine a famous author, for example, able to leave one of the great publications of the previous era and take their PageRank (or a future AuthorRank) with them. That could shake things up and that’s just one of many things that could be possible with the instrumentation of authorship.
Google’s much-discussed +1 button became available for any and all website publishers today and it’s a social initiative with a uniquely Google twist. Web travelers will be able to click the +1 button on any web page or ad they want to recommend (just generally recommend!) and then that page will be privileged in relevant searches performed by their Google account contacts. Searches on YouTube will show +1 results from Google contacts as well.
Is this compelling for website owners? Yes, probably. For web users who would click the button? That’s much less clear. For search users? Time will tell, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.
The single best argument for the +1 button is simply this: when I see a friend’s face pop up under a Google search, I’m about 1000% more likely to click it than another, because a couple months’ worth of experience has already shown those links are FAR more accurate. The simple truth is when I click a socially recommended page, 99% of the time I arrive at a page that I was looking for, and that beats Google’s recent success rate by a good 40%.
The biggest problem I see for Google, is that there’s no way to “go backwards” and hit the +1 button AFTER you’ve visited the page (without manually reloading/navigating). This seems like a pretty major oversight to me; who would recommend a page directly from the Search Results summary, without visitng it first? The initial rollout of the +1 button encouraged you to do exactly that.
I think the best solution would have been for them to use a Summify-style “masking” bar at the top of the page, to allow people to give feedback about a page they’re currently viewing, via a link presented in-line with the rest of the content.
Google is being hit with a “Right To Forget” lawsuit in Spain as the country’s Data Protection Agency has ordered the Web giant to take down search links on 90 people. According to The Associated Press, Google is fighting five of those lawsuits in Spain’s National Court and in January refused Spain’s request on all 90 of the claims.
In the EU law, individuals would have to opt-in for companies to use their data. That could mean companies like Google could not use their information in search results unless permission is expressly given. The United States has introduced legislation recently that would follow the EU lead in privacy such as the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in CyberSpace and the Commercial Data Bill Of Rights.
Very interesting debate. Both sides make very strong arguments. Maybe this is the kind of thing best left to each nation to decide, but does that really work in this day and age? Would Google be held responsible for sites that scrape content and repurpose it? I wonder how on earth they’d go about implementing this effectively.
The company bested millions of sites — and not just in searches for dresses, bedding and area rugs. For months, it was consistently at or near the top in searches for “skinny jeans,” “home decor,” “comforter sets,” “furniture” and dozens of other words and phrases, from the blandly generic (“tablecloths”) to the strangely specific (“grommet top curtains”).
This striking performance lasted for months, most crucially through the holiday season, when there is a huge spike in online shopping. J. C. Penney even beat out the sites of manufacturers in searches for the products of those manufacturers. Type in “Samsonite carry on luggage,” for instance, and Penney for months was first on the list, ahead of Samsonite.com.
With more than 1,100 stores and $17.8 billion in total revenue in 2010, Penney is certainly a major player in American retailing. But Google’s stated goal is to sift through every corner of the Internet and find the most important, relevant Web sites.
Does the collective wisdom of the Web really say that Penney has the most essential site when it comes to dresses? And bedding? And area rugs? And dozens of other words and phrases?
The New York Times asked an expert in online search, Doug Pierce of Blue Fountain Media in New York, to study this question, as well as Penney’s astoundingly strong search-term performance in recent months. What he found suggests that the digital age’s most mundane act, the Google search, often represents layer upon layer of intrigue. And the intrigue starts in the sprawling, subterranean world of “black hat” optimization, the dark art of raising the profile of a Web site with methods that Google considers tantamount to cheating.
This is a fantastic story, a modern day tale of intrigue and Machiavellian political influence, questioning the Google SEO sausage factory. Even better, the article reminds us every day, that the NYT proves journalism is alive and kicking in 2011.