The BlogSearch Dilemma

In a week where most of the search world’s eyes were on the precipitate departure of Danny Sullivan from Incisive Media, attention was diverted from a somewhat surprising happening at Yahoo!. Among others, Loren Baker and Liana “Li” Evans wrote about it. The Yahoo! News Search dropped the small window to the right that featured some relevant blog posts on the News keyword search. Steve Rubel in his Micropersuasion was one of the early reporters on this and he surmised that a new integrated feed reader/search engine was on the way.

That may well be true, although it’s surprising that the old was not kept running until the new, shiny offering could be revealed. For myself, I am guessing that it may all stem from the same dilemma that Google has about blogs and blog searches. The dilemma arises from the interaction of current search engine algorithms, particularly for Google, with the highly visible nature of blogs versus traditional websites. Blogs are highly visible given their structure with many post pages and interlinks.

The other factor in the visibility of blogs is their associated news feeds and the ability to ‘ping’ news feed aggregators. Almost the hour they’re published they can be found. Many of them have a short shelf life in a sense, since they comment on current events and will soon lose any value. So there’s the dilemma. Should the population of blog posts be considered on the same basis as the population of traditional web pages? It seems unreasonable that they should be valued more highly even though they may be more visible. On the other hand should they be valued less?

Google in the summer of 2005 brought out Google Blogsearch. This searches the universe of RSS and Atom news feeds to identify blog posts that may be relevant to the keyword search. Surprisingly it remains buried as a Beta program within Google Labs and rarely seems to be publicized. Although the traditional Google search is visible within Google Blogsearch, the reverse is not true.

If Yahoo! does bring out a Blog Search process, this may force Google to come out of the woods on this. It is clear that both Google and Yahoo! must take a position on blogs and their relationship to the population of traditional web pages. The way in which each of them does this will be very instructive, particularly if they handle it in different ways. Given the strong growth of the blogging movement, their decisions can not be too long delayed.

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Tags: blogsearch