Lipstick on the Google Blogsearch Face

 
Google Blogsearch Has A New Face

Matt Cutts signals that Google Blogsearch now has a new home page.

More and more people are spending free time (and work time) online and lots of those people want to discover interesting things on the web. Google Blogsearch’s new home page applies that insight with a browsable version of what’s going on in the blogosphere. The UI design is a little reminiscent of Google News, but the new Blogsearch home page uses a lot of different code.

It’s great to see this new home page go live, because I’ve watched as the blogsearch team in New York pulled this together. Some people will compare it to Techmeme, but the sites are quite different.

The official Google Blog gives more details.

The home page tries to show what is of current interest and most of them today seem to be about Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate. That is because the TV debate between her and Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, takes place this evening. Despite that, I too think this Blogsearch Home Page is a move in the right direction. Nevertheless I almost inevitably thought about Palin’s remark about lipstick on a pit bull.

Behind the scenes, the Blogsearch algorithm still seems to have its problems. A search for payday loan still has 4 results in the top ten that are Blogspot ‘nonsense’ blogs. Why the algorithm would think these collections of random words are relevant to a searcher’s interests is difficult to understand. It should be easier to correct the algorithm than it appears to be.

However perhaps Google is approaching it from a different direction. Search Engine Roundtable notes that Google AdSense Login Goes Down For Many Publishers. If these were all Blogspot blogs with made-for-AdSense posts consisting of random words then hopefully this will gradually eliminate them.

For another view on the ‘new’ Blogsearch see what Fred Wilson, A VC, has to say in Hacker News, Techmeme, and Google Blog Search. Mathew Ingram isn’t too impressed either.

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Blogs Take Center Stage For Marketers And For Google

 
Blogs Move Into The Spotlight

Brian Solis has just published The Definitive Guide to Social Media Releases. It would appear that Social Media Releases are what Press Releases have morphed into in this new multimedia interconnected world. One quote brings out a key part of his message.

So again, we ask, what makes a Social Media Release Social?

Well, at the end of the day, if you’ve ever written a blog post, much of what I’m describing already exists. There’s nothing to say that you couldn’t do this right now simply by creating a customized blog that is an extension of your company’s online newsroom.

This marketer’s realization that blogs provide a powerful mechanism for communicating with the marketplace comes at an auspicious time. It would seem that Google also now strongly believes that blog posts often provide the most relevant information in keyword searches.

The speed at which Google is latching on to blog posts has been commented on very recently by a number of Internet marketing commentators, such as Search Engine Journal (Julie Kent), WebProNews (Doug Caverly) and Search Engine Roundtable (Tamar Weinberg). However a comment by Michael Martinez on the last item questions whether this is really new.

Indeed it is not new. It is just the latest step in a process that Marissa Mayer announced in May 2007 with a post on Universal search: The best answer is still the best answer. Universal search would provide the most relevant answers to keyword searches from all the search processes that Google did.

It has not been smooth and continuous improvement from that point onwards. Prior to that, Google had been indexing blog posts extremely well based on their RSS news feeds. It was rapid and it was relevant. Results could be accessed by using Google Blogsearch. By October inexplicably the results became somewhat chaotic, as we discussed in the Cre8asite Forums. By the end of November, curiouser and curiouser, blog posts were indexed better in the regular Web search than they were in the Blogsearch.

Since then the visibility of blog posts in the regular Web search has been even stronger. You can still find the Google Blogsearch if you look for it, but it clearly has lost star billing. The main choices on the regular Web search program are as follows:

Web Images Maps News Shopping Gmail more v
Video
Groups
Books
Scholar
Finance
Blogs

YouTube
Calendar
Photos
Documents
Reader

If you click on that ‘more’ then you will see the menu shown on the right. It’s probably only a matter of time before the option to search Blogs disappears entirely. However Google has always been notoriously slow at firing processes that are no longer seen as useful.

So the message is clear. Blog posts are just regular web pages like those to be found in any website. Indeed given Google’s fixation on inlinks (or back links as they somewhat confusingly describe them), it is not surprising that blog posts tend to be more visible than regular web pages.

Once the marketers really smell the coffee, we can expect to see many more Social Media Releases coming out as blogs.

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Google BlogSearch Is Broken

Lisa Barone writing in the Bruce Clay Blog was kind enough to mention a thread I started over at the Cre8asite Forums suggesting that the Ask.com Blog Search was filling a Google vacuum. She asked, “Who Has the Better Blog Search: Google or Ask?” Her answer ran as follows:

Personally, I think both blog searches need some work. If I had to commit myself to using one and only one, I’d probably go with Ask, but I’m not exactly jumping up and down on the couch over how fabulous they are.
..
Google is top dog when it comes to indexing speed but their index is chock full of spam. Ask takes a little longer to get things appearing in the index, but when the content is there, it’s relevant and better and smelling like roses.

She apparently still uses both. I used to be one of the strongest proponents for Google Blogsearch. However for some time I have been despairing of its quality. As she said it’s ‘chock full of spam’. In addition whatever algorithm it is using does not produce relevant blog posts for the searches I do.

It is not difficult to produce examples to show how broken it is. I wrote a blog post three days ago where relevant keywords were Customer Service, Bell, Rogers, Telus. Given the frustration that many feel over customer service from the telecoms, it’s a topic that is often discussed on the blogosphere. As of today, the Ask Blog Search has the blog post at #1 for that keyword search. Even IceRocket, another blogsearch engine that sometimes works at glacial speed, has the post at #3.

The surprise is that Google Blogsearch does not include the post in the top 100. That top 100 includes quite a slug of the spam posts that Lisa referred to. However the blog itself for a regular Google keyword Web search appears at #20 for these key words. Google has been boasting that it now includes blogs within the regular web search. That’s an improvement. Yet at the same time such posts no longer appear in the Google Blogsearch. That’s not at all logical.

I am not the only one to suggest that Google Blogsearch is broken. Philipp Lenssen raised this although for different reasons. It’s beginning to look as though it’s dropped off the Google corporate radar. That’s a pity. It used to be so impressive.

Related:
Google BlogSearch for Hot News Items
Google BlogSearch, The Neglected Orphan
Google Blog Search Doesn’t Find Many Links
How can I help you? Is that Bell, Rogers or Telus?

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Google BlogSearch, The Neglected Orphan

For another blog post I was writing, I checked out a possible title in Google BlogSearch as I often do. The proposed title was Microsoft Matches Google In Voice Mobile Search. What struck me were the following items, which appeared at positions 8, 9 and 10 in the report.

blogsearch071019.png

Items 11 and 12 were very similar to these three. How could Google, which prides itself on its search algorithms, possibly present results that were clearly meaningless. To add insult to injury, these items were created with the free Blogger blogging software offered by Google since they all are located on the Blogspot domain.

This is not the first time I have seen such nonsense items in BlogSearch searches. Given their pharmaceutical content, they are clearly an attempt to derive revenues from Google Adsense and serve no other purpose. You might have thought it would not be difficult to work on the Google BlogSearch algorithm to avoid these definitely sub par results.

So why does it happen? Perhaps since BlogSearch does not produce revenues, it does not get corporate attention. It doesn’t even make it to the main Search page. You have to click on More before you’ll see the link. That’s a great pity. RSS news feeds are an important part of the online world and it would be useful to have a search facility that performs well. It’s also surprising that Google leaves such a sign of inferior quality for all to see.

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