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AOL Employees Don’t Use AOL Search

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AOL has been consistently 4th place in terms of search share, and Jason Calacanis thinks he knows why – because AOL sucks to search with. Calacanis, who joined AOL after the company bought his blog network, Weblogs Inc., slammed his parent company’s woeful search presentation on his weblog.

In response to criticism that he was too glowing about AOL’s products, Calacanis decided to up his street cred by pointing out where the company could improve.

“The way I look at it, the first step to sucking less is knowing you suck,” he commented on Jim Kukral’s ReveNews blog.

Besides AIM Triton’s sluggishness, Calacanis believes that AOL should work on its “screen real estate,” noting that to get to the Google-powered organic search results, the user has to scroll past an onslaught of promotional and sponsored links. The organic listings are nearly off the page.

The search result presentation is so “very, very bad,” according to Calacanis, that even AOL employees don’t use AOL search.

When I ask folks inside our company what search engine they use they say “Google.” I ask them why, the most common response is “because it’s cleaner.” Sometime folks says it’s faster, but I don’t think that’s the case or the reason. We basically all know that our search is filled with too many ads and too much collateral, yet we haven’t done anything about it for months.


Calacanis goes on with a screenshot comparison of search results from Google, MSN, Yahoo! and AOL. The comparison shows that AOL organic results are over twice as far (300 pixels farther) down the page than Google’s results.

First, we are pushing the search results over 198 pixels to the right so we can have a navigation box that no one really uses. Then we have our “Snapshot” module which features links to iTunes, Apple, a canned news search, and a link to our shopping section–not much value there. Next up is Sponsored Links, and we’re running three to Google’s two. After all that–538 pixels down the page–you get the first organic result.


Calacanis concludes that AOL’s 4th place position is due to the engine’s “less generous” use of search real estate.

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AOL Employees Don’t Use AOL Search
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