SES New York: Will Google Sell Itself Out?

Universal Search panel becomes heated

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John Battelle, who literally wrote the book on Search, believes Google’s apparent media-company aspirations will one day come in conflict with its purist algorithmic history.

Mike McDonald and the WebProNews Video crew are in New York for the Search Engine Strategies Conference. Stay tuned all week for the latest developments in online marketing.


John Battelle, Battelle MediaJohn Battelle, Battelle Media
(Credit: Wikipedia)

Battelle was on the "Orion Panel," focusing on Universal Search, alongside James Lamberti, senior vice president of Search and Media for comScore, Lyndsay Menzies, managing director for Big Mouth Media, and Jack Menzel, project manager for Google’s Universal Search. The session was moderated by Search Engine Watch’s Kevin Ryan.


The discussion began by centering on Universal Search statistics and branding concepts. Lamberti reported that in comScore’s most recent look at search, 87 million people (assumedly US) had searched in a week, and 58 percent of them received some sort of Universal Search result. The conclusion presented then, was that as search real estate becomes more valuable, organic SEO focus, especially with image and video, will be critical, especially as click rates go up.

The conversation turned, though, when Battelle challenged Menzel on the top-result presence of Google properties like YouTube and Google Finance. The now old-school algorithmically determined search results were easy for machines to process, he argued, but now that other types of media like images and video are more commonplace, Google has to look to other methods.

"When you have images and video," he said, "you are changing the game in a really big way….That’s why Google bought You Tube, and is focusing on You Tube."

Menzel countered that YouTube videos appear so often in the search results because YouTube contains so much video content. He denied Google was changing its model.

Battelle also noted that results from Google Finance appear for stock queries above Yahoo Finance, which used to be at the top. Menzel noted that other non-Google properties are linked to as well.

Battelle doubted, though, that Google would maintain its algorithmic objectivity forever. He cited a panel discussion he participated in alongside actor and comedian Damon Wayans, who detailed a YouTube partnership for his online video site WayOutTV. Battelle quoted Wayans as saying he was guaranteed 16 million impressions on his homepage.

"Does that guarantee Google results? I’m curious because they give him guaranteed attention and anyone who has been in the industry for a long time knows about such deals. I worry about how that might get into the search stream."

Menzel reiterated that Google was fair, relevant, and unbiased in its search results.

Battelle seemed unconvinced and pushed for an admission that Google was becoming a media company and more like Yahoo. But with all the media properties Google now owns, it was hard for Battelle to believe there wouldn’t at some point be a conflict between the need to promote Google properties and the need to remain true to its algorithmic objectivity.

Menzel stayed on point, though. "Let me reiterate. We are trying to rank only the most relevant stuff and if it happens to be on You Tube it will be on the list. There is nothing in the algorithms that are inherently biasing the results to Google."

SES New York: Will Google Sell Itself Out?
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  • Guest

    Batelle is on to something. Diversity of results Cutts says is the future of google. Diversity of media type is what he is referring to not necessarily diversity of media types across a diverse set of sites. I am sure they will try to mask it as much as possible. Watch the top search terms and track the percentage of google properties returned over time and I bet you can see a trend. Is 30% of top results too greedy or too noticable? how about 50%. I can hear the whispers in the gooplex now.  :)

  • http://allsubmitter.awardspace.com/ AllSubmitter

    Watch GOOG at finance.google.com

    the goes way down and up.

    • Guest

      what does this comment mean? and relevance? How about this one…Search Google see different results for different keywords.

  • http://www.portalmaonaroda.com.br fornecedor clientes

    I don

  • http://songwritingtips.org/ How to Write a Song

    Why should Google sell itself out.?

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