The Search That’s Better Than Search?

    October 25, 2005

Every so often, it dawns on you that the whole Internet environment has traveled too far from that quiet, information-oriented era that got you so interested in the medium in the first place.

Attendees at my Nielsen Norman User Experience seminar in Boston on Sunday (including a number of “old hands” in Internet years, many of them web developers) expressed sentiments that (in spite of me showing slides outlining the obvious dominance of the leading SE’s) seemed to say “I try to find search sites where it’s uncluttered and quiet, away from the crowd.” The cluttered look of SERP’s with 10 ads on them (3 of those on top), among other things, was cited as a reason why a small core of power users will seek more low-key venues.

But it isn’t just ad clutter, is it? On some of your favorite search queries, you’ve probably been disappointed by the general indexes.

For example, look at the regular search results for this new-product query in the automotive world. You see the usual ads and the usual list of “car info portals.”

But for vibrant, current commentary, you want to know what’s going on in the blogosphere, and in the news. At first, when I found it difficult to get the right info from a search of the Google index, I started doing the same query in Google News. Then they released Google blog search, and it was something else! A new way to look at the world, and also, for now anyway, a weird flashback to the days when no ads were shown next to SERP’s on Google.

Yahoo’s new “blogs and news” search is another totally useful entry into this realm. Notice how much better the info is in this search for the same car query as above, if you were a certain kind of searcher who is looking for recent articles and buzz, rather than the “same old same old” canned information on the usual car portal sites. It does look like Google blog search is a bit better on this query, though.

One thing is for sure: when it comes to the latest automotive technology, it’s a very cheap thrill to read about it. The problem starts when you act on it. :)

Andrew Goodman is Principal of Page Zero Media, a marketing consultancy which focuses on maximizing clients’ paid search marketing campaigns.

In 1999 Andrew co-founded, an acclaimed “guide to portals” which foresaw the rise of trends such as paid search and semantic analysis.