Human-Powered Search

The New York Times writes:

Last month, another company, Mahalo (Hawaiian for thank you), inaugurated a search service with manually edited results. It started with several advantages: venture capital backing, 30 editors, systematic focus on the most commonly requested search terms, and the added idea of supplying Googles search results for any search not covered by its own best-of-the-best lists.

Mahalo now has pre-prepared pages for 5,000 terms related to entertainment, travel, health, technology and other subject areas. The company plans to expand its coverage to 10,000 terms by year-end, and eventually to provide results for one-third of the most common search terms.

A hand-built Mahalo search-results page has one conspicuous advantage over Googles: grouping into subthemes, which make a page of links much easier to scan and to find items of particular interest.

Google News and Techmeme

Read/Write Web discusses what the two sites could learn from each other. “It should probably be noted that Google News and Techmeme have very different aims. Google News aggregates news from across a broad spectrum of categories, mostly from mainstream sources. Techmeme, on the other hand, highlights buzzworthy news from a focused niche (technology), mostly from blogs. But they are very similar beasts. They both aggregate news very well and algorithmically decide what are the top breaking stories of the day.”

Discovery as Anti-Search

David Berkowitz writes:

If some visions for the future of search are realized, then we’ll be surfing a Web where search doesn’t matter. The emphasis will instead shift to discovery.

Through discovery, when you read your favorite newspaper online, you’re presented with a wealth of links from around the Web that should be of interest to you, including other articles, related books or products, or video clips, whether or not you’d expect them to be directly relevant. does this regularly, such as when it told me that customers who bought the Black & Decker 3.4 PS550B Handsaw also bought a 5-pound bag of Haribo Gummi Bears and the movie “Borat.” It’s through the power of discovery that a site like Home Depot could suggest, “After busting your butt with this handsaw, why don’t you unwind with five pounds of Gummi Bears and a satire about a Kazakh journalist touring America?”

The better discovery gets, the less search should matter, at least in theory.

Search Market Analysis

Don Dodge concludes that 1% of the search market share is worth over $1 Billion.

Each 1% of search market share is worth over $100M in revenues – Here is the math. There were 7.3 billion searches performed in March of 2007. One percent of that is 73 million searches times $0.12 revenue per search or $8.76M per month. That translates to $105.1M in annualized revenue.

The stock market values 1% market share at over $1 Billion.

Internet Advertising

WSJ has a commentary by James Stewart about Google: “It’s becoming apparent that Internet advertising, in its myriad permutations, isn’t just a new variation on traditional advertising. The ability of online advertisers to place information in highly targeted contexts in which users can click through to further information and even make purchases seems so revolutionary that it can hardly be called advertising at all. It may well be that the frequency of ad usage will generate the same data-intensive refinements that exist in the search field, yielding similar economies of scale — and a natural monopoly.”

Google’s ARPU is $1

Read/Write Web writes: “Google makes $1 per internet user. But not all of the revenues come from Google Search – they control only 50% of the search market, but the whole web is organically getting covered by Google ads via AdSense and AdWords. Therefore, even if you perform your searches from Yahoo or Live, you may end up being directed to a long tail web page powered by Google AdSense. Another way to look at it – if you use Google as your favourite search engine, you may be giving them $2 per month. But even if you you use a different search engine, you may still give ~$0.5 via Adsense and the Long Tail.”

Cringely on Google Universal Search

Robert Cringely writes:

Universal Search is Google’s attempt to destroy its major competitors who, like Gorbachev in the waning years of the USSR, have to follow suit and start spending money they don’t have if they want to even appear to still be in competition with Google. This means for these companies more software development, more sweeps of the web, as well as the greater likelihood that among their top results will be pages located at Google properties like YouTube.

It has to burn Yahoo, MSN and the others to now have to drive traffic to YouTube, but that’s what will happen if these search competitors choose to continue to compete head-to-head, which they will.

There is literally no downside for Google in this strategy.

Google Universal Search

Danny Sullivan has a backgrounder. “Google is undertaking the most radical change to its search results ever, introducing a “Universal Search” system that will blend listings from its news, video, images, local and book search engines among those it gathers from crawling web pages…The move potentially should be a huge boon for searchers, while search marketers who have paid attention to the importance of specialized or vertical search will see new opportunities.”

The Future of Search

Matthew Hurst writes about an event at UC, Berkeley.

Currently, the main stream search engines are doing a poor job of integrating social media in their results. Conversely, blog search engines take no advantage of the main stream web to analyse the influence and content of blogs. Social media may be thought of as an annotation stream on the main stream web. This model suggests some interesting ways to get leverage out of the differences between these two areas of the web. Main stream web can be used to rank social media content, and social media (blog) content could be used to rank the main stream web.

Mobile Search has a report on the London mobile search conference:

The paradigm in mobile search is not about links its about actionable and relevant answers…Another reason mobile search fails to meet high expectations is a disconnect between what advertisers want (namely reach and revenues) and what mobile search can currently offer (namely, neither). The jury was out on how to solve this one but there was a general consensus that building inventory (and thus interest among advertisers) is paramount.