Does Google favour its own services?

Google has been accused again of promoting its own services over others in search results. The latest study was sponsored by Yelp which has complained about this before.

Study Claims Google Is Delivering “Degraded” Search Results, Adding Steam To EU Antitrust Case, Search Engine Land (Jun 29)

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, researchers from Columbia University and Harvard Business School claim Google is delivering a “degraded version of its search engine,” outranking its own services over more relevant results for local searches on restaurants and hotels.

Problems with Google Answers

Google’s expanded use of answers at the top of search results has some problems.  As always, the searcher has to know enough to vet the results received from a search engine.

When Google Gets It Wrong: Direct Answers With Debatable, Incorrect & Weird Content, Search Engine Land (June 17)

The addition of more direct answer content is fraught with problems as Google’s algorithms attempt to find answers to tricky queries. With no human review process in place for the results, the opportunity grows for debatable, incorrect and sometimes completely inappropriate content showing up as a top search result.

Google gives preference to mobile-friendly

ResearchBuzz picks up the darnedest items — What Google’s Algorithm Change Means for Library Websites (Public Libraries Online, June 9) —

“On April 21, Google changed its algorithm to give preference to mobile-friendly sites on searches performed on mobile devices. This means that sites that aren’t designated as “mobile-friendly” by Google sink to the bottom in mobile search results while sites that do pass the test appear toward the top.”

Article advises libraries on what to do to make their websites more mobile-friendly.

Of interest – “WordPress, for example, offers WPtouch, a plug-in that automatically enables a mobile theme for visitors reaching you by way of their phones”

Changes with Google Cache

Google Operating System describes the New Interface for Google Cache (June 19).

Cache holds the page as Google indexed it.  Viewing it  can often help when a link goes dead or there are very recent changes.  Click on the down arrow beside the link in the search result and select “Cached”.

Google lets you switch between:

* the “full version”, which is displayed by default
* the “text-only version”, which doesn’t load images, scripts and other resources
* the page source – a new feature that shows the source code of the HTML page.

Censoring Google Results

Google has been censoring search results (when asked or required) on its country versions of the search engine – not globally. Thus, if blocked in Google.ca, a searcher could find the item in any other Google version. But, as these two articles from Danny Sullivan show, countries are onto this trick – and in Canada a judge in British Columbia has ordered Google to remove ALL links to Datalinks Technologies Gateways, a company found guilty of trademark infringement. What will this mean for search?

Canadian Appeals Court Orders Google To Censor Globally, Search Engine Land (Jun 12)

How The Myth Of Google Censorship Was Busted By The EU & Canada Marketing Land (Jun 12)

It won’t be easy. As Danny Sullivan points out, Google has been making it more difficult for searchers to break out of the country version. The next step might be that Google adopts IP-based censorship. But what a complex web that could create – while still not satisfying such court cases as the Canadian one and pressures by France that Google apply “right to be forgotten” globally.

Yahoo drops products

Yahoo announced changes in product offerings while stating that “we continue to focus on our key product pillars: search, communications and digital content”.

Q2 2015 Progress Report On Our Product Prioritization, Yahoo Tumblr (Jun 4 )

  • closing Yahoo Maps site;
  • shutting down some regional properties – Canada loses Yahoo Music, Yahoo TV
  • ending Yahoo Pipes used by developers for mashing together data

Bing’s future

Front page, lead story in the Seattle Times – Bing no longer a search-engine blip, Matt Day (May 22). Microsoft claims that one in five searches in the U.S. on desktop computers is done through Bing. Actually, Bing has been gaining from Yahoo – and Yahoo had been using the Bing database. Also – many challenges remain. Bing has yet to break even, or make any inroad on mobile devices.

Of greatest interest: “Microsoft has integrated Bing’s underlying data-crunching technology into its other software, and plans to tie it closely to its upcoming Windows 10 operating system.”