Conversational search when travelling

Use Google app on your smart phone or tablet to find restaurants and bars nearby. Great for dinner reservations.  Works in Toronto. Just say – show restaurants near my home – and presto, Google gives map, names, and addresses.

Google Upgrades Conversational Search On Its Mobile Apps, Matt McGee, Search Engine Land (Oct 9)

Basically, the app is smarter about knowing where you are (at a hotel, for example), letting you complete actions by voice (i.e., making reservations via OpenTable), getting directions as part of the ongoing conversation you’re having with the app and getting reminders.

Getting away from ads

Google tools are easy to use and very effective, but collect a lot of information about us. How much should we reveal about ourselves? This article has alternatives: DuckDuckGo for search, Firefox rather than Chrome for browsing, Zoho docs instead of Google docs, and Fastmail instead of Gmail – if you have to use a webmail service.

How to ditch Google for more privacy and fewer ads, Derek Walter, PCWorld (Sept 9)

If you’ve decided that keeping all your eggs in one online basket is unwise, there are viable alternatives. Some are arguably not as full-featured as what Google has. But using your email without ads or knowing that performing a web search won’t result in a ton of related advertisements may be enough to encourage you to go on a Google-free diet.

Google Authorship vs Author Rank

Google Authorship always seemed arcane to me. Danny Sullivan describes it as “Google’s way to allow the authors of content to identify themselves for display purposes” and it was done through markup code. Well – no more – but Google is keeping “Author Rank”

Google Authorship and Author Rank aren’t the same thing. Here’s why Google Authorship can die yet Author Rank lives on., Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land (AUg 29)

How can all this be, when Google has also said that it’s ignoring authorship markup?

The answer is that Google has other ways to determine who it believes to be the author of a story, if it wants. In particular, Google is likely to look for visible bylines that often appear on news stories. These existed before Google Authorship, and they aren’t going away.

Google’s Knowledge Vault

Google’s Knowledge Graph excels at displaying structured information on entities. Google is developing the next generation of this called Knowledge Vault.

Google “Knowledge Vault” To Power Future Of Search by Greg Sterling, Search Engine Land (Aug 25)

Sensationally characterized as “the largest store of knowledge in human history,” Knowledge Vault is being assembled from content across the internet without human editorial involvement. “Knowledge Vault autonomously gathers and merges information from across the web into a single base of facts about the world, and the people and objects in it,” says New Scientist.

Google Search Improvement

Google makes many changes every year to search – some we are barely aware of, some we don’t like at all, some that are loved instantly. This past year, according to Google’s  head of search Amit Singhal, Google made 890 “improvements”.

Google Made 890 Improvements To Search Over The Past Year, Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land (Aug 19)

He doesn’t say what they were but does list highlights in last 10 years (which is a very long time). Of his ten, I think the most valuable were:

  • Autocomplete – stroke of genius – see the variation and choose one that best suits our intent.
  • Voice search – I love this on my iPad.
  • Knowledge Graph – information nuggets frequently have the answer, or at least a good overview.

Google features

Google features come and go – almost always without explanation.

Jon Wiley, a search designer at Google, spoke briefly about this – mostly it is to avoid bloatware. Removing features, he said, “is one of the toughest but most important parts of designing products – deciding what to trim as you move forward”

Google Search Designer Explains Why Some Features & Tools Get Axed, Search Engine Land (Jul 28)

And – Google may have added a new timeline to the Knowledge Graph.

Google Testing Timeline View In Knowledge Graph, Search Engine Land (Jul 28)

“Google is testing a new knowledge graph interface for showing a timeline of data, facts and knowledge in the top carousel section of the Google search results.”

Dan Russell Lecture

Google search guru Daniel Russell spoke on the The Revolution in Asking and Answering Questions in this video – showing how new search capabilities empower us to ask new questions and get “deep answers”. Video lecture has many good examples from Google search. Closes with demo of conversational style for question and answer.

The Revolution in Asking and Answering Questions, Search Research (May 13, 2014)