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February 2007 Archives

February 8, 2007

3 Ranking Survival Tips For Google’s New Personalized Results

The effects were subtle. The average person searching on Google probably didn’t notice.
For most, the results of last Friday’s rollout of the long-tested, debated and awaited personalized search results
for the masses was an entirely unremarkable event.

For the search marketing industry, it was cataclysmic.

In short, it’s a game changer. Those who adapt quickly or are already ahead of the curve will thrive in the new environment. Those too slow or in denial will perish.

“One page fits all” is now a thing of the past.

Personalized search is now the default and none too easy to escape from either
through opt-out. This means that every search result you click, every link you bookmark, every
RSS feed you subscribe to using Google services can be used to improve your personal search results.

For most, this should be very welcome, as it promises a far better search experience that will adapt to your interests and evolve over time. For
search marketers, it means new skills and techniques are needed to achieve search visibility.

The following three survival tips come with two caveats:

Click to continue reading…

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Grammy Check with Ask Smart Answers

One hundred and eight. That’s how many categories the Grammy
Awards
honors. And if you’re keeping track of it all, you either work for
The
Recording Academy
or have a lot of free time on your hands. Fortunately,
Ask.com Smart Answers make it easy for the rest of us.

Artist Smart Answers

Want info on a Grammy-nominated artist you’ve never heard of? Type
his or her name into Ask.com
. You’ll get a bio, links to discographies,
credits, ringtones and more.

Album Smart Answers

Want details on one of the Album nominees? Just
type in the album title
. If it’s rock, blues, pop, rap, electronica, dance,
country, or R&B, you’ll get the album artwork and the a review of the record.
You’ll find reggae, gospel, comedy and bluegrass albums as well.

Search tip: if you don’t get the album info on the first try, add
the artist’s name to your query
.

News Images

If you’re more the visual type, type
“grammy” into Ask.com Image Search
. You’ll get the latest news
images associated with the awards.

Ask.com makes expanding your musical vocabulary easy. No need to thank us–it’s
all part of the service.

–The Ask.com Smart Answers Team

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February 9, 2007

The Real “Big Winners” of Super Bowl XLI

So, I was one of the 90+ million viewers who tuned into Super Bowl XLI last weekend, and like a lot of folks I was curious to see the latest batch of multi-million dollar commercials, partly for the sheer flash and glam of it all, but mostly because our extended Yahoo! team here played a part in bringing the first “user-generated” commercials to the Super Bowl.

The commercials were for Doritos and were actually two of five final contest entries that our very own Jumpcut community created and voted on last fall.

You might remember a while back when we found ourselves enamored with this whole “remix” culture. The prospect of finding and using “stuff” on the web to create new multimedia that can further enrich the Web as a repository of knowledge is like our FUSE motto flourishing once again. You find stuff, you use it. You share it, and you expand the world’s database of knowledge with your own contribution.

Check ‘em out:

It’s always interesting to see how our platforms enable the makers of the world, giving them the tools to create meaningful experiences on the web. In this case, we were particularly thrilled to watch (along with millions of other people) members of our community earn a level of recognition and respect for their unique achievement.

Our congrats to Dale Backus and Kristin Dehnert for their creations!

Take a look at the rest of the videos here.

Mitali Pattnaik
Yahoo! Video

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Google’s Agent Rank Patent Application

Google returns results based upon content appearing upon individual pages, or at specific URLs. But that content could come from different authors, who have different levels of control over it. For example, a blog page may have posts written by more than one author, comments penned by others, and advertisements showing ads that even the owner of the site has no direct control over. A forum might have many different authors responding to an initial post, and may also display advertisements.

Imagine a system that instead of ranking content on a page level, breaks those pages down and looks at smaller content items on those pages, which it associates with digital signatures. Content creators could be given reputation scores, which could influence the rankings of pages where their content appears, or which they own, edit, or endorse.

That’s a broad overview of a new patent application from Google…

Click to continue reading…

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February 12, 2007

Love at First Site: Valentine’s Day Smart Answers

Normally, with a national
holiday
coming up, we talk up our Smart Answers as the ideal way to help
you prepare for it. But this year, we think a picture (or in this case a few
screen shots) can say it all:

Have a great Valentine’s Day!

–The Ask.com Smart Answers Team

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February 13, 2007

Sproose – A Social Search Engine

Sproose is another social search engine where you get to vote for your favourite websites/pages, and to that extent it’s very similar to previous social search engines that I’ve looked at recently. It’s got the double ‘o’ in the name which always helps, and uses terminology that sounds familiar, such as ‘Knowledge Rank technology’. However, to entirely dismiss it quickly would be something of an injustice, since a lot of work has gone into it.

It’s a reasonable search engine, returning over 325 million results for ‘internet’ and results are displayed in a fully recognisable style, though they have a few extra icons at the bottom of each, allowing registered users to add tags, create discussions around specific pages, and registered users can create their own bookmarks as well. Finally, users of the search engine can vote for favourite sites and remove others from their results.

The advanced search options were not strong though, limited to ‘all’, ‘phrase’, ‘exclude’ and ‘domain’, and I wasn’t too keen on their use of in context advertising which underlined particular words on the page; I found it intrusive and irritating. However, it makes a change to adverts down the right hand side of the screen I suppose.

Sproose isn’t limited to webpages, since it provides search options for Current News, Video, Popular Tags (that is to say, if a user tags a page it shows up when you click on the appropriate term in the tag cloud), and finally options for ‘My Sproose’. The latter includes a message centre, bookmarks, blog, profile and vote history, allowing users to keep in contact with friends and colleagues. It’s a nice idea for sure, but I couldn’t immediately see any way of seeing other users, and since the help options were poor I was left a little bit lost at this point.

Overall, Sproose is well laid out, there’s thought behind it and it’s certainly deserving of the ‘social search engine’ tag.

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You Hum It, I’ll Sing It

Recently a couple of search engines have come to my attention that are designed to allow you to hum a few bars of a tune into them, and then they’ll tell you what the song is. These are Midomi and Humming Search from Nayio.

The concept is straightfoward; you allow the search engine(s) access to your microphone (either by dialogue box with Midomi or downloading a piece of software with Humming Search), and then you hum your tune. With Midomi you can hum for as long as you like, with Humming Search it’s a 15 second count down. The search engine then compares your humming to its database and provides you with a selection of possible matches. At least, that’s the theory of the thing.

Of course, the first problem is, ‘what exactly is a hum?’ Is it actually ‘hmmm hmmm hmmm’, or does it include ‘De da de deee dadada da’ as well? Is singing allowed? For someone who likes to know about search syntax, Boolean operators and so on, these are very important questions. Anyway, onto the searching. I hummed. I sang. I dah dah’d until I was blue in the face. I even got various songs from my collection, played them and put the microphone next to the speakers. In the end I even said ‘This song is…’ and named the piece(s) I was attempting to hum.

All to no avail. Humming Search would listen intently, go off and search and then – nothing. Not a suggestion, not an idea, not even an error message. Perhaps it just didn’t like my voice, or perhaps I wasn’t humming to the right pitch – the oral equivalent of getting my syntax wrong maybe? After warbling for 10 minutes or so I gave up in defeat. Clearly I am not destined for greatness in the field of musical entertainment.

Midomi was much more successful if you count getting results back as success. However, in that case I’d have to say that a search engine was successful if it gave me results about civil engineering when I’d run a search on cat breeding. True, I hummed and it listened. Then it gave me results, but they were not even close to my strangled renditions of various classics or popular hits. Eventually I realised that I had to admit defeat when my wife came into my study and said with a note of irritation ‘What IS that noise?’ To be fair, what response can one give? ‘I’m singing to my computer’ doesn’t sound too great. ‘I’m playing ‘what’s that tune’ with a search engine’ is little better. I did try ‘I’m seeing if a search engine knows the song that I’m humming to it’, to which she replied ‘If you already know what it is, why are you asking the question?’ And I suppose that is a basic flaw in this whole ‘you hum it’ system – if you don’t know what the song is in the first place, even when you are provided with a list of possibilities you’re going to have to wade through all of them to find the one you want.

So for once, I admit defeat. I was unable to get any kind of sense out of either search engine, and to be fair this could be entirely the fault of my singing/humming voice. Consequently I feel unable to recommend or scorn either search engine – you’ll simply have to try them yourself, but do it when no-one is around, because otherwise they’ll think you’ve finally flipped.

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