• http://durak.org/sean/ sean dreilinger

    WSJ posted a brief follow-up a few hours later, also from Amir Efrati, with commentary from the cofounder of Metaweb: http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2012/03/14/what-googles-search-changes-might-mean-for-you/

  • davep

    It isn’t often I disagree with an article I read on SEL – but this time I suspect you are giving Google too much slack.

    Google continues to take away from (sm)all publishers, but it also continues to take from them by harvesting the information they have produced. Google continues to treat publisher’s content as their own to do with as they wish (think Yelp and others reviews on Places – used to prop the product for up for 2 years while it got a foothold then dumped).

    The more that Google tries to give “direct answers” the less people discover on the internet – sure people may go to a website to find out the height of a mountain but they may then find other great content on that site. Perhaps related information on the mountain, or perhaps they’ll just find that the site as a whole useful. Without visiting the other sites they won’t – and that means not only do the publishers loose out, but the users do too.

    Of course, Google will argue that users are free to click through if they want – but you can be sure that the SERPs will be structured in a way that makes it a whole lot easier for users to stay on Google properties (I can already imagine the enthusiastic “Hangout and discuss ‘the height of mount mckinley’ on Google+ links) or click the ads.

    Google’s mission to shrink the internet continues.

  • O.L.

    Where on earth did you get that google is “talking big” from, in that article? The only quote they had was Amit Singal mentioning that they’re building a knowledge base, which itself was probably taken totally out of context and they they managed to blow up into a whole article. Yet some how you’ve found some pr campaign and like wsj have blown in out of proportion with no basis or source!?

  • joex2

    Google copies Microsoft again.

  • http://ebiquity.umbc.edu/person/html/Varish/Mulwad/ Varish

    While I really like the new things Google and Bing are trying out (especially, the semantics & entities part, given that my PhD research revolves around that !), but I was wondering how much % of queries lead to direct answers ? Not many, I guess ? And if the % is less, do Google/Bing really care for them ?

  • Pat

    maybe it’s some weird extension of the usual lag between techie awareness and gen pop awareness… when i saw it this morning, obviously recycled, i wondered if it was some sort of pay wall or seo testing by news orgs (cuz it aint news, but they are putting it out). next cup of coffee should dampen my morning conspiratoriality.

  • http://www.topherkohan.com Topher Kohan

    A well written article as usual Danny.

    That said, I have to disagree with you on one point. You say that the inclusion of more direct answers could take away from smaller sites, but should have little impact on larger sites. To me, this feels like a short-sighted statement at best.

    I would say that larger sites are just as impacted by the inclusion of the “OneBox” direct answer. It is nothing short of Google taking money away from sites.

    I might go as far as to say they’re stealing from the sites. I am all about Google getting info from sites for inclusion in the SERPS. I believe that falls under “fair use.” But to cull info and then give it away in a manner that keeps the user from needing to go to the site is a different thing in my mind altogether.

    If the user is looking for a sports score or an election result — and they find that info on a Google page – it’s the same as Google taking money away from the source and putting it into their own pocket.

    I have heard Google say, “We have data that shows the users want this and the sites benefit from it.” B.S.!

    Ask NFL.com, NASCAR.com, MLB.com or any big news site on a primary night how they feel about people not having to come to their site to find out who won and who lost.

    This is, in my mind, Google once again flexing it power over publishers and taking from them for its own financial gain.

  • http://alunhill.com Alun Hill

    The Uk’s Daily Mail has copied the article’s concepts and made it worse!

    “Google search will soon do more than simply hunt down words – instead, it will ‘answer questions’ in a drastic makeover for the search engine.
    Within months, Google searches will no longer throw up a simple list of blue links – a huge change for the page that forms the world’s ‘doorway’ to the web.
    Instead, the top of the Results page will be dotted with information that ‘answers questions’ posed in Search.
    The move echoes what Microsoft has done with its Bing search engine”.

    Some of the comments there are funnier, though!

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2115273/Google-Semantic-search-answer-questions-shift-makes-like-Bing.html#ixzz1pCGCKXAC

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2115273/Google-Semantic-search-answer-questions-shift-makes-like-Bing.html

    Sigh!

  • http://webmd.com roseberry

    Agree completely with Topher here. If google had reporters, editors, etc. that were creating the answers that would be on thing, but how they do it currently is taking the work of others, extracting it and developing a type of content strategy around it (really these one-boxes and answer boxes are just a content product – not a search product). Imagine if a site like ehow or any other generalist site had a question and answer engine that worked like this. They’d get skewered. Just because web publishers allow crawling for their pages to be included in an index, doesn’t mean they consent to Google extracting data and content to use to enhance it’s own product development where that content is used outside of the index of the page it came from.

  • http://reinvent.com Rob Woods

    Topher, to be fair I think what Danny said was that single answers would take traffic away from a relatively “small set of sites” rather than a “set of small sites”. Large sites could well be included in the small set of sites losing traffic from expanded one box type answers.

    Having said that I firmly believe that search IS moving inexorably away from the 10 blue text links. Google may not be moving as quickly in that direction as some as they haven’t figured out how to monetize ads as well in environments other than the traditional SERPs. I believe that single authoritative answers, likely on mobile devices or devices integrated into whole systems which control a given environment (like the Star Trek computer) are going to become much more prevalent in the way people search in the future. As a user if I want to find the solution to a query with a single answer, all I want is that single answer (or address, phone number, sports score, weather forecast, etc). If Google wants to continue to be dominant in search they HAVE to build better tech on both the voice recognition and single answer fronts. If they don’t someone will.

    It’s certainly going to change the future for the sources of that data and Google taking data from those sources without proper attribution would not be right, but what if they do an end run around the content producers? They have their own location data, they could get sports scores directly from the major leagues, weather info from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, factual information direct from authoritative sources or build their own database of answers, etc. It’s certainly a threat to a wide range of content producers and I don’t think it’s happening tomorrow but if publishers don’t start preparing for the very real probability that this is the way search could go they are going to wake up one day with a big hit to their traffic.

  • http://searchoftheday.com david yehaskel

    Maybe Google is getting back at WSJ for its Google-is-a-slut swipe. “Leak” the “new features” to a WSJ reporter who will run with it and presto! Instant irony with a karmic twist – had the reporter bothered to execute the barest minimum of a couple Google searches, he would have quickly seen through it and never “reported” it.

  • http://jadedtlc.blogspot.com JT

    I agree with Topher. Google already one-boxes video game release dates which are the bread and butter of high traffic for video game sites. They take our information and then the user has no reason to click through to our sites which may have more information. The user is robbed of seeing if it was a console only or pc game release date.

    So no, Google, you cannot be a publisher and a promoter of websites at the same time. And it’s time they chose one side and paid for our content.

  • http://blog.webpro.in Bharati

    I think all these changes mentioned in the WSJ (if true) are drawing a clear, distinct line between organic search campaigns and paid campaigns. All of these developments will make SEOs and website owners think beyond rankings and keywords, because the true meaning of SEO is to ensure quality search engine presence on maximum search options by focusing on overall quality web presence — enhancing the quality aspects of the website and reaching out to netizens via various modes of social media.

    Finally the search industry has matured and is qualitatively marching ahead. But, this has not happened overnight the search engines (Google And Bing) have been constantly working to improve the quality and display of search results by giving more and more search options over a period of time. The study of the user behavior being at the base of all the decisions as the user behavior is also constantly evolving over the years.

    If at all Google in the near future starts rolling out semantic search the relevance to the logic of the intent, the keyword mapping in the query and the freshness of the content will all matter collectively. The search engines have been working on semantic search since the advent of web 2.0

    My views related to this topic in detail on :

    http://blog.webpro.in/2012/03/my-views-on-wsj-post-google-gives.html

  • mike2000

    Maybe Google’s direct answers will be marked as duplicate content…

  • http://twitter.com/SeoLair George Fischer

    Google sending tons of referral traffic to WikiPedia.  I believe these changes are an attempt to keep those visitors on Google.com to find the information as opposed to visiting WikiPedia.  Google does this with Air Travel and other key verticals.  The more time users spend on Google.com as opposed to other sites, the more likely they are to click on PPC ads :)

  • http://twitter.com/PerthPlanner Avant Financial

    Bing does not compare to Google. In Australia Bing does not have its own registry of businesses for their maps section. Instead they just use the information from the local yellow pages – pathetic. Most importantly though is that the search results are not of the same standard as Google.

  • http://twitter.com/REALITY_SUCKS REALITY SUCKS

     Expand WORSE THAN THAT IS… DOES GOOGLE THINK THE AVERAGE USER IS SO STUPID…. WE WONT NOTICE THEY CUT THE ACTUAL  AMOUNT OF DATA & INFORMATION SEARCHABLE, DOWN TO 1%???? THEY HAVE CENSORED HUGE AMOUNTS OF DATA OFF THE SEARCH ENGINE..CUT IT TO THE BONE!!!   LEAVING US WITH THE CRUMBS!!! THEY HAVE MOUNTAINS OF DATA…BUT, NOW, WE DONT HAVE ACCESS TO ANYTHING BUT CORPORATE CRAP ADS AND, POLITICALLY CORRECT, BIAS INFORMATION!!!! THE WORLD OF INFORMATION, IS LOCKED BEHIND THE GOOG-CENSORSHIP!!! LESS IS MORE ACCORDING TO SCHMIDT??? B.S. **LESS IS A COVERT CENSORSHIP… TO KEEP US, IN THE INFORMATION-DARK!!! NOW WE KNOW WHAT THEY WERE UP TO.  ***NO DATA….*** FEW SEARCH RESULTS!!  ****SELECTIVE COVERT DATA- CENSORSHIP!!!!