Well, I just got back from the conference in Chicago, but I still have so much I want to tell you about that I didn't have time to mention yesterday!
A Hot New Trend? It appears that a new trend may be developing in the search engine world. In his Keynote speech, Jim Canzone of AskJeeves said, "Search is everything." Jim said he's been noticing that search is taking users away from other informational mediums, such as newspapers, radio, and television, because it provides information so quickly and efficiently. It's not surprising that search is the number one web activity.
Google's Not the Only Engine. According to Jim, search query volumes grow at an average of 30% each year while search engine users only grow approximately 8% each year. This means that people are searching more and the uses of search are expanding. People use approximately 2.8 search engines per month, he says, trying to emphasize that Google isn't the only search engine out there.
Does Paid Inclusion Hurt Relevancy? Greg Jarboe, president and co-founder of SEO-PR, asked how paid inclusion effects result relevancy.
Poor Jim began to squirm. It was painful to watch him backtrack and shuffle around, trying and failing to provide a solid answer.
Relevancy is important but profits are, too. Should all search engines move in the same direction as Google in order to provide more relevant results? Obviously, all search engines will say, "Yes, we can provide relevancy AND paid inclusion!" However, I think that over time users will determine what happens. If searchers begin to see too many ads showing up in search results, they'll starting searching elsewhere. If a search engine loses its searchers it loses its business.
Search is Media. What's interesting is that Greg backs up what Jim said with one of the most interesting views on search engines I've ever heard. He sees them not just as search tools, but as a media outlet. Every medium has its own audience profile. As Greg said, "The quality of the information determines the quality of the audience."
Lowest on the Food Chain. "MSN is the lowest on the food chain," Greg says. "Lots of people have Internet Explorer browsers with MSN as their search default. These are newbies who haven't figured out that they have options yet. For some marketers, this is a good audience."
The Many Eras of Yahoo! Greg went on to explain the nature of MSN's competitor, Yahoo. According to Greg, the Yahoo audience is more complex than that of MSN. First of all, Yahoo was one of the earliest and best ways to find information and content on the web. Greg even went as far as to break Yahoo's history down into different eras:
Era One - Human editors provide Yahoo with a real personality. Eventually this becomes too expensive.
Era Two - Enter: Inktomi, Stage Left
Era Three - Hello, Google!
Era Four - Inktomi again.
Greg's point is that the relevance and power of the Yahoo search has changed throughout the different eras, but the Yahoo audience is loyal due to familiarity; they know how to find what they want, and the fact that Yahoo offers free email as well doesn't hurt ;)
Big, Bad Google. Google, however, is for hard-core searchers. It's very utilitarian, Greg says. It's very "just the facts, ma'am!" The Google persona can be compared to that of an engineer in that it's objective and unbiased.
Greg's take on AskJeeves was very interesting. He said, "AskJeeves reminds me of the Canadians. Canadians are very aware that they're not Americans while Americans aren't aware at all of the Canadians."
Now, before anyone gets offended by this statement, I think what he means is AskJeeves is aware that it's not Google or other top search engines, but many other search engines see it as a minor player.
What do you think he meant by this?