Businessweek has a good article that covers some of the competition in the search industry. It’s interesting to see the angle that each engine takes:
– Ask contends that its topic communities better than PageRank; this is the “would you want to trust a room full of people, or a room full of experts on your topic” angle. Personally, this wouldn’t be the angle that I’d press on. For one thing, it’s hard to explain. Also, this patent shows that Google has thought about different types of link analysis besides published papers on PageRank:
The new patent deals with the process for finding matching documents. Under the methodology, Google turns up an initial set of documents related to the keyword and then ranks each page with a “relevance score.” Next, it calculates a “local score value” that quantifies “an amount that the documents are referenced by other documents in the generated set of documents,” according to the filing. Finally, the local score values influence the relevance ranking of a page.
According to the patent, “a search engine modifies the relevance rankings for a set of documents based on the interconnectivity of the documents in the set. A document with a high interconnectivity with other documents in the initial set of relevant documents indicates that the document has ‘support’ in the set, and the document’s new ranking will increase. In this manner, the search engine re-ranks the initial set of ranked documents to thereby refine the initial rankings.”
Wow, Krishna filed that patent well over five years ago.
– Clusty mentions topic communities too, but the timing is good because they also get to mention their Clusty Cloud feature. Here’s a Clusty Cloud for Matt Cutts, for example:
I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to think about where that text is drawn from.
– MSN’s Justin Osmer has a nice quote saying that they’re in search for the long haul and are shooting for first place.
– Yahoo! goes with the social search angle.
– Eurekster talks about social search and their Swickis, which let users create search engines focused on certain topics and urls.
– Snap gets a mention for how they show thumbnail previews of search results.
– A9 is mentioned, but in the context of their recent scale-back of features.
There’s also a quote from me that I’d like to clarify:
“We have more engineers working on core search technology than ever before,” says Cutts, adding that most employees spend about 75 percent of their time tweaking Google’s main search algorithm to make results faster, more relevant, and more comprehensive for users.
The part I’d like to clarify is “most employees spend about 75 percent of their time tweaking Google’s main search algorithm.” I was talking about the breakdown where Google wants to spend 70% of its efforts on core competencies like search and ads, and I probably said it poorly. The way I’d put it is that many engineers spend their time on Google’s core quality and those engineers work very hard to improve our search.
It’s absolutely the case that we have more engineers working on core search than ever before (and these are talented and smart folks). I think a new product or feature is much easier to point to than “Look, our language identification and segmentation accuracy is X% better, and our recall improved by Y%!”, so new products and features tend to get talked about more than core search.