This post has a snarkiness level of 6 out of 10. If your body can’t handle me being snarky on rare occasions, you should leave now. 😉 Because I noticed a few interesting non-Google tidbits in search news this week.
Barry found a claim that if you participate in Yahoo’s premium pay-for-inclusion program (say that five times fast), you get to submit your choice of “Quick Links” for your site’s listing in Yahoo’s organic search results. I haven’t seen an official confirmation from Yahoo about whether this is true.
Meanwhile, John Battelle uncovered a Microsoft offer for companies to install a browser helper object (BHO) on company computers to measure search usage, and Microsoft will offer service credits for deployment and training services from Microsoft:
Moderate and high promotions include “In-house training session on ‘how to get the most from web search’ using Windows Live Search,” “Remove all existing toolbars,” “Set Homepage to Live Search,” and “Email message of encouragement from CEO.” IE 7 is mandatory for the program, as one might expect.
The program has been confirmed by Microsoft.
What else? I feel the need to include something about Ask. Ah, here’s something. Ask funded an “information revolution” campaign. The site was advertised in the London Tube, for example, but going to information-revolution.org didn’t initially reveal who was behind the site. Well, a few people dug into it and the site was quickly tied to Ask in a variety of ways. The company behind the site wasn’t that big of a secret, because going to the UK version of Ask and searching for Google would show you a link to the information-revolution.org site, complete with a man on puppet strings, before a searcher would get any information or links about Google:
I can guess what a few people are saying: “Matt, why would this surprise me? I mean, the previous Ask ad campaign called me a monkey for not using them, right? So this seems like an improvement. Is there some additional, ironic twist that would make this more compelling?”
Okay, I’ve been waiting for someone else to notice this, but it’s been several days now, so I guess I’ll have to be the snarky one. The whole point of information-revolution.org is to remind people to try out other search engines, right? Well, I decided to see how well Ask had indexed its own ad campaign site. First, let’s see how Google did:
19 results. The domain only has a few pages, so that looks about right to me. Ask keeps pressing everyone to try them, so let’s try the same search on Ask:
Doh! Ask doesn’t have even a single page from its own ad campaign site, and Google indexes the “information revolution” much better than Ask does. So this entire advertising campaign puts Ask in an awkward position:
– If Ask crawls the domain now, it’s open to questions of search favoritism, e.g. “Did Ask do any special crawling for information-revolution.org that other webmasters don’t get?”
– If Ask doesn’t crawl the domain, the whole campaign may collapse in self-referential irony. Every time you see a TV commercial urging “search sleepers” to wake up or posters advertising the revolution, people may instead chat about how Ask did worse than most competitors on the domain that it created (Yahoo had three results when I checked today and Live had zero results).
Personally, I’m just thankful that Ask dropped its “you are a puppet” Smart Answer when you search on Ask for Google.
P.S. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone, including my colleagues at the Dublin office in Ireland. You get to experience the day in the right place. I hear that the best cure for snarkiness is some green beer.
Update: It turns out that Ask doesn’t support using the “site:” command just by itself — you have to add at least one additional word. I learn something new every day. Doing the search [site:information-revolution.org information] shows that Ask has one page from the site, but with kind of a weird snippet. Hmm. Uh oh. In fact, it looks like Ask has an older copy of the information-revolution.org root page, and there’s some pretty strange stuff in that copy. Here’s one snippet:
Jim or Gary, I think you’re going to want to ask about the first version of the site that the agency put up. The first version of the site looks pretty interesting, judging from the snippets above.