Orion Panel – Is PageRank Broken?
Moderator: Andrew Goodman, PageZero Media
Tim Schigel, ShareThis
FutureNow Dude that I think I wrote interview questions for
Stacey Jarvis, Microsoft Canada
Well I missed the Keynote this morning (I’ve missed every Keynote ever – no conference has yet been able to hire a copywriter capable of spinning a description so brilliant that when I wake up in a strange city after a night of partying, I must awake and go hear some smart-ass talk – not yet ) … but I always miss the keynote.
Here we go – Andrew has intro’d the session as being about the future of search, a hell of a topic to be asked for predictions on.
Stacey Jarvis from MS Canada is up first:
In 1997 the way we seared was very text based – since then there has been an information explosion, moving from text based to multi-media. Search is the gateway, so we rely on it more often, even for rich media.
She talks about Petabytes for a while. Fascinating aside.
Canadian’s are using search more and more (and you thought we were unique! HA!). 98% of the Canadian audience are using search engines. Number of searches per searcher has gone up to four or five searches a day, which is a huge gain over the past decade.
Satisfaction with search isn’t necessarily improving. It hasn’t evolved with user needs. That implies that there is opportunity for innovation in search because of :
- Imprecise results (1 in 4 queries is satisfied – 24% require refinement, 15% are completely abandoned, 24% have quick click-backs to the SERPs).
- Research sessions – 42 percent require refinements, 50 percent of sessions are now over 30 mins.
- Inform decisions - 66 percent of ppl are using search more frequently to make decisions (I guess compared to 12 years ago, lost the context).
Users are dissatisfied: opportunity to create betere results
Users want help searching: opportunity for organized experience
Increased focus on tasks – opportunity for decision tools
Andrew Goodman is up next:
Google has really high market share, and they’ve been evolving. But are there alternatives? New SE’s are attacked upon launch, but all of a sudden we’ve got Wolfram Alpha, Bing, Twitter search engine, is this a sign of something changing?
Masked search engineer says:
- Wolfram alpha uses huge datasets, Natural Language Processing, Computation/Inference Engine
It’s getting attention because it’s different – it’s not trying to be google.
- Bing has: extra features, tight integration with verticals, pretty UI, Fast – it’s a bit different but ppl don’t talk about it.
Why do new developments never claim to improve on pagerank? There has been so much emphasis on link building because of pagerank, but if one link is a vote from one page to the other, how do people without websites vote? But aren’t SEOs still debating, what’s in the algorithm? Like SEOMoz tries to survey SEOs each year to talk about factors. Andrew feels those pie charts are guesses, and that things are going to change, and SEOs will have to change their mindsets.
Tim Schigel, ShareThis
Sharethis is a system – it sits on a lot of different websits. Organization tools for sednding messages, posting things, sharing things, across a lot of different sub-mediums, like email, social communications like facebook etc.
How is navigation changing? :
- Then: Sites, content, links
- Now: people, interests, relationships
Everyone shares + People share what matters – They performs some research on this.
69% of adults cite email as a source for new information. 30% youth rely on social networks.
Sharing data is extremely valuable. 81% of ppl share to help someone who would benefit.
Roundtable portion of our event
Andrew asks: so how important is it that search engines are no longer content with displaying just 10 blue links in their SERP?
Futurenow: obviously not everyone wants information presented in the same way – if you type in tango lessons do you want text or videos? Some want one, some want the other.
Stacey: we give consumers too much credit sometimes, and one thing about search is that it is simple. Once you show them something that is different, we challenge their thinking and they can realize that there is a faster way to do things – but we have to present it and let them decide.
Andrew: thinking about how search innovation takes place – as with a lot of technology, there is a lot of slow evolution for the first while. Search engine tech was keyword based, or a standard classification system, then evolved into new ways to find and sort information. Where do these new concepts come from? Does it come from brilliant ppl in labs with lots of money? Does it come from user requests, or from people noticing users struggles?
Tim: Users are looking for more trust and relevance in their information – if we can provide that trust and relevance context, they’re not going to be satisfied with results
Futurenow: SE’s have to do their best guess, I think searcher frustration is going to happen no matter what – we have to train people, the average joe doesn’t know how to search, doesn’t know how to utilize current search engines to their fullest potential.
Stacey: we marry all aspects of engineers, consumers, pain points, lab guys, etc to make a user-optimal innovation.
The topic then delved quickly into search education - are you children going to be taught how to search properly at school? As a parent is it your responsibility to make your children capable of effectively using the available search technology? This is really interesting stuff, because even if search engines evolve to be more intuitive, they’re still going to be more valuable to people who can really use them.
Jumping to the end here - tools:
Andrew: do you guys have any alternate search engines, tools, places to find things?
Tim: twitter requests are independent of the marketer - if I look for a restaurant in a city via twitter, I’m not dependent upon the restaurant to provide what I’m looking for.
Audience questions: is part of our problem definitional? someone said Youtube is the second biggest search engine in Canada.
We can’t pigeon hole what we consider to be search - amazon is a search engine, youtube is a search engine - it wouldn’t make sense to tell people that what they consider to be search, is not search.
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