February 2012 Archive
MediaPost reports that Blekko will begin experimenting with search ads. The report is that Blekko will use ads from Google or Bing. At this point, I do not yet see any advertising appearing, but it bodes well for a longer-term survival of Blekko as an alternative search engine if it can manage to find an income stream.
I usually check for ads with searches like discount hotels, online florists, or dSLR. None of these searches displayed ads for me, even after checking in the preferences to be sure that ads were enabled. Under the Privacy settings, there is an option for displaying ads or not, so I assume that once the ads start appearing, they would be easy to turn off by checking the "No ads" box or all the "SuperPrivacy" settings.
This may take a few days or longer before the ads start to appear. I am interested to see if they show up in the usual places or if Blekko will experiment with different placement.
Back in November, Google started launching a new interface it dubbed the Google Bar. At that time, in my comparison between the old and the new versions, I was dismayed by the removal of several databases from the drop down list. Over the months since that announcement, the new Google Bar was only very gradually being rolled out, and many users never saw it. Then, last week, Google announced a retreat. Instead of the new drop-down-from-the-logo Google Bar (like in the image if you'd not seen it), they are going back to the black menu bar at the top "with a consistent and expanded set of links running across the top of the page."
Unfortunately, the links are consistent with newly abandoned design in that the following databases and product are lost from appearing in the top black bar and from the drop down under "More."
In addition, Video is now down in last place on the More drop down and YouTube is featured instead in the top bar. Google-owned YouTube is certainly the dominant web video provider, but this will make it less likely that Google users will find non-YouTube content. How much of a difference is that?
The database loss means that it is now more difficult and time consuming to take a search in Google and switch it to Scholar, Groups, or Blogs (all three databases that I use somewhat regularly, especially Scholar). You can still get to the Blogs database by switching to News (but you have to use the link on the left rather than the link in the top bar which just goes to the News home page) and then once the news results display, look for the Blogs link under All News on the left.
Does this mean Scholar may be destined for the Google graveyard or just that Google finds that most Scholar users do not start from a Google search and then switch to Scholar? We'll need to wait and see. What's gone or more hidden?
- Search switching to Google Scholar and Groups
- Video search demoted
- Google Sites link buried under "Even more"
- The "Web" database is now just called "Search"
So what is being featured instead?
- Mobile (which is just a direct link to the ad for Google Mobile, it is of little use to computer users)
- Music (not a searchable database but another ad for another recent Google product)
- Offers (another ad for a newer Google product attempting to compete with Groupon and LivingSocial)
- Wallet (ad for new, recently-hacked Google payment scheme)
- Blogger (a long-time Google service not previously available from the main menus)
It seems like a continuing move towards increased Google product promotion and a diminished role for searchable databases.
Volunia, a new search engine from Massimo Marchiori in Italy, was announced several months ago and promised a new kind of searching. In beta, its tag line is "Seek & Meet" emphasizing the social aspects of the search engine. I was able to sign up as an early "power user" (i.e. beta tester), and yesterday I finally was able to log in and try the new search engine. Plenty of others have written about it from SearchEngineLand to Forbes. So I thought I'd let people who do not have an account take a first view at how it looks. Here is my (edited) screencast of my first attempt using it for a navigational query and a couple subject searches. I have certainly not explored all the new features and have not yet linked it to any of my social networks, but at first glance, Volunia has
- a decent size database which is not yet as large or broad as Google or Bing (no big surprise there)
- features a very busy screen with many links to social searching
- shows which other Volunia users have viewed some pages
- does not yet appear to support phrase searching, cache links, or an advanced search page
- has many language limits
- has a visual map and grid map view of results
Volunia's welcome message to its beta users includes the following: "Welcome to Volunia! We are as excited as you are to see how this new ideas will take place, and change the landscape of the web. . . . Please remember we are a startup so this is just the beginning: we have started with a relatively small part of the web in our index, so to see the impact on our architecture. Therefore, only the most important web sites are now present. In the future, once we have assimilated your feedback, we will expand the search engine and let it grow so to cover a bigger part of the web: our architecture is modular and scalable so we will just need to add machines. Meanwhile, if you want you can still add your web site, even if not in our index, by using the corresponding option on your profile, taking control and building your own map. You can also edit the map of your site if already
Watch the screencast on YouTube