If you’re planning a trip abroad, how do you find out more about the place you’re visiting? Do you search online to see what you can find? Or do you ask friends and relatives who have been there for their recommendations?
The chances are it’s probably both. And it’s the idea that we use both – search engines and recommendations from friends – that’s behind new search engine ‘Qyo‘.
“…the world’s first search query sharing system that allows for social information discovery and real-time collaborative search”. Ahem. Snappy, ain’t it?
Google have increasingly been accused of listing lots of websites in their results pages that offer little or no value to people searching for products or information.
These websites often contain very ‘lite’ information, and have been developed purely to rank highly on Google and make the owner some advertising revenue.
Google have responded to these criticisms with an update to their search algorithm called ‘farmer’, which aims to weed out these built-for-ads sites, often called ‘content farms’.
To help with this Google are adding a feature called ‘Site Exclusion’. If you – as an individual – see websites that you think should not be ranking highly in the results page, you can add these to your site exclusion list and you will no longer see them.
This is what you’ll see:
The sites that you exclude will only be removed from your personal results pages – everyone else will continue to see them.
You can manage the list of sites that you’ve excluded from within your Google account:
A Ranking factor?
But what’s interesting is that Google may in the future take into account whether a site has been added to thousands of people’s exclusion lists, and use that information to reshape the results for all.
According to Google: “While we’re not currently using the domains people block as a signal in ranking, we’ll look at the data and see whether it would be useful as we continue to evaluate and improve our search results in the future”.
Once you have the site exclusion feature enabled let us know what you think. But please don’t exclude ‘webeden.uk’!
When you search for information on a subject on Google, do you find it easy to make sense of the results you find?
Google is often accused of listing websites in its search results pages that are ‘spammy’, that don’t really contain meaningful information about what you’ve searched for, and are there just to make a few dollars in advertising.
Whilst Google itself is addressing this ‘spam’ issue, it’s certainly an opportunity for other ‘cleaner’ search engines to get in there and explain stuff in a better way.
Enter stage left ‘Qwiki’, a new search engine which recently won ‘Best Startup’ at Techcrunch. Built by the team originally behind Alta Vista, Qwiki is “where information becomes an experience you can watch”.
When you do a search on Qwiki, the search engine turns the information it finds in the search results into an interactive presentation. You get a mix of photos, videos and extra links, along with a computer generated voice over summary.
The Qwiki “curated information experience” is hugely different from Google’s results pages, so much so that one of the judges at Techcrunch referred to it as “your personal HAL”, a reference to the talking computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Do you know your famous dates from history? Got anything for the 11th of April 1954? Well don’t worry – you can carry on going for the brown pie in Trivial Pursuit. Because that is the date identified by a team of Cambridge scientists as ‘the most boring date in history’.
It was the only day in the 20th century that was devoid of any major news events, even the birth or death of anyone famous. All that happened was a General Election… in Belgium.
This date was uncovered by the scientists who were in the process of developing a new search engine comprised of millions of facts spread out over history. The aim was to create a database which made searching for particular days and events much easier.
The search engine has been given the name TrueKnowledge.com and the strapline “The Internet answer engine”. The project is led by William Reeve, who founded ScreenSelect.co.uk which merged with LOVEFiLM in 2006.
A spokesman commented “The irony is that having done the calculation, the day is now interesting for being exceptionally boring. Perhaps we need to calculate the second most boring day”.
Take a look at TrueKnowledge.com and let us know what you think.
Do you ever Google a topic only to find the results page full of spammy, text rich sites, or websites selling suspect products? See what I mean by Googling ‘cure for tummy ache’ – there is a huge range of results, some of which rank highly just because they have loads of text on the page and a keyword rich domain name. Only a few are what I’d call trustworthy and authoritative.
Blekko is a new search engine designed to weed out these spammy sites. It’s a human edited index that has been created using ‘slashes’. These are lists of trusted websties in particular categories – all searches are limited to results served in these categories.
There are almost a thousand of these slashtags that have been created by the Blekko team, headed up by Rich Skrenta, “The goal is to clean up Web search and get all the spam out of it”,
Blekko already has an index of over 3bn pages. But when you search on there you only see the top results. And those results are quite different from Google’s, which (claim the Blekko team) can’t tell the difference between genuine sites and those created just so they grab traffic.
Blekko also have a go at Google regarding their lack of transparency about their results algorithm. By contrast, Blekko shows extra data such as the number of inbound links, to a site, where they come from, and how long they’ve been there.
Have a look at Blekko and let us know what you think. Can you find your website in the relevant search results on Blekko? Do you see a better list of results? Leave us a comment below.
Towards the end of last year Google launched a ‘recommendation engine’ called ‘Hotpot’.
Hotpot collects ratings and reviews about places, and ties them to your social circle. When you search for a local business such as a restaurant, Hotpot surfaces those results that have been recommended by your friends. The idea is that if they liked a place, then you’ll probably like it too.
Hotpot is integrated with Google Maps for Mobile. Users can leave ratings and reviews using their phone. And if they’re on an Android device then opinions can be expressed using a widget, with just a few taps of the screen.
Each time you give a rating, that rating is used to judge what you or your friends might like in the future.
This is an exciting development for local businesses looking to boost custom. The idea is that if you look after your customers, they’ll leave you positive feedback, which their friends will take into account when buying your type of service.
What do you do in an emergency? Ask a passer by for help? Phone 999? Apparently some of us open up Google and search for help… which explains why they’ve just started displaying a combination of special search results for ‘emergency’ searches.
The project started off last year by adding results for poison control.
Example of the poison control result in Spain
Following that is the US the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was added to make it easier for suicidal Googlers to find help.
Example of the suicide prevention result in the U.K.
This proved a real boost for calls to the hotline to Google decided to widen the net. Now 13 countries will see one or more of these results; hotlines that are available nationally 24/7 have been added. The countries are:
Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.
Google have also added a special search result for more common emergencies.
Example of the emergency number result in France
What do you think of the idea? Have you looked for critical help in times of need? Leave us a comment below.