AutoByTel just commissioned a study on people's search habits, which found that 72% of Americans are experiencing "Search Engine Fatigue". They search but they are not finding what they are looking for. We in the industry are quite familiar with search fatigue. As I have posted before, most of the searching I do is vertical search from the Firefox toolbar with plugins like Wikipedia, Yelp, IMDB, Whois, etc.
Search ranking based on counting the number of inbound links made a lot of sense when inbound links actually meant something. Today, people have gamed the system so much that inbound links mean nothing. If you don't believe this statement, search for something that nobody cares to make money off of like Bridge Construction and the first few links actually are relevant and there are relevant targeted ads off to the right! It the mindblowing Google experience we all had a few years ago when we set Google to be our homepage.
Now search for something like Futon Filling or iPod Connectivity. These types of searches used to point to the content that people thought was most relevant. Now it points to the content that has the most cross linking by smarmy advertisers. Global search has made a gradual transition over the years from something useful to something useless, yet people are still repeating the patterns that used to work and wondering what is going on.
Is link-based page ranking dead? Maybe not, Jimmy Wales announced last year that he is building a search engine based off of the number of links from Wikipedia, which are well qualified links. Google keeps trying to stem the tide of bad links, but eventually they will have to change their algorithm to reflect the reality that most links suck. In the meantime, I think it is safe to say that global search is pretty lame, and I am going to stick with vertical search for most of my searching.
- Peter Yared
- Peter Yared is the CTO/CIO of CBS Interactive, a top ten Internet destination, and was previously the founder and CEO of four enterprise infrastructure companies that were acquired by Sun, VMware, Webtrends and TigerLogic. Peter's software has powered brands from Fidelity to Home Depot to Lady Gaga. At Sun, Peter was the CTO of the Application Server Division and the CTO of the Liberty federated identity consortium. Peter is the inventor of several patents on core Internet infrastructure including federated single sign on and dynamic data requests. Peter began programming games and utilities at age 10, and started his career developing systems for government agencies. Peter regularly writes about technology trends for CNET and has also written for the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, VentureBeat and AdWeek.
Many thanks to Bob Pulgino, Dave Prue, Steve Zocchi and Jean-Louis Gassée for mentoring me over the years.