On advertising and search

Dave asks, When Google has to cut its own revenue stream by enhancing search, will they do it?

Good question. Here is another: Has Google’s success at advertising slowed its innovations around search? And, How far will Google go with search engine improvements if there’s clearly no advertising money in it?

I’m not suggesting answers here. I’m just asking.

There are many things I would love to search for that Google doesn’t cover. But then, nobody does. For example, a date-range search just of blogs. Google Blogsearch does feature date-based search, with the most recent on top. But what if I want to search just in November and December of 2004? Near as I can tell, it can’t be done. (Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m glad to be.) [Later...] I am corrected by the first two comments.

I once had high hopes that Technorati would support that kind of search, but both Technorati and Google Blogsearch are playing the What’s Popular game. (For what it’s worth, I used to be on Technorati’s advisory board, but now David Sifry is gone and I’m not sure the company even has one any more.)

Anyway, it’s hard for me not to appreciate the many different ways Google lets me search for stuff. Their geographic services, for example, are amazing. So is stuff like this. But I can’t help but notice that the basic search offering has changed relatively little over the years. Is it because of the advertising? You tell me. I really don’t know.

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13 comments

  1. Tim’s avatar

    Well if they don’t someone else will, won’t they?

  2. Carl Morris’s avatar

    You can search by date range on Google Blogsearch. The “Choose Dates” option is there on the left side of the blogsearch results page.

  3. Simon Edhouse’s avatar

    Google has little incentive to adapt and innovate its search system beyond incremental tweaks, and many disincentives to do so. – Although Google’s system associates search + content with key-words to improve targeting, Google still operates in the same web-paradigm as its competitors, in effect, partly due to client-demand and the stickiness of industry affiliations. Also, Google effectively underpins the massive SEO industry and thereby collects it as it’s baggage. Even though SEO plainly corrupts Google-search, for Google to rock that boat would take more balls than they appear to possess.

    Google is in effect a reactionary force helping to lock-in the industry around the legacy Advertiser-to-Publisher paradigm.. and let’s not forget Google’s 2-sided market duopoly which creates adv-model inertia for itself and the rest of the industry. i.e. ADWORDS (for Advertisers) allows advertisers to buy ad inventory based on keywords; and ADSENSE (for Publishers) allows publishers to sell ad inventory to Adwords advertisers… a neat and highly profitable system, but one that locks Google into the legacy Adv-Pub model.

    In this ecosystem, all key-players are intermediaries between Advertisers and Publishers, and the actual web-user is excluded as a stake-holder, although user’s actually provide the two most valuable commodities that feed the system, a) their Attention, and b) their Interest-Data.

    For Google to continue to truly innovate in search it would have to cannibalise its own meat & potatoes business, and wreck the entire ecosystem it largely created, sustains and dominates. – very unlikely.

  4. Dorion Carroll’s avatar

    Google is a multi-billion dollar company with 16,000+ employees. Technorati is about 35 employees. The most amazing thing here is that you have (had) hopes for Technorati that might equal your hopes from Google.

    Under the hood, Technorati can provide the type of advanced search capabilities you are looking for. The trouble is, how can we make it really easy and powerful, and, more importantly, how can we survive as a business if we don’t focus our resources on monetization. Though there are great research queries one could run against a vertical index of blogs, it is very expensive to keep it all spinning, all the time, for the very few who might even appreciate such a thing

    Technorati continues to innovate in the search, discovery, and content sides of our business, but our most promising growth opportunities are those that combine what is useful to bloggers and their readers with advertising. Particularly in these economic times, it is important to provide valuable services that also create value.

    Thanks for the post.

  5. Ted Shelton’s avatar

    Yes you can do constrained date range search on Google. But the system is (1) full of garbage and (2) woefully behind in what it tracks. Take a look at some of the competing ideas about how to do this stuff like Scoutlabs (full of ex-Technorati people by the way)

  6. Doc Searls’s avatar

    atul and Carl, thanks for the corrections. I made note of them on the post.

    Dorion, I appreciate all that Technorati does, and continue to use Technorati nearly every day. (Hey, Technorati was born as a hack David Sifry did when he and I were working on a story about blogs for Linux Journal back in ’03 or something. I have a very personal connection to it.) But I don’t agree that those who would “appreciate such a thing” are “very few.” But then, how can I argue for something when it’s not there to try? And I’m not sure what “combine what is useful to bloggers and their readers with advertising” means for users other than just advertising.

  7. Jennifer Zeszut’s avatar

    In addition to the standard date ranges (1m, 3M, 6M), Scout Labs just added a few additional ways to get access to the social media data that you are looking for, including: “end on “, “start on ” and “center on ” for, say, a campaign that started on Dec 15th, but you’re curious about both pre-launch buzz and coverage from launch day forward. Those same controls exist for the graphs too. Ours is a paid service for ongoing monitoring and analysis, though, so we DO have a clear way to monetize such development (and we don’t have to worry about advertising).

  8. Seo’s avatar

    Google, in my observation, constantly improve each of their products and services. But since they have a lot, it may look like that one product is being ignored.

  9. Jeffrey L. Smith’s avatar

    In regard to Google Blog Search, here is a tip you might try.

    Even though, it does not appear that they are supporting the archive function, you may be able to use search operators or a wildcard search method, then use the + show options tab in Google to then dig deeper, use the wonder wheel or look up specific date based information by topic.

    To conduct a wild card search you can just add * in place of the keyword you wanted Google to fill in the blanks on and then use AND “keyword topic” to dial in your keyword / topic.

    For example:

    investment * AND “rates”

    Then sift and sort based on date in the + Show Options to go back to the dated / indexed content.

    Although this is a useful technique for SEO, you can still use it for multiple variations of information retrieval.

    In the search query above you would find a convergence on the topic or (*) and the modifier “rates” or other known synonyms.

  10. Matt Hughes’s avatar

    The Google Adwords program is not going to go away anytime soon.
    Google is a powerful force and will dominate the search space for years to come.

    For Google to continue to truly innovate in search it would have to be very risky in itself because it might come back and haunt them. But Google is truly an innovator and continues to take chances and that’s what differentiates them from other companies. Let us hope they continue to innovate.

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