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New Google News Feature - will we see it in regular search?

 6:00 pm on Jan 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

I check Google News several times a day. This morning I noticed a new format at the bottom of the page -- "Most Viewed" -- where a full graphic of newspaper front pages is displayed. For me this came up by default without me doing anything, so if it's been around for awhile, I've never requested it and thus have never seen it before. Anyway, I can't help but wonder if full graphic home pages will one day come up at the bottom of SERPs, under "Most Viewed" or "Most Popular". It's a powerful presentation so if it IS ever incorporated into the SERPs, woe be it to anyone who is not included.




 9:48 pm on Jan 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't know that this would make sense in organic search. Popularity is already folded into the algorithm, no?


 9:57 pm on Jan 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

I saw that just a bit ago and clicked on its "X" to turn it off immediately. Hope it stays turned off.


 1:07 am on Jan 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't know that this would make sense in organic search. Popularity is already folded into the algorithm, no?

Certainly you're right, but with Cuil offering the graphic enhancement (not that they're a threat!), I wonder if this sort of thing isn't the direction that the SERPs may go for all the major SE's in the coming years, especially with broadband the default for most people. If not at the the bottom of the page, then in some other form -- the point being that in addition to coming up on page 1, it will be increasingly important to look good too ... and to my way of thinking, there's nothing wrong with that, given how many truly unattractive sites ARE at or near the top only because they play the optimizing game so well.


Robert Charlton

 1:59 am on Jan 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

This format is called Fast Flip, and it was announced as a beta feature in Google Labs in Sept 2009....

New in Google Labs - Read news fast with Google Fast Flip

The feature was developed in conjunction with a group of major newpaper publishers with the specific intent of creating ad revenue. The interface attempts to echo the browsing experience you get in a newspaper, and it serves related display ads. As a way of browsing a newspaper, I don't think that quite works... but, as a way of displaying ads, it might have some possibilities.

Google hasn't yet licked the problem of an ad for a product displayed next to a negative story about the product, but I'm sure they will soon. ;)

It's hard to say whether this ad interface might work with other kinds of search, as the "flipping" pages are large enough that you often don't need to visit the publishers' sites to read the stories. In this current news model, the news publishers share in the ad revenues; it's an opt-in arrangement for the publishers. In other kinds of search, page display this large might be objectionable.

I should note that this appears to be Google's first direct attempt at news monetization via ads.

I'll be interested to see whether the publishers gain more from this model than from selling ads on their own pages with the current headline and snippet model. I think the current model is still more likely to drive visitors to the newspaper site... but Google's related display ads may attract more clicks and revenue.


 2:14 am on Jan 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks Robert for that thorough explanation. If they ever take this format and apply it to search -- which as Tedster points out does not necessarily seem likely for the present -- I would expect considerably smaller graphics (though perhaps bigger than Cuil). It seems inevitable to me that graphics will in some way eventually enter the SERPs -- when and how is open to speculation.


Robert Charlton

 4:00 am on Jan 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

I would expect considerably smaller graphics (though perhaps bigger than Cuil).

Agreed, but then you wouldn't be able to use them to browse, and what would be the point of having them?

About 15 months ago (which seems like a lifetime in web time if you consider how much has happened since), there was a new search engine, now defunct, called SearchMe, with a striking graphic interface that prompted some extremely contentious discussion in the Alternative Search Engines forum here....

SearchMe is pretty cool

The major issue (among many) was that the page images were too large and the snippets were too long, large enough and long enough that they could cost some publishers a lot of traffic. Though the page displays were quite a bit smaller than the main images in Fast Flip, the interface was much jazzier. The SearchMe thread is required reading if you're thinking of building a graphic search engine.

Also re Cuil... not really on topic, but worth mentioning... Cuil's graphics often don't even come from the site they're associated with. Even if they did, they're not really useful for any kind of browsing.


 4:20 am on Jan 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Re Cuil & SearchMe, if/when Google or Bing go down this road, I think we can bet the farm they'll study those launches carefully, will avoid the pitfalls, and will incorporate webpage screenshot graphics in a way which will, from that point on, be the standard. Giving the users a way to "preview" the site, and thus increase user satisfaction, will in and of itself justify their decision. Faster computers, faster servers, faster broadband connections -- and the ongoing tech desire to up-the-ante -- make it all but inevitable. To get the most clickthroughs, you'll need to rank AND look good.


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