diberry - 5:03 pm on Apr 22, 2013 (gmt 0)
I've been thinking about all this, and I have kind of a new theory, or a new take on an existing theory.
For a navigational query like [ibm] or [hp] for example, it makes sense to surface more results from that site.
I agree with that statement, but the host crowding is way more intense than this makes it sound. You can look up a book title and get 7 Amazon links to the book in various formats and editions - no author's website, no Wiki entry, etc. Just Amazon over and over. To me as a searcher, that does NOT serve my needs or the query.
But remember that Google has announced they're no longer "committed to being a search engine" [webmasterworld.com ] - they want to be a "knowledge engine", a statement the meaning of which is still unclear to me.
Maybe algorithmic - or any form of automated - search isn't even the future. In the past year, multiple non-techy friends have advised me to search for things on Pinterest, Yelp, Amazon or "just ask on Facebook", rather than Google. They may still default to Google for some queries, but it's clear to me that average searchers are realizing they'll find quality results on certain queries a lot faster by relying on *other human beings" pinning, reviewing or answering questions rather than on an algo. If I'm seeing this, Google must realize it too.
We may be witnessing the beginning of people rejecting an algo (the automated solution) for crowdsourced human-curated results, and this is why Google is pushing Google+ so hard. I have a feeling Google's biggest fear is Facebook implementing a search engine that uses the social data they collect as part of an algorithm - the best of both worlds, and automated way to find human curated data. Voila - the new "links as votes."
So my point with this long-winded missive? Search's original business model may be reaching the end of its life. Search isn't just competing with Bing, they're competing with social media and established sites that have internal search. They're competing with some of the very brands that are coming up top in their searches, ironically. So if you're not sure whether your current business model is even viable anymore, what do you do? Diversify - put some eggs into some other baskets.
Maybe Google just isn't investing a lot in Search these days, except in terms of technological advancements that translate into other fields. Machine learning, for example, could take Google into all sorts of new directions. But tweaking the algo to fix this brand boost/jamming thing? Probably smarter to spend that money on pushing Google+ or just continuing refining the machine learning part of the algo.
TOI is correct that if Google as a *company* succumbs to "just doing slightly better than the competition" thinking, they'll die. But what about Google Search, specifically? Does Google even know precisely what it needs to be, to be the best in 5 years? I think there are multiple possibilities, and the least likely is that Search's current business model - being the algorithmic gateway to the entire web - will continue to dominate. Search NEEDS to evolve into something entirely new, so why concentrate on fixing the old algo, if it's working "well enough" and Google's resources are better spent on other things? (And don't forget the driverless cars and so on.)