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BBC Launches search engine

     
8:03 pm on May 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

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As mentioned here a few months ago, the BBC has launched it's own search engine.
[bbc.co.uk...]

Our search service isn't here to make any money, so our results are the ones that best match your search words - not the ones advertisers want you to see.
9:43 am on May 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Oh wonderful!!!!!!!!! With all the crap filtered out my positions are almost perfect! Lovely.
9:58 am on May 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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It is Google but contains only about two thirds of their pages as far as I can see.

I checked for "mysite" and it lists approx. 60% of mysite's pages.

Same if you search for webmasterworld in Google (7150 results) and check it with this bbc thing (5780 results).

9:58 am on May 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Yes, it's English-language Google (at last) - as opposed to "compete-against-the-world" google.com or localised country editions. Makes a big difference on some travel searches.
10:03 am on May 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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looks like google to me. rankings look pretty identical, even dropped sites are missing!
11:14 am on May 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Wonder if they'll start running AdWords?
11:25 am on May 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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>> Wonder if they'll start running AdWords? <<

No chance. For those who are unaware of the nature of the BBC, it is not commercial and does not accept any advertising. It is public service only.

This is probably why there is no 'Powered by Google' logo.

I hope they really embrace this... give it it's own URL, promote it via other media channels, etc. They could do a great job for everyone.

11:40 am on May 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Mate, there is advertising on BBC World.
11:45 am on May 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Yep, there is quite a bit actually on the 'outside uk' channels.

But as this is aimed at the uk market I shouldn't think there's any chance of ads of any kind getting in.

Hooray! :)

11:52 am on May 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Yes... it's hosted on a co.uk
12:01 pm on May 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Theoretically, if I get booted from Google, I can get a discount on my mandatory TV license yes? :)
12:03 pm on May 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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""it should serve as a warning to commercial search..." - Napoleon "

Don't assume the BBC won't comercialise in the future. Their not for profit ethos only applies to TV advertising. The BBC has been generating huge incomes for some years selling Videos and re-runs. Its mandate does not prevent a commercial search taking over - infact its mandate says that it SHOULD consider revenue generating models if it is in the British taxpayer's interest... just not "advertising". PPC is a grey area on this one that could go either way.

12:58 pm on May 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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>>Results are the same than Google with English as "search
>>language" in the preferences and "any language" "any
>>country" in the Language Tools.

not quite wolfy, i've checked that and there are still sites missing from the bbc

vitaplease could be right - bbc search only has about 2/3rds of google listings

1:15 pm on May 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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you mean

the BBC has launched its own search engine.

1:59 pm on May 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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That would be the point of this discussion, yes.
9:09 pm on May 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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No swearing?

"Sorry

This search may produce some results that could be considered offensive.

If you wish to continue with this search you could try another Web search engine. You can find information about these at BBC Webwise.

If we have blocked a search word you think should be available, please let us know using the Feedback form."

Great stuff though, go go BBC!

11:09 am on May 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Wow I am already seeing referrals from the BBC.

Good old auntie Beeb.

I don't mind paying my TV licence now! ;}

Stickymaster.

12:41 pm on May 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

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>I don't mind paying my TV licence now

Wait until they have a few hundred spammy URL's and youre site gets droppped forever ;) I wonder what the mechanisms are involving tax payers money here, cos its not trivial at all in longview mode ;)

1:32 am on May 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Just an update for those overseas. All day today (and especially before and after the FA Cup final) the Beeb has been running advertisements for its search service between programmes. This should certainly help drive more users to their search.

The thing I like is also the thing that concerns me. You see, google always used to give more web-savvy referrals. People who'd been online long enough to learn that search didn't begin and end with Yahoo! or Lycos or whatever other portal was currently being advertised. Google was only known through word-of-mouth and thus by more serious users. Now that the beeb is getting google results out to the newbies and less-wise, this could dramatically change the demographics, and thus cause me to rethink some of my strategies.

Anyone else thinking along those lines and beyond the "woohooo, more traffic" stuff?

Ammon Johns

3:18 am on May 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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This is *definitely* Google with a filter. Each page of my site carries a clock script which shows exactly when it was spidered as part of the search result. The timestamps on my BBC results are identical to those on Google, right down to the minute.

This brings up an interesting topic, why is Google allowing them access to their database without any credit or reference to them? The Beeb is non-commercial, but that doesn't mean they can't spend money on resources, so maybe they've spent an awful lot on a brand-free Google. What is Google getting out of all this?

-gibbergibber

(Incidentally, BBC World is the only BBC channel that runs adverts because of an obscure compromise reached with the UK foreign office which funds it directly, like its radio cousin the World Service. The rest of the BBC is funded separately and forbidden from carrying ads.)

5:52 am on May 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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The main difference I can see is that you get recent results along with some realy old pages... very strange almost as if they have spidered on top of an old index. They still have links to some of my pages that where removed 2 months ago???
9:34 am on May 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Black_Knight,

I agree - with BBC and AOL now getting some of the Google pie, the experienced user/newbie ratio will shift somewhat.

This could be a good thing for B2C sites which have always claimed better conversion ratio from the MSN and AOL newbie traffic.

Don't wish to by cynical, but for many sites more newbies=more sales

It seems that the typical Google owner looks at a bagful of sites before buying, whereas some of the newbies have their credit cards in their hands before they turn on the computer.

12:54 pm on May 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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-- Google was only known through word-of-mouth and thus by more serious users. Now that the beeb is getting google results out to the newbies and less-wise, this could dramatically change the demographics, and thus cause me to rethink some of my strategies. --

I don't quite see what you're getting at. You'll still have all the serious users you had before, only there'll be some newbies alongside them. Yes, this'll make the overall ratio of advanced users smaller, but the *number* of advanced users will stay the same or even increase. I can't think of any plausible scenario where your site would suffer because of more newbies using google or BBC search. Ratio does not equal volume.

Are you saying that there will be advanced users who will say "oh no, newbies are using this search engine, I'm not going to use it any more!"?

-- Don't wish to by cynical, but for many sites more newbies=more sales --

But if you're not interested in selling to newbies, why does this matter? And what's wrong with selling to newbies anyway?

-gibbergibber

1:19 pm on May 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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One possible drawback could be this:

If you have designed your site with version 6 browsers in mind as your content is primarily of interest to experienced pc savvy users and all of a sudden you start getting a load of version 4/5 users and the site stinks.

Bit of a lame scenario as there is little excuse to have a site that doesn't function in older browsers but it illustrates a point.

Another one would be if you've designed with advanced users in mind in terms of navigation and newbies find it harder to get around.

Just a thought :-)

knoplix

5:32 pm on May 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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yes i was reading about this last week in web user.

(edited by: 4eyes at 7:10 pm (utc) on May 5, 2002)

knoplix - see stickymail (top of screen)

(edited by: 4eyes at 7:11 pm (utc) on May 5, 2002)

7:15 pm on May 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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The BBC have also just started to push their web search on telly this w/e.

Nothing like a good bit of competition I say!

It's not as if Beeb.com took off as a major shopping channel despite it's links with the BBC, so if they can make a web search take off over and above Google, then good luck to them (chance??!!)

7:33 pm on May 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Well the results are google, if filtered.

Chances? Huge, certainly in the UK anyway. They have the perfect platform to promote from and I think the public trust the BBC so I'd predict success.

8:12 pm on May 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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But if you're not interested in selling to newbies, why does this matter? And what's wrong with selling to newbies anyway?

Don't understand - happy to sell to newbies, always have been.

It matters because MSN, AOL etc have more newbies at the moment. MSN costs money via Overture, Inktomi and Looksmart.

Some of my customers sites have hundreds of pages - all of which get top ten positions on Google. Very few of these pages are listed on MSN unless I pay one or all of the the triumvirate.

If more newbies use BBCi I get more valuable traffic for less dosh:)

12:16 am on May 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Let me try to explain how it can matter.

Imagine you are a salesman at a car showroom. Do you pitch the same model of car in the exact same way to all customers? Nope, a good salesman looks to identify the key interests of the prospective customer from whatever clues they can gather. They sell its low price and fuel economy to those concerned about budget. They sell the speed, accelleration and horsepower to those who care most for that. It is about showing how the product meets the prospective customer's needs and desires.

This is much harder to do via SEO, but is still perfectly possible, using a mixture of demographics and the search terms used to identify the primary interests of the customer. PPC makes this easy, allowing you to specify a tailored 'landing' page for each search term. I use this successfully, and have done for some time, but I learned this idea before PPC, in traditional SEO.

Additionally, certain products get their best conversion rates only from newer users. This is especially true with productivity tools, and also with promoting portal sites, or even search engines. People find their own in time. Targeting newer users who haven't yet already found and tried the product, or a rival product, is where the money is.

When Yahoo started using Google results for its Web Pages search results instead of Inktomi, this created the exact same situation I am asking about again. The pages I'd designed to specifically appeal to newer users had been the ones I'd promoted in Inktomi (optimised for Ink), but the pages designed to appeal to more advanced, knowledgable users were the ones I'd optimised for Google, and suddenly were getting loads of Yahoo users there.

It made a notable difference to conversion rates, and I had to simplify some of my copy, making it more open to absolute newbies, who will be far more likely to use Yahoo. Sure, it was just a 1 percent drop in conversions initially, and after tweaking the copy I found a balance that reduced that to only a 0.5 percent drop over the original. The trade off was that actual hits to the page doubled, and more than offset the drop in conversion rates, but of course, hits to my Ink-optimized pages dropped off a long way.

Does this help explain my concern and my question?

Ammon Johns

3:22 am on May 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the very clear explanation Black Knight.

It has even more important implications for AdWords advertisers too, as we are talking about pay per click there as well. Basically our Adwords campaigns now are based on what we think the Google demographic is - b2b, internet-experienced professionals. We use other PPC or submissions for products and services for other dempgraphics like consumers. For example Google costs us more per click than Overture, but we justify it based on better targeting and therefore higher ROI. Now with Adwords going on AOL, the benefit of a braoder exposure may not be a benefit at all, but a decrease in our ROI. We will be paying for AOL clicks as well of course, but the TYPE of people clicking may be less likely to buy.

There is a way out with AdWords though I think. You can opt to not have your campaigns featured on partner sites.

2:07 am on May 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Excellent points about AdWords, chiyo, and again, concerns I echo. The beauty of PPC is the ability to so perfectly target your advertising. Google's AdWords was previously a perfect example, allowing ads to be targeted not only to specific words, but also to geographic location or language preference.

I really hope that Google will now look hard at allowing further refinements to selection. Not just in whether or not to show AdWords on partner sites, but to allow advertisers to select which partner sites to include or exclude. In fact, I'd welcome the ability to target ads solely to a specific partner site (e.g. AOL) and not on main Google.com searches, etc.

Hope GoogleGuy is still around and taking notes. :)

Ammon Johns

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