Dec 042011

Search engines have come a long way since the web has come into existence. First search engines were implemented as a means to catalog various websites hosted by a certain domain name. Very quickly this practice became outdated as there were too many websites, and too much content for someone to find a certain search result. Then search engines started indexing various websites in a way that basically gave mirror images of what content was being displayed and where. This allowed many other search engines to crawl into the market and compete for popularity.

Then something interesting happened. Because search results were based on how many times a set of keywords showed up in content and not popularity, you could not ever be sure that you would be seeing the best results possible without searching through extensive amount of pages. This is where Google came in with the innovative idea of PageRank. This is based on the premise that sites will link to others based on the fact they they have something of value. Before Google, sites would manually link to each other to spread the word about one another. This let Google’s results become much better for the user, and their popularity flourished because of it.

The founders of Google Larry Page and Sergey Brin based Google on the fact that a profit driven search engine would provide biased results. They then offered a free service that gave great results and over the years captured an overwhelming amount of the market. Since then, they have become one of the most profitable companies as well as the number one ranked website in the world. They make astronomical profits, and in recent years have been at the center of numerous speculations saying that they are extremely biased. I don’t want to dive deep into the biased accusations that they have received but just a few of them are as follows; Youtube ranking first for every video search. Linkedin profiles outranking Facebook profiles. Large advertisements at the top of the SERP’s. Those are just a few, but this is starting to take a toll on their popularity. It isn’t taking a large toll, but they have lost close to 2% of their market share over the past year. Two percent of search, is big if you are to simply look at the number of Google users.

The problem is that Google is making things rank first which much of the time isn’t relevant. Meaning that, any subsidiary of Google will rank first before what I like to call the “real SERP’s.” For example, typing in “books” into the search bar, will render you two Google products out of the first four including one that is in the advertisements. Books is not the only example, you can try a number of things and see results like this.

A new search engine that is attempting to solve this problem is Blekko. At Blekko they believe that a one size fits all search engine model does not work. They work based on the idea that they will weed out biased websites such as, or as websites that provide no value – such as malware or spam. You can even use a slashtag to weed out things you are not concerned with. For example if you were to type in “Barrack Obama/gossip” Blekko will automatically exclude any content that may be deemed as gossip.  They also aim to implement a greater layer of privacy. Blekko is however still based on an algorithmic approach ranking pages with links, which makes a link building service so valuable. Every SEO Company will be happy to hear that. This keeps webmasters happy and gives the user the ability to customize search all in one. This is all done without Google’s biased results. Google’s results are even leading to less websites being visited. In a recent study done by Experian Hitwise, they studied the “success rate” of searches sampled in July 2011. While Yahoo and Bing showed 80% of users visiting a webpage after a search, Google’s success rate was just under 68%.

In all fairness Google does have a lot of aspects that some search engines cannot compete with. For example they have mail, documents, maps, and even a social network now. The problem is with their search. A site like Blekko arguably has a better set of search results than Google. The problem is that Google has such an overwhelming market share that it could take a long time before people switch to a different search engine. Some internet users even use IE6 to this day, which is extremely incompatible, and came out in 2001. Even still, Blekko does have some great features, and certainly has an unbiased approach – they are simply lacking all the other tools that Google has provided and users have become so accustomed too. The internet is still young, and unless Google makes some changes regarding their search, they might just be passed up one day.

This article was written by Ben Anderson. Ben in as SEO consultant who offers a custom SEO Quote to all companies.

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