Why Microsoft BrowseRank Will Fail Too
CNET has posted an article on Microsoft’s newest attempt to challenge Google for more of the search share market. Microsoft will be launching a new toolbar called BrowseRank. If you don’t want to read the whole article, here the gist of it:
Microsoft likes the results BrowseRank, which assigning Web page priority based on how people actually use the site. (Credit: Microsoft Research A Asia)
Essentially, the researchers tested out a system that replaces PageRanks’ link graph–a mathematical model of the hyperlinked connections of the Internet–with what they call a user browsing graph that ranks Web pages by people’s behavior.
“The more visits of the page made by the users and the longer time periods spent by the users on the page, the more likely the page is important. We can leverage hundreds of millions of users’ implicit voting on page importance”
The key takeaway here is that Microsoft, like Nielsen, wants to change the paradigm of how a page should be considered relevant from web pages link to your site and the importance of those linking pages to how much time a user spends on a page.
Granted PageRank is not perfect, but measuring a site’s importance and relevance by the time a user spends on it, is a worse idea. All that will really do is encourage the web community to regress back to 1995. We’ll all build sites so complex and convoluted that it will take every single user 10 minutes to find what they want. And by BrowseRank standard, all my sites will be excellent because users spend tons of time wandering around on them.
And, I can see Microsoft’s point with measuring TOS (time on site), it must mean that my site has compelling content and information. But, as you’ll see below, Plurker beagooddad made some great points:
While I couldn’t find any exact numbers on how many users actually use Live Search, it’s safe to say it’s considerably less than Google (based on current market share of search traffic). And, with lower population data, how valid will these results be? While I’m sure TOS won’t be the ONLY factor MS considers, having that piece as the cornerstone of your algorithm seems to completely invalidate BrowseRank for me.
Once again, Microsoft is a “Johnny-come-lately” in the area of web innovation. And, this effort, while valiant, is doomed to fail as all the rest of the MS search endeavors have. And, we know that if Yahoo ever builds a web page relevance toolbar, it’ll be nearly as solid as Google’s and really offer some competition. But, we’ll have to wait and see how the community, and the general populous, takes to the new BrowseRank Toolbar.
Become A Complete Marketer for Search 4.0
This post stems from something SlightlyShady mentioned in his post about Where SEO and Google Will Be in the Next 5 Years“. (On a side note: SlightlyShady has his finger on the pulse and tends to very straightforward, frank conversations about the Search Marketing Industry. Moreover, I’d just like to give him a quick shout-out, say “thanks” and keep the veritas coming.)
So here’s what struck my attention in the post:
The only way to get above the map results(definitely a click killer) is to…..pay for a PPC listing. Now, SEOs are not PPC experts(largely).
It’s not far from the truth. SEOs are not PPC experts, but they should be and they could be. And, to be frank, it’s the only sure-fire way to build solid goal conversions for clients:
SEO in combination with PPC
- SEO is (in most cases) for the long-haul. Most clients come to us without optimization, without knowing what it is or how it’s done. While the rules of SEO have changed in the past 2 years (thanks to the advent of social networks and media sites), the standards remain the same:
- On-site optimization of as much content as you can effect.
- Off-site link building campaigns: Paid, Free, Corporate Partners
- New ways to generate fresh, engaging content on the website
- PPC is, in my estimation, an excellent and reliable quick strike tool. It’s for the instant impact clients’ need to have to build brand awareness and site traffic while the SEO portion builds solid content and backlinks.
- It’s my opinion that PPC spends should increase after 3 months. By that time, SEO efforts should be bearing fruit in organically, and you’ll have plenty of data to weed out the non-performers and boost the high CTR and conversion-producers. Why increase?
- Because if you do a good job on-site for your best converting keywords and long-tails, you’ll increase your Google Quality Score and be able to achieve the same position at a lower cost.
Will This Technique Matter in 3 Years?
The question is, do I really believe this is going to work anymore? For the time being, yes, I do. I think SEOs and Search Marketers have about 2 and half to 3 years before the shift happens. Danny Sullivan wrote a very extensive and informative post on SEL about Search 4.0. I think we’ve got just about that timeframe before personalized search turns SERPs and SEO on it’s head.
How To Compete After Google RE-Invents Search
And, I guess, to echo the sentiment, I think SEO will survive that semi-apocalypse. Because, as we all know, there are companies and sites that really need help, even with the basics. However, I believe it will become about each engine’s proprietary/purchased applications. For Google: FeedBurner, Local Business Center, AdWords, Reader, Base, YouTube, FriendFeed (not exactly owned by Google, but probably will be), FriendConnect, etc. I don’t expect Google’s numbers in search domination to drop anytime in the near future, more than likely never. Just look at the latest numbers (thanks to SEL)
I think the only way for Yahoo to survive is to team-up (read “be bought in a hostile takeover”) with Microsoft. And, let’s face it, Microsoft needs help with search and Paid Ads solutions. They’ve always been a “Johnny-Come-Lately” with every application (yes, even Webmaster Center and Local Live). And, while Yahoo also isn’t up to snuff on the Paid Ads, their search capability and seeming transparency (Search commands: there is a reason that we all use Yahoo! to find the true number of anything on the web) is something Microsoft needs to latch on to in order to have a snowball’s chance in hell against Google.
Right now, I’m advising my whole team to get familiar with every application Google has to offer. Know the ins and outs of each application. And as for AdWords, well, it’s taking over. My prediction is that before the year’s end, Yahoo will be delivering over 25% of Google Ads. And, two years from now, if they haven’t teamed up with Microsoft, they’ll be over 75% Google Ads. And in 3 years, Sponsored Search/Panama will be nothing but a sad memory, a failed experiment swallowed by Google.
The new way to compete, and I hate to admit it, will be GRAY SEO. Personalized search is going to force everyone to find the shadow-advantages to be the MOST RELEVANT web page in a particular niche. So that, the woman in New Mexico and the guy in Montana both see your client as the one of the most relevant pages for the search they’re conducting. To compete, Search Marketers will have to be savvy in all things, not simply SEO, because SEO as we know it today just won’t exist. It’s going to be a hybrid, a chimera of each engines’ applications.
Microsoft to partner with UW-Madison
Announced in late April, Microsoft will be partnering with the University of Wisconsin-Madison to open up an Advanced Data Lab, The Jim Gray Systems Lab, in downtown Madison. David DeWitt, professor emeritus of computer science, will be heading up the new data lab. Interestingly, the intellectual property derived directly from the lab will belong to Microsoft, but the students involved will retain the right to freely use the research results in an academic setting. While this is probably S.O.P. (standard operating procedure), as many pharmaceutical and oil companies garner the same bargain, it could certainly help Microsoft catch up in the technology arms race.
What the Lab Aims to Accomplish:
The lab’s primary focus in Madison will be to explore novel database system architectures that will be able to support massive data centers, which DeWitt believes could make research in domains like medicine and large-scale research more productive. New database technology could also dramatically reduce the cost of analyzing data. DeWitt said that at the core of Microsoft’s vision is the ability to give users real-time access to the most up-to-date data — even going beyond facts and figurers, but including new data types such as X-rays, videos and even spatial content.
Google Opening Up Shop in Madison:
Reported today, Google will be opening up a 5,000 sq ft. office building in Madison. Not much more is known at this time, but I have contacted Google about its plans for this office. I will update this post when I know more.
Follow-up From Danny Sullivan:
I reached out to Danny Sullivan about this, to see if he knew anymore about what the Google Office would be focusing on. Danny said, “Nothing offhand. They open so many offices and often there’s nothing that special about them.”
So that’s the word from Search Engine Land and Danny. It’s just another Pod for Google.