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Google, Blog Search and You

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Google, Blog Search and You

Google, Blog Search and You

It would appear, as some have speculated, that Google is working on just about everything that its hundreds of engineers can sink their intellectual teeth into. Today, for example, Google launched blog search from both its Blogger site and from a separate URL (same results) available under the “more” link that takes users into the rapidly proliferating “Google Services” area of the site.

Results aren’t limited to Blogger but attempt to be comprehensive. Google said that, at launch (in beta), its blog search is available in eight languages other than English. Right now, results are separate from Google’s main search results, but I would expect the company will seek to integrate more blog search results into its main results over time.

Right now there are no ads that will appear on Google’s blog search results. However, clearly the door is open.

Google now joins Technorati, Intelliseek’s new-and-improved BlogPulse, Ask’s Bloglines and others – Yahoo! is testing blog search – in seeking to mine content from the mushrooming Blogosphere (add echo sound effect). Thus it would appear that blogs are indeed a new front in the so-called “search wars.”

Technorati has said that the number of blogs is doubling every five months. comScore reports that 50 million U.S. Internet users visited blog sites in the first quarter of 2005, roughly 30 percent of all U.S. Internet users. BlogPulse identifies over 16 million blogs as of this morning.

comScore also reports that blog readers live in wealthier households, are younger, have high-speed connections, conduct e-commerce and spend more time online.

This post could go on and on, depending on my coffee intake, and are lots of things one might say about the emerging competitive blog search landscape.

One might compare the comprehensiveness of the blog search indexes (which, because of their nature, are updated faster than the general search indexes) or the features they offer, and so on. But my interest is in the content contained on blogs (organizing that content for consumers is another session at ILM:05 in November).

Blogs aren’t inherently local. But they are an increasingly important source of news, product/shopping information, opinion about all manner of things and, yes, local content. A few quick searches I did on Google’s blog search site (and others) reveals there’s a wealth of local information about such questions as where to find New York-style pizza in Paris, renting condos in Kauai, finding the best sushi in San Francisco, locating dog parks in Houston, etc.

Blogs are indexed now in general search results, but the search algorithms may not fully reflect all the content out there—they might not find the one personal blog that discusses a recent vacation to Costa Rica and where the best beaches are—or reflect that content in the most timely way. In fact, because of the culture of blogging and the nature of blogs, their content may be more relevant and up to date than similar content that might otherwise be found on more formal Web sites.

And as many people use blogs instead of “traditional” Web sites (including certain SMEs, potentially), blogs become not just another information source, but a parallel universe of content that needs to be made accessible to everybody, not just the early adopters.

Stand-alone blog search is certainly one way to accomplish that. But finding a more complete way to integrate blogs into general Web search results will make that content more widely available. Most people aren’t going to search in both a general search engine and then a specialized blog search engine for the same content.

By the same token, there are arguments to be made for keeping blog content separate. iMedia’s Kevin Ryan wrote a column some time ago about how all the specialized results were threatening to clutter up search results pages and diminish relevance and the user experience.

Given users’ inclinations to look at only the first page of search results, the UI (and its limited “inventory”) starts to become a challenging problem. But however blog content is captured, indexed and presented, blogs are no longer a novelty or curiosity. Blogs are an important content creation and distribution channel that everyone needs to take seriously.

Indeed, Act I of “The Blog Story” is now over. I’ll be interested to see how Act II unfolds.

Greg Sterling is managing editor of The Kelsey Group. He also leads The Kelsey Group’s the Interactive Local Media program, focusing on local search. Greg came to The Kelsey Group from TechTV’s “Working the Web,” the first national television show dedicated to e-business and the Internet.

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