Alternatives to Google

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Alternatives to Google

  1. 1. Alternatives to Google Dirk Lewandowski Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Department of Information, Germany dirk.lewandowski@haw-hamburg.de http://www.searchstudies.org/dirk @Dirk_Lew Lund University, March 18, 2014
  2. 2. Outline 1.  Web search today 2.  Results presentation and selection 3.  Alternative search engines 4.  Conclusion
  3. 3. 1. Web search today
  4. 4. Web Search today •  Everyone uses search engines (Purcell, Brenner & Raine, 2012; van Eimeren & Frees, 2012) •  Search is huge à More than 175 billion queries in a single month (ComScore data, December 2012) •  Search is everywhere: News, video, maps, e-commerce, mobile, apps, etc. •  Web search market is dominated by Google (especially in Europe) (ComScore data) •  Users rely on –  Google’s method of ordering results –  Google’s method of collecting data à Using the internet – Using search engines – using Google à If Google hasn’t seen it — and indexed it — or kept it up to date, it can’t be found with a search query.
  5. 5. Search engines’ business model •  Ads, ads, ads •  Approx. 83% of Google‘s revenues come from ads (Q4/2013) Google Quarterly Earnings Summary Q3/2013, http://investor.google.com/pdf/2013Q4_google_earnings_slides.pdf
  6. 6. What about the alternatives to Google? •  Many “seems to be” search engines –  Accessing the data of another search engine –  Representing nothing more than an alternative user interface to one of the more well-known engines –  In many cases, that turns out to be Google –  E.g., in Germany, we can see that the major internet portals T-Online, GMX, AOL, and web.de all display results obtained from Google
  7. 7. Partner model •  “Real” search engine providers such as Google and Bing operate their own search engines but also provide their search results to partners •  All the major web portals have now embraced this model. •  Income through ads; revenue-sharing •  Attractiveness of the model –  The search engine provider encounters only minimal costs –  The operator of the portal no longer needs to go to the great expense of running its own search engine. –  The partner index model has served to thin out the competition in the search industry.
  8. 8. 2. Results presentation and selection
  9. 9. Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) •  Four main areas: –  Organic results –  Navigational elements, drill-down menus, etc. –  Advertisements –  Knowledge Graph •  Perception of SERPs –  Above the fold –  Below the fold
  10. 10. Changes in the results presentation 1.  List-based results presentation –  Well-established reading behaviour, from top to bottom 2.  Universal Search –  Still list-based, but additional elements –  Results are not presented in the same way anymore; graphical elements influence users results perception and their selection behaviour 3.  Direct answers, factual information –  List-based presentation has less influence –  Results are not necessarily links to documents, but also direct answers (no need to leave the search engine to get a result)
  11. 11. xxxx •  xxxx
  12. 12. (Granka et al. 2004)
  13. 13. xxxx •  xxxx
  14. 14. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) •  The aim of search engine optimization is to increase the visibility of certain documents in the Web search engines •  SEO has a positive and negative effect, as well •  Focus of SEO changes from purely commercial to relevant informational content: –  SEO for news –  SEO for NGOs, public relations, and government institutions –  Academic SEO
  15. 15. Case study: Vertical search •  Google Shopping –  Index based on data feeds from merchants –  Since 2013, pay-for-inclusion model •  Results from a study on Google’s proposal in the E.U. competition investigation (2013) –  Representative, click-based study in four countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain) –  1,000 respondents per country
  16. 16. Google Shopping results Google Ads Information icon with hover text Information icon with hover text Organic results Clickable areas Rival links 20 Lewandowski, D.; Sünkler, S.: Representative online study to evaluate the commitments proposed by Google as part of EU competition investigation AT.39740-Google - Report for Germany http://www.bui.haw-hamburg.de/fileadmin/user_upload/lewandowski/google-reports/Google_Online_Survey_DE.pdf
  17. 17. Total number of clicks: 1000 Number of clicks on shopping results and links to rival offerings: 642 Most of the clicks were on organic results and Google Shopping results (93%). 593 clicks (59.3%) 0 clicks (0%) 358 clicks (35.8%) 49 clicks (4.9%) Logged clicks 23 Lewandowski, D.; Sünkler, S.: Representative online study to evaluate the commitments proposed by Google as part of EU competition investigation AT.39740-Google - Report for Germany http://www.bui.haw-hamburg.de/fileadmin/user_upload/lewandowski/google-reports/Google_Online_Survey_DE.pdf
  18. 18. Task 1: DSLR camera (desktop layout) 1 Germany France Spain Italy Distribution of clicks (n = 1000 for each country) Google Shopping Results 593 (59.3%) 667 (66.7%) 587 (58.7%) 632 (63.2%) Organic Results 358 (35.8%) 279 (27.9%) 410 (41%) 289 (28.9%) Rival Links 49 (4.9%) 54 (5.4%) 3 (0.3%) 79 (7.9%) Lewandowski, D.; Sünkler, S.: Representative online study to evaluate the commitments proposed by Google as part of EU competition investigation AT.39740-Google - Report for Germany http://www.bui.haw-hamburg.de/fileadmin/user_upload/lewandowski/google-reports/Google_Online_Survey_DE.pdf
  19. 19. Total number of clicks: 1000 Number of clicks on shopping results and links to rival offerings: 620 Most of the clicks were on organic results and Google Shopping results (79.8%). Google’s second proposal (version a) 418 clicks (41.8%) 380 clicks (38%) 202 clicks (20.2%) 0 clicks (0%)
  20. 20. Google’s second proposal (version b)
  21. 21. Total number of clicks: 1000 Number of clicks on shopping results and links to rival offerings: 589 Most of the clicks were on organic results and Google Shopping results (83.4%). Google’s second proposal (version b) 423 clicks (42.3%) 411 clicks (41.1%) 166 clicks (16.6%) 0 clicks (0%)
  22. 22. http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2014/03/google-shopping-panel-nest1.jpg
  23. 23. Interplay between search engines and their users •  Problems arising from –  Users not being aware of the possibilities search engines offer –  Users not knowing how search engines work –  Users not knowing about search engines’ business models •  Problems arising from the market dominance of one search engine –  Influence of the results presentation –  Influence of search engine optimization –  Collection and tracking of user data à On the one hand, we have to increase users’ information literacy. On the other hand, we need to increase diversity on the search market
  24. 24. 3. Alternative search engines
  25. 25. The simple answer: There is no perfect search engine •  Web Indexing –  New, changed, deleted document –  “Holy grail” of keeping the index complete and current Risvik, K. M., & Michelsen, R. (2002). Search engines and web dynamics. Computer Networks, 39(3), 289–302.
  26. 26. Freshness of Web search engines (see Lewandowski, Wahlig & Meyer-Bautor, 2006; Lewandowski, 2008)
  27. 27. Why is one search engine not enough? •  No one search engine covers the whole of the Web –  Index size and index freshness –  Integration of Facebook content in Bing; Google+ content in Google •  We need more than one search engine to ensure that a broad range of opinions are represented in the search market. •  Users should have the choice between different worldviews which originate as a product of algorithm-based search result generation •  Ideology-free search algorithms are simply not possible
  28. 28. Alternative Search Engines •  What constitutes an “alternative search engine”? –  All search engines that are not Google (e.g., Bing) –  Meta-search engines (e.g., Dogpile, Metager) –  Search engines which explicitly position themselves as an alternative to Google through a regional approach (e.g., Seekport) –  New approaches to search / “Real alternatives”: Alternative approaches to gathering and representing web content à  Only a few noteworthy alternatives: mainly Bing, but some to watch à  Yandex à  Duck Duck Go
  29. 29. Economic perspective •  Only the largest internet companies are able to afford large indexes. •  Microsoft is the only company besides Google to possess a comprehensive search engine index. •  Yahoo gave up on its own index several years ago •  It appears as though operating a dedicated index is attractive to practically no one — and there are hardly any candidates with the necessary financial resources in any case
  30. 30. Vision •  “An index of the web that can be accessed at fair conditions for everyone” –  “Everyone” means that anyone who is interested can access the index. –  “Fair conditions” does not mean that access to the index must be free of charge for everyone. A certain number of document requests per day should be available at no cost in order to promote non-profit projects. –  “Access” to the index can be defined as the ability to automatically query the index with ease. –  The concept “index of the web” is intended to cover as much of the web as possible
  31. 31. 4. Conclusion
  32. 32. #1 The current market dominance of Google leads to only one of many possible views on the Web’s information.
  33. 33. #2 The market failed in establishing alternatives to Google.
  34. 34. #3 Results presentation heavily influences users’ perception of the results, and their selection behaviour, as well.
  35. 35. #4 An independent index of the Web would motivate companies, institutions, and developers to create their own search applications.
  36. 36. #5 An independent index of the Web would enable applications we are not yet capable of even imagining.
  37. 37. Thank you Prof. Dr. Dirk Lewandowski Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften Hamburg dirk.lewandowski@haw-hamburg,de Twitter: Dirk_Lew http://www.searchstudies.org/dirk

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