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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
Outline
1.  Web search today
2.  Results presentation and selection
3.  Alternative search engines
4.  Conclusion
1. Web search today
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.
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
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
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.
2. Results presentation and selection
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
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)
xxxx
•  xxxx
(Granka et al. 2004)
xxxx
•  xxxx
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
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
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
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
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
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%)
Google’s second proposal (version b)
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%)
http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2014/03/google-shopping-panel-nest1.jpg
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
3. Alternative search engines
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.
Freshness of Web search engines
(see Lewandowski, Wahlig & Meyer-Bautor, 2006; Lewandowski, 2008)
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
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
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
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
4. Conclusion
#1
The current market dominance of Google
leads to only one of many possible views on
the Web’s information.
#2 The market failed in establishing
alternatives to Google.
#3
Results presentation heavily influences
users’ perception of the results, and their
selection behaviour, as well.
#4
An independent index of the Web would
motivate companies, institutions, and
developers to create their own search
applications.
#5
An independent index of the Web would
enable applications we are not yet capable
of even imagining.
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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Alternatives to Google

  • 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. Outline 1.  Web search today 2.  Results presentation and selection 3.  Alternative search engines 4.  Conclusion
  • 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.
  • 6. 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
  • 7. 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
  • 8. 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.
  • 9. 2. Results presentation and selection
  • 10. 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
  • 11. 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)
  • 13. (Granka et al. 2004)
  • 15.
  • 16. 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
  • 17. 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
  • 18. 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
  • 19. 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
  • 20. 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
  • 21. 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%)
  • 23. 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%)
  • 25. 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
  • 27. 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.
  • 28. Freshness of Web search engines (see Lewandowski, Wahlig & Meyer-Bautor, 2006; Lewandowski, 2008)
  • 29. 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
  • 30. 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
  • 31. 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
  • 32. 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
  • 34. #1 The current market dominance of Google leads to only one of many possible views on the Web’s information.
  • 35. #2 The market failed in establishing alternatives to Google.
  • 36. #3 Results presentation heavily influences users’ perception of the results, and their selection behaviour, as well.
  • 37. #4 An independent index of the Web would motivate companies, institutions, and developers to create their own search applications.
  • 38. #5 An independent index of the Web would enable applications we are not yet capable of even imagining.
  • 39. Thank you Prof. Dr. Dirk Lewandowski Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften Hamburg dirk.lewandowski@haw-hamburg,de Twitter: Dirk_Lew http://www.searchstudies.org/dirk