Web search engine Stories July 10, 2015

Google fined $16k in Brazil over ‘morbid images’

Google and Facebook have each been slapped with a R$50,000 fine ($16k USD) in Brazil for not removing or blocking morbid images. The move comes after pictures of a Brazilian musician in a mortuary made their way online. Christian Araujo, the artist in question, died alongside his girlfriend in a car crash last month.

The Guardian reports that Judge Denise Gondim de Mendonca declared both companies had acted in “bad faith” after ignoring an earlier ruling. In response to today’s news, Google had the following statement prepared:

The Marco Cilvil of the Internet (local law which regulates removals) requires that any court order for content removal specify the URLs to be removed. In parallel, we have already taken down many of the videos which have been flagged by users due to YouTube’s policies regarding offensive content.

Facebook is yet to comment officially on the ruling, but Google has stated that it will be appealing the decision. In an age where it’s so easy to share any kinds of images online, it brings in to question how much of this can be blamed on Google and how much is down to those who took the photographs or shot the videos to begin with.

Not to be too crude or disrespectful, but I couldn’t think of much worse than someone pulling out their smartphone to snap a picture of my dead body lying in a morgue. The fact the picture is posted online afterwards is more of a side effect, surely?

That’s not to downgrade the severity of the companies supposedly not taking action. As huge corporations, they too have a responsibility to ensure these kinds of images aren’t seen by anyone. It certainly brings in to question where the line should be drawn.

Web search engine Stories June 18, 2015

right-to-be-forgotten1

Google controls most of the search engine market in Europe, and as a result receives most ‘right to be forgotten’ requests, those things where individuals can request the de-listing of links to sensitive information about themselves that are deemed out-dated or irrelevant. But more than half of requests are denied, and of those that are appealed, most of those are too denied – which the European Union says is just fine.

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Web search engine Stories March 25, 2015

File photo shows people walking by a YouTube sign at the new Google office in Toronto

Half of a 2012 FTC report on Google’s business practices has been “inadvertently disclosed” in an open records request by the WSJ. Bizarrely, what was leaked was every other page of the report. MarketingLand’s Danny Sullivan has been busy reading the report and tweeting some of the things revealed by it.

The FTC eventually concluded that Google had not violated antitrust laws by favoring its own services over that of rivals, but found it was “a close call.”

[tweet https://twitter.com/dannysullivan/status/580634396618698752/]

Google did, for example, promote its own services in search results …  expand full story

Web search engine Stories January 16, 2015

Ticket

Performer search left, venue search right

 

If you search for a band or live venue, there’s a high chance it’s because you want to buy tickets for an upcoming show. Google is now making that easier by displaying upcoming events in the search results, with a direct link to purchase tickets.

It may take a few days to start seeing these results, as Google has just explained to webmasters for bands and venues the steps they need to take to ensure the information shows up in searches. They can either add a little HTML to their webpages, or install a widget that does it for them …  expand full story

Web search engine Stories November 27, 2014

google-europe

A European Parliament motion calling for the breakup of Google, separating out the search business from the company’s other activities, has been overwhelmingly approved, reports the WSJ.

In a vote in Strasbourg, 384 legislators voted in favor of the controversial initiative, with 174 against and 56 abstentions […]

“Clear adoption by the EP of Digital Single Market motion, including unbundling for search engine if needed,” tweeted Ramon Tremosa I Balcells, a lawmaker from Spain who backed the proposal.

The vote comes just a day after a separate European call for the controversial ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling to be extended to google.com as well as the European versions of its sites …  expand full story

Web search engine Stories November 24, 2014

s1

If you want to check out what deals are available online before you hit the stores on Black Friday, Google has just made the task a little easier with revamped Google Shopping results.

Google Shopping results now include more detailed product information, customer reviews and show which stores have it in stock. Selected products also have 360-degree views …  expand full story

Web search engine Stories October 20, 2014

piracy

Google has updated its How Google Fights Piracy report with details of its latest moves to remove pirate sites from its search results. A key element is improved automated demotion of sites that have received high numbers of DMCA takedown notices.

In August 2012 we first announced that we would downrank sites for which we received a large number of valid DMCA notices. We’ve now refined the signal in ways we expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites. This update will roll out globally starting [this week].

The “most notorious sites” are likely to include rapidgator.net, filestube.com and dilandau.eu, each of which has, notes Gizmodo, received at least 11 million individual takedown requests …  expand full story

Web search engine Stories July 30, 2014

forgotten

And so the saga continues … In the short time since the EU ruled that individuals have the right to be forgotten when sensitive information found in search results is considered “outdated or irrelevant,” we’ve seen what is probably best described as the makings of a damn good sitcom. (Note to networks: if you make it, I want my ten percent.)

We first had the amusement of deleted links being reported by the media, bringing the stories back into the limelight. We then had Google describing the impossible position in which it has been placed, being asked to make “difficult and debatable judgements” based on “very vague and subjective tests.”

This was followed by the EU rapping Google’s knuckles for doing it wrong, and we now have a bipartisan British governmental committee disagreeing with the EU and agreeing with Google that it is being asked to “enforce the impossible” …  expand full story

Web search engine Stories July 24, 2014

Google-offices-1

The mess and uncertainty created by an European court ruling that individuals have a ‘right to be forgotten‘ by search-engines when sensitive information is deemed to be “outdated or irrelevant” just got worse. Regulators are meeting with Google today to express concerns about the way in which Google has chosen to implement the ruling, reports Business Insider.

Under particular scrutiny is Google’s decision to only remove results from its European search engines, such as google.co.uk, meaning anyone can easily access the hidden information by switching to the widely used google.com […]

Another issue likely to be raised by the EU watchdogs is Google’s decision to notify the owners of the websites that have been removed from search results …

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Web search engine Stories July 21, 2014

reminder

Setting Google Now reminders by voice is all very well when you’re walking down the street, but you can feel just a little self-conscious doing it in an open-plan office or coffee-shop. Google now allows you to add reminders by typing them directly into the searchbar on your laptop, reveals the Google Blog.

You don’t have to use the mobile Google Search app to add reminders. Just search Google for add reminder or create reminder, enter a name, a date or a place. You can also enter specific queries like: add reminder to buy milk tomorrow or create reminder to buy sandwich when I am in Chicago. Just click “remind me on Google Now” …

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Web search engine Stories June 26, 2014

wsj

The WSJ is reporting that Google has begun removing search results following a European court decision that individuals have a right to require Google to remove links to information which is “outdated or irrelevant.”

Following the ruling – known as the ‘right to be forgotten’ – Google created a webpage application and announced that each would be evaluated by hand on a case-by-case basis, balancing the right to privacy against legitimate public interest. The company now says that it has begun acting on these requests …  expand full story

Web search engine Stories June 18, 2014

google-canada

A recent ruling by the European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) ordered Google to remove old web search results that could possibly have a negative impact on a person’s reputation. Often referred to as “the right to be forgotten,” individuals are able to request that “outdated or irrelevant” information about them be purged from the web, but what about non-living entities? Taking its cues from this controversial ruling, a Canadian court has ruled that Google must remove search results for a company’s rival — not only in Canada but around the world.

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Web search engine Stories May 13, 2014

Photo: Associated Press

Photo: Associated Press

The European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that individuals have a right to require Google to remove sensitive information from search results, reports Reuters.

The ruling […] came after a Spanish man complained to the Spanish data protection agency that an auction notice of his repossessed home on Google’s search results infringed his privacy […]

Google says forcing it to remove such data amounts to censorship.

The ruling reflects a 2012 proposal by the EU known as the “right to be forgotten,” in which it was argued that even accurate information may become “outdated or irrelevant” after a period of time has elapsed …  expand full story

Web search engine Stories February 6, 2014

daft-punk-get-lucky-google-search

Finding a playable music video can sometimes involve a bit of trial-and-error, where the top link might be only a short clip, or indeed something unrelated that was mislabelled. To solve this, Google is now offering prioritised links to the first playable music video in a separate box above the remaining search results …  expand full story

Web search engine Stories February 5, 2014

Photo: npr.org

Photo: npr.org

After more than three years of investigations and negotiations, Google and the European Union anti-trust authorities have finally settled the case in which the company was accused of abusing its dominant position in search.

The tl;dr version of the dispute was that Google search results were giving undue prominence to its own services – such as Google News and Google Shopping – and freezing out rivals. Google was eventually given a deadline of 31st January last year to submit proposals on how it would resolve the problem …  expand full story

Web search engine Stories November 18, 2013

Google-Images

Google has done a U-turn on its previous policy of stopping short of directly interfering with search results and is now actively trapping more than 100,000 searches for material which constitutes child abuse, reports UK newspaper the Daily Mail.

The world’s biggest media firm has agreed to introduce changes which will prevent depraved images and videos from appearing for more than 100,000 different searches.

The company’s chairman Eric Schmidt, writing in today’s Daily Mail ahead of a Downing Street summit on internet pornography, says: ‘We’ve listened. We’ve fine-tuned Google Search to prevent links to child sexual abuse material from appearing in our results’ …  expand full story

Web search engine Stories October 1, 2013

plenary

The European Union’s long-running anti-trust case against Google, in which the search company was accused of using its dominant position in search to stifle competition, looks set to finally be resolved – though we may have to wait until Spring to learn the details.

Reuters reports that Google has made new proposals, which the EU suggests is likely to lead to a settlement.

Joaquin Almunia told lawmakers in the European Parliament he believed the new offer made it easier to see Google’s rivals when making an internet search.

“We have reached a key moment in this case,” Almunia said.

“Now with the significant improvements on the table I think we have the possibility to work again.

“If our investigation of this improved proposal is satisfactory then we will continue the commitments route and end up with a formal decision next spring,” he said, adding: “I think that the settlement route remains the best choice” …  expand full story

Web search engine Stories September 25, 2013

Google Search adds related Google+ content for hashtag queries

Google is rolling out a new hashtag experience in Google Search today that will see search results for queries with hashtags display related Google+ posts and content from other social networks:

– When you search on Google for a hashtag, say [#AmericasCup] or [#WaterfallWednesday], a set of relevant Google+ posts may appear to the right of regular results.

– You’ll only be able to see posts that have been shared publicly or shared with you.

– If you click on any of these posts you’ll go to Google+, where you’ll see the full set of relevant posts.

– You’ll also see links to search for these hashtags on other social sites.

The new feature will only be available to English users in the US and Canada initially and will go live on Google.com and Google.ca sometime today.

Web search engine Stories September 9, 2013

Google offering new concessions in EU antitrust case – but neither side saying what they are

The on-going saga of the EU’s anti-trust case against Google, accusing it of using its dominant position in search to block competition, continues with Google making fresh proposals to the Competition Commission.

Google’s initial response was to offer to:

  • clearly separate sponsored links from organic search results, and to link to rival search services
  • allow publishers to choose what content is included in Google’s various search results
  • allow website owners to sell advertising from competitor companies alongside Google ads
  • allow advertisers to manage search advertising campaigns across competing platforms …

After seeking feedback on the proposals from other interested parties (read: Microsoft and others who feel they are unfairly treated), the EU rejected them as not going far enough.

Reuters reports that Google has now offered further concessions, but neither Google nor the EU has yet revealed what these are.

Web search engine Stories December 12, 2012

Google-flight-explorer

As noticed by TNW, Google appears to be testing a new flight search service that differs from its Google Flights offering launched in September of last year. In our tests, the service, dubbed “Flight Explorer”, is fully accessible through www.google.com/flights/explorer, indicating this might be an upcoming refresh of the Google Flights service. Upon navigating to the Flight Explorer page, Google automatically detects your location for the “From” category and selects what appears to be the next closest country in the “To” section.

The service also provides some improvements over Google’s old flights search, allowing users to select the trip length with a slider under their destination, as well as a number of filters along the top, including: Stops, Airline, Duration, Outbound time, and Return Time. While the service appears to be ready to go, clicking links for any flights that show up in the results takes you to a familiar Google Flights page currently. We expect to hear more about Google’s new Flight Explorer service soon.

Web search engine Stories October 15, 2012

Or just go incognito mode.

Web search engine Stories August 10, 2012

Google rolling out new multiple account login page for Gmail

According to a report on TheNextWeb, Google appears to be testing a new Gmail login page that will make it much easier to log in and out of multiple accounts. The current Gmail login page requires users to enter their login information each time they sign in from the login page. The new Gmail page will allow you to add login information for multiple accounts and easily select any account with one click. Keep an eye out for a link at the bottom of the login page to try the new feature.

Google experienced more copyright removal notices for URLs in the last month than it did for all of 2009.

The search engine processed more than 4.3 million URL removal requests in the last 30 days, and it plans to redirect this data as a signal for search rankings. The bevy of infringing Web content spurred Google to take into account valid copyright removal notices for websites to verify its search algorithms yield the highest quality results.

Google elaborated on its Inside Search blog

  • Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results. This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily—whether it’s a song previewed on NPR’s music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed fromSpotify.

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Web search engine Stories July 25, 2012

You may already be aware that Google search provides a calculator that offers answers to queries, such as 2+2 directly, from the main search results page. As pointed out by a reader, Google recently updated the calculator search functionality, and it now provides a full HTML5 scientific calculator for these types of search queries. The features work with voice—except for on mobile devices, as they do not have access to the full scientific calculator presented on desktops.

Earlier this month, Google started to roll out a similar widget on its search page for unit conversions, like inches to centimeters. Now, unit conversion queries are presented with the live unit conversion tool (pictured below) that allows you to switch between units of measurements for temperature, length, mass, speed, digital storage, and much more.

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Web search engine Stories July 23, 2012

As BetaBeat first noticed, Google is attempting to peel back the anonymity cloak that surrounds YouTube.

The search engine, which seems to dabble in all things Web, mobile, and tech, now displays a pop-up box to YouTubers who try to leave a video comment. The notice prompts users to start surfing the video-sharing platform with their full name instead of a username or pseudonym.

Google appears to crop names from Google+ profiles, which is likely a byproduct of the Google+ integration from last year that required all YouTubers to login with their Gmail account credentials.

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Web search engine Stories July 19, 2012

Report: Yahoo’s Search alliance with Microsoft struggles to produce, Google deal looking more plausible

SearchEngineLand’s Danny Sullivan detailed today how Yahoo is not doing so hot with its Microsoft search deal and may soon go searching—no pun intended— for a new partner (a.k.a. Google) if performance doesn’t get better.

Yahoo’s new CEO, Marissa Mayer, a former top-tier Google Search exec, could encourage a partnership between the two polar search engines. On the other hand, Mayer brings a completely new level of knowledge to the fledging Yahoo due to her 13 years in Search with Google, so she could just help Yahoo to revamp Search with improved monetization.

Sullivan predicts some “hard renegotiating between Yahoo and Microsoft, with Google used as a cattle prod for Yahoo to shock Microsoft with.” Of course, we will have to wait and see whether Microsoft delivers on its search promises or if Yahoo will jump ship and snag a Google Search alliance—with Mayer leading the charge.

According to SearchEngineLand:

  • Of course, Yahoo can’t walk away [from Microsoft] without finding another partner, and it has a real shortage of choices. There’s no one left in the US with the proven ability to deliver search queries at the volume Yahoo would demand.
  • Ask.com? It’s largely outsourced to Google these days. Blekko? I’m sure it would love the job, but there would be a huge scaling-up challenge and, I’d say, much more work to do on the relevancy front. Maybe Yandex or Baidu could make a bid?
  • It won’t be Yahoo. Yahoo has lost too much key search talent and hasn’t kept its core search technology up-to-date. When it gave itself over to Microsoft, Yahoo really left itself without a “Plan B.”
  • My post from earlier this week, Ironically, Search Might Be Less A Priority At Yahoo As Google’s Marissa Mayer Takes The Helm, gets into these issues more — as well as the one realistic alternative to Microsoft. Google.

Web search engine Stories July 12, 2012

In a blog post on his Google+ page, Google+ Product Manager Ronald Ho announced a new tool to transfer circles from one account to another that is now available through Google Takeout. In an overview of the long-requested feature, Google explained the tool would migrate “circle names, circle members, “your circles” settings, and people and pages you’ve blocked or ignored.” However, Google noted there is a 7-day waiting period before a transfer is initiated, and both profiles will have limited functionality until the transfer is complete:

-There’s a 7 day waiting period before your transfer begins.

-To cancel the transfer before it starts, sign in to either account on Google+. Then click Cancel transfer at the bottom of the page. Note that you cannot cancel using a mobile interface.

-If the source or destination accounts are managed by an organization, the account administrator may restrict your ability to transfer your connections and/or use Google+.

-You won’t be able to use this tool with these accounts again for 6 months.

-Once the transfer begins, it cannot be cancelled or undone.

As for limited functionality, both accounts will not be able to share content on Google+ during the transfer—nor can they add, remove, block, or ignore people in circles and elsewhere. Google continued by explaining the result of a transfer once complete:

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Web search engine Stories July 11, 2012

Google is expanding its “Search as You Type” feature under Google Commerce Search to U.S.-based AdWords advertisers today as a free, stand-alone service.

“It’s easy to implement and helps increase sales and conversion rates on merchant websites. The Search as You Type pilot is available to US-based AdWords advertisers for free, up to 25 million searches annually, after which licensing fees would apply,” announced Google Shopping Product Management Director Jennifer Dulski on the official Google Commerce blog.

Google’s famous predictive suggestions, auto complete, and related product results are integrated into Search as You Type to bulk a merchant’s existing website search functionality. Today’s announcement supports Google’s recent attempts at enhancing its online retail and search experiences.

“When shoppers type a search query into a merchant’s site, Search as You Type shows them product suggestions and photos, making it faster and easier for people to spot the product they’re looking for and click through to make a purchase,” Dulski explained.

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Web search engine Stories July 2, 2012

Google launched Search by Image last year, and then updated algorithms for it almost every week since, but now the search engine will use its Knowledge Graph to power the popular feature.

Search by Image allows users input an image, and then Google offers images and search results related to that image. Users select an image through the ‘ole drag-and-drop, and then uploading, or even inputting a URL. Meanwhile, the Knowledge Graph is new technology that allows Google to provide search results for concepts linked between words, rather than showing results for just the query term.

Software Engineer Sean O’Malley explained the inclusion on Google’s Inside Search blog today:

With the recent launch of the Knowledge Graph, Google is starting to understand the world the way people do. Instead of treating webpages as strings of letters like “dog” or “kitten,” we can understand the concepts behind these words. Search by Image now uses the Knowledge Graph: if you search with an image that we’re able to recognize, you may see an extra panel of information along with your normal search results so you can learn more. This could be a biography of a famous person, information about a plant or animal, or much more.

Google wants to improve its image search. When a user uploads an image of a specific type of flower, for instance, Google would previously give general flower search results. Now, Google will try to guess the exact type of flower. Google will also show the most recent content in search results, which is helpful for news images.

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Web search engine Stories June 29, 2012

Siri vs Google search in 1600-question street test

As noted by Phillip Elmer-DeWitt at Fortune, Apple analyst Gene Munster published a note to clients today that contained the results of a Siri vs. Google search 1600-question showdown.

While it is not exactly a test of how well the companies’ various voice services stack up against one another (since Google Search queries were typed-in and not spoken), but it is a good indication of just how viable Siri is as an everyday mobile search product and alternative to Google. In the test, both Google and Siri were asked 800 questions in a quiet location. Another 800 questions were asked among the loud street traffic in Minneapolis. The results, according to Fortune:

Web search engine Stories June 26, 2012

Google opens registration to free online course about ‘power searching’

Google just introduced a new online course for those interesting in “power searching” with its search engine.

The free course offers:

  • Six 50-minute classes.
  • Interactive activities to practice new skills.
  • Opportunities to connect with others using Google Groups, Google+, and Hangouts on Air.
  • Upon passing the post-course assessment, a printable Certificate of Completion will be emailed to you.

“Google Search makes it amazingly easy to find information. Come learn about the powerful advanced tools we provide to help you find just the right information when the stakes are high,” explained Google Senior Research Scientist Daniel Russell on the registration page.

Course registration opens today and closes July 16, but the first class starts July 10. New classes begin Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and all course-related activities end July 23.

Check out the schedule below: 

For more information about becoming a “great Internet searcher,” visit the course page at Google Insights.

Web search engine Stories June 12, 2012

Google fine-tunes Hot Searches to showcase only a few top searches

Google just announced that it revamped its Hot Searches feature under Google Trends to better hone results for the most searched and popular news.

Googler Nimrod Tamir described Hot Searches on the Official Google Blog:

With Hot Searches in Google Trends, you can see a list of the fastest rising search terms in the U.S. for a snapshot of what’s on the public’s collective mind. To create the Hot Searches list which is updated on an hourly basis, an algorithm analyzes millions of searches in the U.S. and determines which queries are being searched much more than usual.

The updated section now highlights the key word for queries with rich images and links to related reports for the most searched news in the United States. It also details how many folks Googled each spotlighted tidbit during the last day, while scaling back the amount of content it shows. Google previously displayed 20 results, but now it only shows a few Hot Searches (as indicated in the top image).

The new Hot Searches is live now.

Web search engine Stories June 8, 2012

Google attempted to “set the record straight” today with a blog post aimed to dismantle rising anti-competitive claims against the world’s leading search engine.

The Wall Street Journal published a scathing post yesterday—penned by the CEO of online retailer Nextag—that essentially painted Google as a monopoly. No—Jeff Katz did not paint; he declared:

Google has enjoyed this unrivaled position for nearly a decade. It is the most popular search engine in the world, controlling nearly 82% of the global search market and 98% of the mobile search market. Its annual revenue is larger than the economies of the world’s 28 poorest countries combined. And its closest competitor, Bing, is so far behind in both market share and revenue that Google has become, effectively, a monopoly.

The company has used its position to bend the rules to help maintain its online supremacy, including the use of sophisticated algorithms weighted in favor of its own products and services at the expense of search results that are truly most relevant. […]

At my company, Nextag, a comparison shopping site for products and services, we regularly analyze the level of search traffic we get from Google. It’s easy to see when Google makes changes to its algorithms that effectively punish its competitors, including us. Our data, which we shared with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 21, 2011, shows without a doubt that Google has stacked the deck. And as a result, it has shifted from a true search site into a commerce site—a commerce site whose search algorithm favors products and services from Google and those from companies able to spend the most on advertising.

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Web search engine Stories June 7, 2012

Mozilla Firefox in Russia: DASVIDANIYA Yandex, Hello Google for default search option

Mozilla’s Firefox browser will kick Yandex to the curb this winter in favor of Google as its default search option in Russia.

Yandex became the primary search engine in Russia for Firefox builds roughly three years ago, and it currently sports a 60 percent market share. Their agreement is now set to expire Dec. 31, with Google slated to take the reins. The Mountain View, Calif.-based Company maintains the lead as the world’s dominating search engine; although, it only has a meager 26.5-percent of the market share in Russia.

According to TheNextWeb:

A Yandex spokesperson says they were notified by Mozilla of the imminent change on June 1, and points out that the company will continue to develop and distribute its own Yandex-branded, customised Firefox browser (at least until the end of this year, under the terms of the aforementioned agreement).

The latter version evidently sports Yandex as the default search engine.

Yandex also says Mozilla’s decision will likely not impact its market share in Russia significantly (they estimate a 1.5 percent loss over the next few months).

[…] Yandex adds that the impact on its revenue and profitability will be negligible.

Google and Mozilla’s global, three-year deal allegedly runs around $900 million. The agreement is a win for Google, after Twitter notably teamed with Yandex in February.

The microblogging service gave the Russian search engine permission to meld its pipeline of public tweets for real-time search results. Google paired with Twitter in 2009 to offer the same function, but the Internet powerhouses failed to renew their partnership in July 2011. The search engine now prefers its own Google+ social network combined with personalized search results, rather than integrating tweets into aggregated searches.

Web search engine Stories June 4, 2012

According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, Google is preparing to launch a new ad service and tools aimed at small businesses as soon as July. Noting that the new service was once called “Business Builder” internally, the report claimed it will consist of various products that have been developed by Google and technologies/services acquired through the purchases of over six companies at a cost of roughly half a billion dollars since last year. The source claimed Google is hoping the new service will bring in billions in new revenue each year.

A few of the acquisitions mentioned in the report include in-store loyalty program Punchd and SMS customer interaction serviceTalkBin. The service would also include aspects of AdWords Express, Google Offers, Google Wallet, and several new products.

The report explained the Google+ angle: expand full story

Web search engine Stories May 21, 2012

A European Union commissioner chief just gave Google “a matter of weeks” to settle allegations of competition-restricting activity that could help the search engine escape hefty fines and formal charges.

Joaquin Almunia, the European Union’s vice president of the European commission responsible for competition, announced today that he sent a letter to Google’s chairperson Eric Schmidt. The letter detailed the findings of an antitrust investigation into Google’s search practices, and it offered the search engine a chance to remedy its “abuses” by settling.

“I have just sent a letter to Eric Schmidt setting out these four points. In this letter, I offer Google the possibility to come up in a matter of weeks with first proposals of remedies to address each of these points,” said Alumnia.

The investigation found four areas, or points, where Google’s practices “may be considered as abuses of dominance,” such as: Google exhibits links to its own vertical search services; Google duplicates content from competing vertical search services; competition-restriction agreements between Google and partners on websites where Google provides search ads; and, restrictions that Google sets to the portability of ad campaigns from AdWords to other competitors’ platforms.

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Web search engine Stories May 10, 2012

Earlier this month, Microsoft’s search engine Bing unveiled a new style that looks strikingly like Google’s homepage user-interface, but today the Redmond, Wash.-based Company branched from the design and announced a host of new features.

The redesign is still very Google-esque, but the notable aspect to this change is that Microsoft is continuing to make jabs at its primary competitor all the while conducting an obvious rip-off. The Windows-maker even detailed to users in a Bing blog post that its search relevance and quality surpassed Google’s when all signs of branding were removed from the search engines’ homepages:

From the outset, we knew that serving relevant results that were equal to or better than the other guy was table stakes. To track our progress, we conducted tests that removed any trace of Google and Bing branding. When we did this study in January of last year 34% people preferred Bing, while 38% preferred Google. The same unbranded study now shows that Bing Search results now have a much wider lead over Google’s. When shown unbranded search results 43% prefer Bing results while only 28% prefer Google results. What this means is that in 3 years we’ve made some real progress in core relevance and search quality, and while search is becoming so much more than just web results, having a rock solid foundation is important for the future of Bing and search more generally.

Screenshots are available below.

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Web search engine Stories March 29, 2012

DuckDuckGo entered the search engine game in 2008, and it is averaging almost 1.5 million average direct queries per day and announcing system upgrades less than four years later.

The technology is simple: DuckDuckGo gathers results from crowd-sourced websites, such as Wikipedia and direct-competitor Bing, to display a host of search findings. It started as a privacy-conscious alternative to Google.

The chart to the right illustrates DuckDuckGo’s momentum. It just passed the 1 million mark last month, jumping from 630,441 average daily queries in January 2011 to 1,041,493 in February. Current calculations place the search engine at 1,468,690 average daily queries.

Due to the search engine’s success, Founder Gabriel Weinberg announced two major projects underway today that include better programming and speed. The company is even open sourcing more heavily and improving entry points.

“For speed, just this week we upgraded our whole caching system, which should significantly speed up a lot of queries,” wrote Weinberg on Hacker News. “This change should equalize a lot of the location differences, which is the main issue. In some parts of the world we were way slower.”

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Web search engine Stories March 26, 2012

Google added its Google Play service to the black navigation bar found at the top of its search engine.

The “Play” link seems to only appear for users logged into their Google account. Moreover, the Mountain View, Calif.-based Company is likely rolling out the addition, because some users claim they are unable to see the new icon in the Google bar.

It is worth noting the link still does not appear on Google’s main search page—despite being signed-in.

UPDATE: The “Play” link now appears on Google’s main search page whether or not a user is signed-in.

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Web search engine Stories January 2, 2012

Google’s way of spreading the word about Chrome might go against company policies

SEO Books (via Search Engine Land) discovered today that a Google search for “This post is sponsored by Google” reveals that Google may be sponsoring over 400 pages worth of publications who have written about Google Chrome. This is interesting, because Google has never allowed paid links inside their search results. The discovery has not […]

Web search engine Stories October 31, 2011

It seems about every week that Google is testing out new features inside of Search. Today, Google Operating System discovered a small tweak inside of Search — that is pretty redundant. Google has put new specialized search options in a horizontal view under the search box. Previously it was a feature in the black bar and to the side.

As you can notice, quickly things are getting a bit redundant, but hey, that might be a good thing in this case. That’s three places you can now refine your search!

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Web search engine Stories July 15, 2011

Can Google’s search UI get any better?  Yes!

Google Operating System is reporting Google is testing an infinite scrolling feature on their search page. As you can see in the video above — the navigation bar, the search box, and the search options sidebar stays fixed at the top as the user continues to scroll down. Google is also testing a new page preview UI, requiring you to hover over the magnifying glass to see the preview.

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Web search engine Stories May 9, 2011

Another update ahead of I/O tomorrow, this one looks pretty good.

What’s in this version of Google Goggles:

  1. Enhanced Search History feature allows you share results with others & search for prior results
  2. Improved business card scanning
  3. Suggest a result when Goggles fails to recognize an object
  4. Option to save query images to SD card
  5. Pictures taken during slow connectivity can be saved for later.
  6. ( Improved network reliability

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