Google buys visual search Like.com
Founded in 2004, Like.com is a visual search engine that uses computer vision and machine learning technology to help users match shoes, clothes, jewelry and decor online and purchase them from retailers.
The user indicates the searched product and only details color, style, price, brand, etc. Like.com then offers imaged results matching the query. Links are provided so that the user can directly buy the product.
The idea is to help users find a product without having to know the brand or model, but simply mentioning a detail (color, shape, material).
Like.com also owns virtual fashion studio Couturious.com and Covet.com, as well as online personal shopper for fashion products.
Visual search to be integrated into Google's products?
Visual search is an area that Google is trying to dominate with its Android application called Google Goggles. Goggles allows users to snap a picture of any object and send it to Google's servers to identify the object and display relevant searches related to the item in question.
In 2005, Google failed to acquire Riya, a company specialized in image facial recognition and tagging for consumers. However, latest April Google bought visual art search engine Plink. This technology is now being used to fortify Google Goggles.
According to its Webmaster Central Blog, Google made a major update on its search algorithm: the search engine can now list more search results from the same domain within the top 10 Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
Previously, Google limited to two the number of search results from the same domain to preserve relevance and diversity of results on a single search result page.
This method provided the best answers to users for most queries. However, for specific queries, the old algorithm didn't work very well, especially when the user was clearly interested in a particular website.
Now, Google will list more results from the same domain (even eight out of the first ten results!), so that users can find exactly what they want. There will be still a few results from other websites in order to preserve diversity.
From a SEO point of view, this is good news. If your website is well optimized, it means that you will have more pages displayed within the SERP. However, the feature will concern only specific queries, so the changes are quite minor.
Sogou is a search engine which can search text, images, music, and maps. Launched in 2004, it is owned by China's No. 2 Internet portal Sohu but Alibaba Group is going to buy shares. Sogou means "Search Dog" in Chinese.
Youdao is a search engine released by Chinese Internet company NetEase in 2007. It is the featured search engine of its parent company's web portal, 163.com, and lets users search for web pages, images, news, music, blogs, etc. Youdao roughly translates as “there's a way”.
However, I know there are many readers of this blog from other Asian countries like South Korea, Japan, India, Malaysia, Thailand, etc. Feel free to share your knowledge about how search engines interpret queries in your language.
Let's take an example: I'm searching for "clothes" on google.cn (well actually google.com.hk since Google China has gone to Hong Kong).
If I use simplified Chinese characters, I perform the query "衣服", and Google displays the following search results page:
What if I now use Pinyin, the romanization system for Mandarin? I write "yifu". Check out the search results page:
As you can see, the search results are totally different from the query with the term in simplified Chinese. In that case, Google gives for example more weight to sites with domain names including the keyword "yifu".
What is interesting to notice here is that not only does "yifu" term appear in red, but "衣服" is also displayed in the same color in the search results, as if I was searching for the term "衣服". And Google suggests me to search for "衣服"...
If I use the exact Pinyin term "yīfu" (with accent), the search results page will be as following:
This query uses the right spelling for Pinyin but it's actually the one that gives the less relevant results...
How do search engines deal with your language? Please leave your comments!
Do you know that Gmail uses your information to display ads promoting your competitors? I know that can sound weird but let me explain about what I discovered.
Gmail displays ads relevant to your interests
A prospect used his personal email address to send me a message. He was asking me for more information about our web design and SEO services. Nothing amazing here. Yet, when I read his message in my Gmail inbox, I saw ads related to LED companies.
But Gmail promotes your competitors behind your back too
I actually figured out that my potential customer's company operates in the LED sector. Gmail knew his interests in LEDs and thought that I could be interested in LEDs too. In the end, Gmail was promoting LED companies which were actually his company's competitors!
Ok, now what if he was writing one of his prospects?
Well, his prospect would have the email, and next to it the competitors' ads! Isn't that crazy?! Google puts it that way : if you're interested in LED, and you write to someone, this someone could be interested in LED's too! yeah, sure that someone could click and give money to google adwords... But google use me to target my prospects and show them my competitors to increase his revenues !!
Does that mean that when I write people using my gmail to their gmail... google displays web design and seo ads? that could seriously piss me off... what about you?
What if I am using a Hotmail / Yahoo, or any other Email client?
Well, then Google cannot track me easily, and gmail will probably not show relevant ads when I write anyone. Which means that they cannot use me to take my prospects away anymore...
Google is in fact encouraging us to use their competitors' emails services ...
Why does Google do that?
For obvious reasons, to increase the number of clicks on the ads displayed within gmail and thus earn more money. Usually, when Google has to chose between increasing money AND user privacy/scandal, they chose the latter. May I remind you that they don't display ads on their homepage (well, actually they do for their own services and Chrome, but that's fine). I think it's a very stupid move from them... and I wouldn't be surprised to see them change their policy if there was a scandal. The thing is, very few people know about it, so there is no scandal... for now.
Google AdWords allows advertisers to use trademarked keywords
Under the previous system, brand owners could file a trademark complaint with Google that would ban third-party advertisers from using search trademarked keywords.
However, the European Court of Justice ruled in March that allowing third parties to bid for trademarked keywords was within the bounds of intellectual property law.
The brand owners will still have the right to file complaints with Google which will take the ads down if they agree that the origin of the goods is confusing like in the case of counterfeits.
More relevant results, more revenue
Google introduced AdWords location extensions that let advertisers put their businesses' location and phone number on a Google map ad for mobile websites and applications. The company is looking to target ads to smartphone users who often use Google Maps to get directions and find businesses.
Ads on Google Maps with location extensions
Google Maps users will see such ads surface as banner text ads with a business icon that expands to show the business location on a Google map along with the ad creative, click-to-call phone number and directions.
Click-to-call ads let advertisers add local business numbers alongside their destination URLs in mobile search ads. When smartphone users search for a local business from their mobile phone (such as Apple's iPhone and Android phones) and see ads that have these numbers, they may simply click the number to call the business.
While one may think that a Google ad that leverages user location would leverage the GPS capabilities of handsets as well as Google's location servers, Google will merely use IP addresses to determine users' locations.
Location extensions ads have greater ROIs
Business advertisers are actually not charged when users click to expand the map or get directions, advertisers are only charged when a user clicks to call the business or clicks to visit its website.
Click-through rates are also up 6% when Google provides a phone number and 8% when it offers a local address with ads.
Is Yahoo! China going to follow Yahoo! Japan in choosing Google as search partner?
The question could have seemed awkward a few weeks ago but it is now a topical issue. Indeed, despite a global search alliance between Microsoft and Yahoo! Inc, Yahoo! Japan! announced latest week its intention to team up with Google for search and ads.
Yahoo! China unlikely to choose Google
Google could come as the first choice since it leads the search market worldwide. However, the US firm faced a lot of problems in China this year, notably because it refused, after a serious hacking episode, to filter search results in order to comply with Chinese regulations.
After redirecting all queries from its Chinese site to its unfiltered Hongkongese site, Google decided in July to stop automatically redirecting its Chinese users and created a dedicated page on google.cn. After China's government gave Google the permission to continue its activities in China, things have cooled down a bit, but the situation still seems unstable.
Yahoo! China currently filters search results, so it is difficult to imagine Yahoo! China teaming up with Google.
Local Chinese search providers?
Others possibilities are offered to Yahoo! China such as going with local Chinese search providers like Baidu, Soso and Sohu (Sogou). The Chinese providers all have censored local search services that could fit into a deal with Alibaba Group which owns Yahoo! China.
Alibaba to develop search technology by itself?
Last possibility would be developing a search technology by itself. For now, Alibaba hasn't said anything on the subject but it doesn't seem that the eCommerce giant is interested in doing so. Indeed, Alibaba Group, has pitched Yahoo! China site as an entertainment-oriented portal.
Baidu to create mobile OS similar to Android
Baidu'd like to launch its own open source mobile OS. The Beijing-based company won't actually start from scratch since it hired former Google's employees who left the US company involved in a confrontation with the Chinese government.
Search engine war goes mobile
Baidu is leading China's search engine market with a 70% market share, far ahead of Google's 24%. However, when it comes to mobile search, both companies have about 26% of the market.
The Chinese company has clearly to react if it wants to get a prominent position in the mobile search engine market. Creating its own mobile OS would help it to achieve this objective.
Moreover, Baidu is in talks with mobile handset makers that use Android about embedding a Baidu search box on their phones that are destined for the Chinese market.
Symbian leads China's mobile OS market
Android has made significant progress within the Chinese market. However, Android phones made up only 0.4% of the 7.25 million smartphones sold in China during Q4 2009 (according to technology research firm Analysys International), but they're now widely distributed by many of China’s largest wireless carriers.
Google to power Yahoo! Japan for search and ads
Yahoo! Japan is Japan’s biggest site
Yahoo! Japan is Japan’s leading search engine and the country’s biggest website.