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Where content meets technology

Dec 10, 2007

The Internets

I just glanced at my blog traffic stats and, on a lark, clicked on the "search engine wars" view to see that Google represented 97.81% of my search engine traffic. I knew it was going to be high but what surprised me is how much higher this is than the average (Google had a 56.96% percent share according to Market Share. However, Geoffrey Mack estimated Google's share at 85%). My snap judgement, draws me to two conclusions:

  1. Google likes my blog more than the other search engines do.

  2. My audience likes Google more than other search engines.

These conclusions are not mutually exclusive and I think they both could be right. As for the first one, there a couple of reasons why Google could like my blog (and I am sure that it is not because they think I am smart. With all those Ph.D's, I am sure that they know better than that). I blog on Blogger - a Google product. In addition to being lazy and cheap, choosing Blogger was actually a calculated decision. I suspected that Google may favor (unintentionally of course) their own web properties. More importantly, however, I think that Google love's blogs. Their hub and spoke view of the web is very conducive to the blogosphere and their ridiculously powerful search indexes can handle the volume. Ad Sense is probably making them a ton of money off of blogs too (of course, they don't pass much on to me. Hey maybe that is the reason why Google's market cap is so much higher than Content Here's!). Other search technologies and businesses are optimized for more traditional media.

I did a little test of searching about Facebook and Intranet: a topic that has captured the attention of the blogosphere (at least my little hamlet of it). On Google, the top 5 results were all blogs. On MSN, however, the top 5 results were a television station, a press release, and pages from the Facebook site. On Yahoo! 4 of the top 5 results were blogs. Maybe they use del.icio.us (the other social media phenomenon) to help their search. They would be crazy not to. So, Google loves social media. But I don't always want social media. Soon after my Facebook search, I needed to find a 1099 form to download and send to someone. On Google, I got a Wikipedia article and a bunch of other links about 1099s but not the form. The top results on MSN were from the irs.gov site and got me pretty near the form that I needed to download. So Google appears to be more about the thing while MSN tends do be more the thing itself.

As for my audience loving Google, I think that is probably true too. I write a lot about open source, Firefox puts the Google search box right there in your face. Safari does too (and doesn't allow you change it) and open source geeks love their Macs. I also like to think that my blog appeals to a hipper (nerdy is hip right?) crowd and IE is for the older crowd who think that IE is the Internet (apologies to the 30% of my readers who I have just alienated. I promise that I will fix that IE display issue someday). Google is also a big advocate of open source so there is probably some affinity there too.

So, if you take these two conclusions (even a little bit) you might be open to another proposition: that the Internet may be dividing again. This time it is less about browser compatibility and more about content. You have the "popular web" that is all about "blogging" and "tagging" and "poking" and "pwning". And then you have the traditional web that is more along the lines of the formal broadcast model with a few "official trusted sources." So maybe George Bush knew what he was talking about after all.

Of course, no one wants to break up the web. Having one Internet is really nice and no one wants to give up their reach into the whole Internet. That is why Microsoft bought a chunk of Facebook and traditional media outlets are trying to push community. In the long run, the uniters (not the dividers) are going to win. But still, you need that self proclaimed elite faction trying to stake out a "cool web" to push the envelope on what you can do with Internet technology.