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Sunday, June 15, 2008

NY Times as Yahoo Armchair CEO for Jerry Yang

The New York Times columnist Joe Nocera gives Jerry Yang a good talking down to in this week's "Talking Business" column titled, "Oh Jerry, It’s No Longer Your Baby". Lots of smug armchair CEO pretend-you-know-best blather here. Nocera may believe he understands search - but his expertise is corporate business affairs.

While it may seem like a sort of fun exercise in word play which treats a major CEO as a poor dumb shortsighted child, it is far more powerful when published in an International publication like the New York Times.Yang could be ousted by the board Monday morning because Nocera has verbally abused him (and therefore Yahoo) on that very big stage. So while Jerry can take his billions and retire comfortably as suggested in the column - Nocera can grin and gloat that he spoke his mind.

Yahoo search may be brought to it's knees if they have yet another leadership change before they can get down to business accomplishing all the things initiated under Yang in the past year since he took over for Terry Semel. I've liked what I've seen since Yang took over (despite the massive distraction of fending off Microsoft for 5 months). Give the man some time to implement those ideas and prove the value of his new initiatives.

I've said here on several occasions that I believe the new Yahoo Open Strategy (YOS) will have a hugely positive effect on the company and strongly believe that the new "Social" Yahoo is promising beyond all previous initiatives there.

Now that Ballmer and company have stopped, we can only hope that the proxy fight promised by Icahn will be dropped and if smug columnists who would run a major corporation remotely from their office 3000 miles away would back off and stay out of the mix - perhaps Jerry could do his job.

I see YOS as the best hope for massive success for Yahoo and not one person at Microsoft, nor nasty corporate raiders, nor smug columnists has any concept of how powerful an idea it is. They need to stop trying to bomb and burn down the house of Yahoo and give Jerry some space.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Google SiS (Search in Search) Scares Control Freaks

Google Search-in-Search and a New York Times article titled "New Tool From Google Alarms Sites" has provoked a "startle response" from bloggers, search engine marketers and a few major publishers and online retailers. This all started on March 5th, when Google engineers announced the "Search-in-Search" aka "Teleportation" feature in the official Google Blog. The reasons appear to boil down to three responses to Google:
  1. How DARE you steal my pageviews!
  2. How DARE you sell ads against my brand!
  3. How DARE you claim your search is better than OURS!
Before I get into my thoughts on the matter, here is what that new Google Search Within Search Result looks like for a "NY Times" query:

ny times - Google Search
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Here's how this controversy boils down for me on each of the above three points:

  1. The (weak) argument suggesting that Google is stealing pageviews from publishers who hope to capitalize on page after page of bad internal site search results is like saying - "Hey site user, we think you are an idiot and that you are probably willing to click through page after page of bad search results on our site and will tire of this eventually and click on one or two of our advertisers banners in order to escape the torture." or Bad user experience (most site search sucks and is NOT optimized) equals extra incremental income - so bad user search experience is good for us!
  2. Objection two seems to be some sort of opposition to Google showing competitors ads in their Adwords results. Again saying "User, we think you haven't a CLUE what you wanted when you typed OUR company name into the search box and you may decide to go to our competitors instead. If your competitors Adwords copy is so good that users go there instead of your site and you are not making keyword buys against your own brand - You Deserve to lose the customer!
  3. There has been some discussion of the loss of internally optimized long tail searches which seem to justify point #3 above in the list of objections to "SiS" (Search-in-search) but this objection is only applicable to those VERY few sites that actually have good site search and (even rarer) those who optimize internal search results for EVERY long tail search phrase.

I do happen to agree with everyone who has suggested that this probably should be "opt-in" for those companies that have "SiS" appearing on their brand searches at Google. This suggests though that a) all of those brands are participating in Google Webmaster Central accounts and have verified their pages or b) that "Search-in-Search" be manually turned off and administered by Google (that will only happen with Fortune 100 web companies, if that) appears to be already turned off for Amazon and Ebay.

I believe Google when they say they are doing this to improve user experience, and while it may increase their Adwords income incrementally, I say to Google - Bully for you - and congratulations on, yet again, finding a way to improve the search experience while increasing your own income. Google does not owe anyone more pageviews, and should be allowed to offer tools which increase their income.

To those moaning over lost opportunity and incremental income, I say - Get over yourselves - Your site search sucks and this saves me from doing the standard: " product name" queries I'm always having to do because your internal search is so bad.

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