What search engines plan for the future
At the recent Wharton Technology Conference in Philadelphia
representatives from Google, Yahoo and MSN Search discussed
the future of search technologies.
The big search engine companies have different ideas on
how search engines will change over the next few years.
MSN Search wants to focus on the user interface
Saleel Sathe, the representative of MSN Search, claimed
that the user interfaces of search engines required significant
"Search engines have shot themselves in the foot by
providing a search box, where users provide relatively
little information [...]
The average search query is 2.3 words... but if you
asked a librarian for information you would not just
give them 2.3 words -- you would give them the opportunity
to give you the rich detailed answer you want."
Google thinks that technology is more important
Google's representative Matthew Glotzbach argued that the
computers should be able to find out what people want:
"In the distant future we will not be able to get
you to take more action, because we will get close enough
with what you give us. A lot of emphasis will continue
on doing that in the background — getting the technology
to figure out [what you want] [...]
Larry Page [the co-founder] of Google often says,
'the perfect search engine would understand exactly what
you mean and give back exactly what you want'."
Yahoo bets on social search technologies
Yahoo's Bradley Horowitz proposed that existing web search
should be replaced with social search:
"What we think is the next major breakthrough is social
search. It basically democratizes the notion of relevance
and lets ordinary users decide what's important for themselves
and other users."
Each method has its own problems
MSN's approach might be difficult because people are probably
not willing to work more to get information. Most searchers
want quick results.
Yahoo's social search approach requires the participation
of web surfers. The problem is that many people might not
be interested to participate and other people might abuse
the system to promote their own sites.
Google faces the problem that is is difficult to find out
what a web surfer actually wants when he provides only limited
information. This problem could be mastered by saving the
search history of web surfers etc. but that leads to other
These are interesting
times for search. Only time will tell what impact future
changes will have on your business. Until then, you should
try to get
best results with the current search engine situation.