Aug 22, 2007

Marissa Mayer Keynote @ SES

On day 3 of SES San Jose, we started the day with a keynote hosted by Danny Sullivan. The guest speaker was Marissa Mayer from Google. I went to the session - hoping to learn a little more about what Google is planning for the future. I'd just heard that Google has unveiled new YouTube ads, and I was curious about that. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to ask my question. I did however learn a little about Marissa's perspective on a number of Google features and Search Trends.

GUS - Google Universal Search.
This seems to be one of the key themes of this event. Marissa maintained that Google has changes it's entire infrastructure of how the servers work, along with it's rannking piece in order to provider users with Universal Search. The idea being to move away from 10 links and try to give users better, more useful answers. Universal Search renderes results more like an encyclopedia. Currently GUS renders Search Results from a hand ful of verticals including Maps, images, video and books. In future, Google will add Blogs, Scholar and other verticals. That said, Google's wants to focus on function before form - so performance remains a key priority - even as they strive to deliver a richer set of Search Results.

Personalized Search - is becoming more popular with Googlers - with 10's of millions os users already. Google is already trying to user Session Memory to deliver more relevant results and corresponding ads. Although It’s hard to know what variables would be used through Personalized Search, Google currently leverages locations, atlas book and web history in delivering personalized results to users.

I also learn't that Search history and web history are now available – so users can see their history and even have control over their search history. That way, there’s less chance that Google personalized search will generate in accurate search results. One touchy subject for Search Markerters is that personalized search results are co-mingled with Algo results - which makes it tougher for websites to rank very high on Google SERPs. Marissa actually believes that personalized results will become the default of the future, because the relevance is so much better.

Inevitably, the subject of Social Media Networks was discussed - notably Facebook. Marissa noted the similarities between Google and Facebook -
-> Both have fully functional applications, a robust API and open platforms
-> Anyone can create a Google gadget or a Facebook application. So essentially, both provide a great opportunity to build a better deeper relationship with users.

Human Powered Search Engines, notably Maholao - have been in the news lately and Marissa was asked about Google's apparent position as an Algo Purist. She pointed out that although Algo results are very important, Google Coop does provide an opportunity for users to label results. Google Notebook also allows users to index information and provide commentary. So, in effect - Google leverages Algo results and the collective intelligence of it's user base.

Interestingly, when discussing Algo Results - she mentioned that Google sifts through 10's of Billions of pages in order to deliver relevant results. That would seem to indicate that Google's index size is simply massive. In the past, Google has claimed to have the largest index, but historically, the company refused to call out any numbers or walk anyone through how they can prove it.

Marissa included a 5 minute demo of Google's Local feature on iPhone. Including the street level views. She also talked about the Google 411 Service and how it provides voice activated maps. Apparently, Google Mobile is the one feature which doesn't suffer from a mid summer slump in query volume - possibly because more Googlers are spending time outdoors and using their cell phones instead of PCs or lap tops.

All in all, it was an interesting keynote - although there are lot's of questions about how GUS and Personalized Search will impact Search Marketers.

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