This is how to beat Google on search: the way Google+ is beating Facebook!

Like anyone serious about business, I spend time trying to figure out how Google’s search algorythm works.  Because if you are serious about business you care about communication.   And if you care about communication you have to care about the way most of the world now discovers information.

Yesterday I was surprised to notice that my main computer produced absolutely no Greek website results for “champions league” or “Europa league”.   Not even on the twentieth results page!   Both of my reference machines (different setups, not logged in to a Google account, not using Google Chrome) had their first page full of Greek results.   Obviously Google has been tracking the fact that I am not interested in football.   But no matter how hard I search, there is nowhere in my Google customization, preferences or other location where I can untick a box to change this.

At the same time I have been admiring Google+ .   You are much more in control of the experience than Facebook.   It is much, much less prone to scams, false profiles and spam of all sorts.   For anyone who has lived in the uncertain world of trying to do Facebook marketing over the past years it is a breath of fresh air.

And that is exactly how Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine can overtake Google.   Bear open your secret sauce.   Show us the workings of your algorythms and let us tweak them.   Let me, the search users, decide what I want to attach weight to.   We could even swap tweaks, like my “don’t care about football but like outdoor stuff and sport in general” attitude.    It would be something you nurture through time, like a farm on Farmville; your searches and clicks create your own unique version of the search algorythm, your own “magic soup”.   Many users would love it.   At least those who care about what they see, the discerning users who are probably more interesting for advertisers too in the long term.

You can’t beat Google any other way, and we all know how hard you tried…

Business Communication Technology

VISA, Google and racism

“We would like you to confirm a transaction made yesterday in San Fransisco.”   A few years back I used to get a lot of calls from my bank.   Customers that travelled as much as me and shopped a lot online were obviously an extreme rarity in Greece.   So I had hardly hit an airport shop or finished buying something on the web and my cell phone rang…

Their logic was algorythmic:  an individual buying a lot of stuff with a credit card in widely different parts of the world is likely to be a fraudster.  But imagine getting a call like this:   “Mr Chalkidis, we know you are an illiterate schmuck so are you sure you bought all those high brow books from Amazon today?”    It would be similar to the British banks that denied me a credit card when I landed to study in England because of my Greek decent.  (Too many Greeks before me had ran enormous bills and then skipped the country!)  

I fought (and won) the banks then, like the European Union lawyers can fight Google now.   Racism!   Forget complex tech talk about algorythms, focus on human rights.   Google cleverly has tried to make their search contextual.   Based on past searches and other customer data.   ie hazy enough to confuse provability.   So get several brand new computers in different locations and build carricatured profiles on them.   Log what they surf and what they fill in as a profile.   Then do a web search.   Any differences in search results and you can yell “racism!” “sexism!” “nationalism!” or any other “ism” you like.

It is easy mainly because this language of rights makes no sense really.   It is however extremely succesful in the court.   Especially if you manage to find a difference, no matter how trivial, between different races or ethnic groups; anything that affects an underpriviliged group.   If one personae has declared he or she is crippled in any way and they don’t get as many sports results for example.  

It may sound ridiculous but imagine actually been cripple and getting a telephone call like this:  “we notice three charges for fancy running shoes on your credit card this week.   Can you please confirm them?”