In a world with corporations that do not understand the value of a 1:1 relationship with their customers, customer service can be a trying experience. In the recent attempted hijacking of our Internet rights by politicians backing the SOPA bill, I was asked to take a stand. The request came from a number of big Internet juggernauts: will you sign a petition, write your congressman or congresswoman, will you stand up against this tyrannical power grab? My answer was yes so I wrote my elected representatives and signed petitions against SOPA. Of all of the organizations I supported with my efforts only one followed up after our stand. Only one took the time to write me a thank you email. Only one was smart enough to recognize the power of a simple thank you even if it’s a mass blast email. Best of all it wasn’t from the big juggernaut I thought even knew I existed.
It has been said that Google’s strength in maintaining their stranglehold over the lucrative search market is to build “moats” around that business. The moats are the free applications and tools that Google provides as ways to continue to add value. Part of that value is to ensure that Google’s search engine remains the number one place for consumers to find information.
Social Search & Facebook
The biggest threat to Google’s dominance is social search: search that relies upon real time information. With the massive social graph being accumulated on Facebook, Google has no chance but to begin to integrate social information into their search results.
In what appears to be the continued “Facebookification” of Google, and a hopeful giant step forward in search, Google announced the launch of it’s social search service +1. Simply put, Google’s +1 feature is a “like” button for search results. After years of attempting to purchase social networks from Friendster to Twitter, Google has delivered what could be their best social innovation offering in +1.
Social Search +1′s Big Benefit: Voting on Search Results
In a nutshell, Google has been taking criticism for years for their search algorithm, delivery of old link search results, and allowing the gaming of the algorithmic system of search by black hat SEO companies.
According to BusinessInsider.com “The big benefit that +1 delivers is that the service will let users vote on search results, then will use the votes as a factor in ranking results.” Could this be the beginning of a new era where gaming the search algorithm no longer is the focus of search engine optimization? Could this be Google’s social graph answer to their critics?
Get Started Using +1
Although it’s still technically in beta and not available to everyone, here are a few of the steps to take in order to begin using +1:
+1 Sign Up: Here is a quick tutorial on how to sign up for +1
Google Profile: Users will need a Google Profile to use +1. After you create a profile, your contacts are accumulated from sources like your Gmail contact list as well as people you follow on Google Reader
Experimental Version: once you have created your profile, you will be asked to opt-in to one of the “experimental” versions of +1
Are you still fumbling around trying to keep up with all the new products and services Google offers? If you can’t seem to find everything all in one place, here’s a tip- Google built it. The “it” in this case is a new site called Google New. Tech expert Emily Chang summed it up best “Google seems to release a new product every week so they’ve created a site that’s the one place to find everything new from Google.”
Google New Tagline: “The one place to find everything new from Google.” They aren’t kidding either. The site is packed with everything from:
Earth & Maps
The list of new items is extensive, appropriate for advanced or beginning technology users, and it is presented in simple, short writing text best for usability by the reader.
Google’s new “toy” is a creation from the heart of their expertise and not another attempt at building a social network from scratch. Mashable’s iconic founder Pete Cashmore reports that ” Google Instant Search, which displays live search results as soon as you begin typing, provides results before a query is complete. By removing the need to hit the “enter” key, Google claims users will save two to five seconds per search. Two (2) to five (5) seconds does not sound like a lot until you extrapolate that time loss over the course of a work day of online searches.
Cashmore on CNN
“Are we too impatient to wait a matter of seconds for our search results? What’s feeding our new-found need for speed? And why does Googlefeel the need to answer our questions before we’ve even asked them?”
Microsoft Operating Systems long the standard and “bully on the block” is getting a new competitor with clout: Google. That is right! Google announced it is going to enter the OS market in 2010. Mashable’s Ben Parr broke the news with his timely article: “BREAKING: Google to Launch Operating System.” Let’s take a look at what Google has to say about Chrome OS.
Chrome OS Description
Open Source: free is always good
Lightweight: uncomplicated is preferable
Targeting Netbooks users
3 Key Aspects of Chrome OS
Speed: faster makes for efficiency
Simplicity: too often we are bogged down by features that are less benefit than drain on a system’s speed. Are you listening Microsoft?
Security: this has been the Achilles heal for Microsoft for a long time and the issue that could present the most value to users
Chrome OS Value Proposition: Eliminate “Microsoft Frustration”
According to Sundar Pichai, VP Product Management and Linus Upson, Engineering Director, Chrome OS advantages
“We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight”
” To start up and get you onto the web in a few second”
“The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way”
“Most of the user experience takes place on the web”
“Completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates”
Zillow.com and Trulia.com have been breakthrough sites that allowed consumers social media functionality in finding listings, property values, and information down to the neighborhood level. Real estate world meet your new neighbor: Google Maps. In a solid article outlining the new Google move Searchengineland.com’s ,“Land Grab: Google Expands Real Estate Listings” announces the “new kid on the block.” According to writer Matt McGee: “Google has expanded its real estate listings and added extra search functionality for users to find property listings in.”
New Search Feature
In the old version of Google Maps, the search function would return basic information such as listings of real estate agents and brokers on a map. Such as a search for San Francisco real estate produced a basic map
Now if you are searching you will find right below the search box, a new “invitation” to search current real estate listings. The results for a search “san francisco real estate” returns:
And comprehensive maps like this:
Google’s Source of Information: Scraping Listings?
According to McGee the search results are coming from sources such as “real estate brokerages and agents, many of whom upload listings into Google Base as part of their online marketing.. .”
McGee asserts that “Google is also getting listings from sources such as Homes & Land and The Real Estate Book and similar sites that advertise listings for participating real estate professionals.”
The dilemma now for Realtors and brokers is whether to list their properties in Google base or other sites that can be readily accessed and repurposed by Google for their own search engine listings within Google Maps. Finally, the National Association of Realtors has already accused Google of scraping it’s MLS listings thus stealing their competitive advantage. Where do Realtors go from here? What is your take on this new player in the real estate market? Only time will tell.