Every now and then, search giant Google surprises me. It’s happened again today – and I’m not referring to the privacy concerns surrounding the company’s foray into social networks.
Let me explain. I got hooked watching the mens’ snowboard cross event in the Winter Olympics last night. It’s been a long time since I’ve encountered a sport that’s so instantly watchable and packed with drama.
If you’ve not had the pleasure, watch the BBC’s short highlights of the action to see what I’m on about.
I heard on the radio that the ladies’ event is tonight and wanted to find out when it starts. Turning to Google was the obvious option, so I entered winter olympics snowboard cross times into the search engine.
What happened? I got exactly the information I wanted, displayed bang at the top of the search results, in UK time, with links through to the Winter Games site for more information.
Stuff like this must drive Google’s competitors mad.
I use Google Reader. A lot. It’s my main source of news and information through the day, and I find it’s great for homing in on stories I’m interested from websites I like.
I logged in a few minutes ago and it’s been redesigned. I haven’t explored the new interface fully yet, but it looks cleaner. They don’t seem to have added any themes (like they did with Gmail), but at first glance it looks good.
Judge for yourself with this screenshot. Click for full-size:
Do you rely on a good RSS Reader for news? Which is your favourite? Leave a comment and let me know.
Just spotted a rather portentous headline on the BBC technology news site: ‘Symbian dismisses Google Android’.
I know that Google has next to no experience of producing a mobile platform. And I know that Symbian has plenty. But given Google’s track record, I do wonder if Symbian might come to be haunted by that headline in a couple of years’ time. Google just seem to be good at virtually everything they do.
The Department for Transport has kicked-off its Act on CO2 campaign, to enourage people to think more about carbon emissions when they’re driving their car, or choosing a new one.
I caught one of the TV ads tonight and the call-to-action at the end was one I’ve not seen before. Instead of telling us to ‘visit actonco2.co.uk for more information’, the commercial directs us to ‘search online for act on CO2′.
When you put that phrase into Google, it seems they’ve bagged the top natural search spot, as well as the top sponsored link. Fair enough – they’ve picked a tag line and optimised the site so it’s highly ranked for it.
This approach does make some sense. It’s often easier to remember a phrase instead of a website address, and if you can’t recall the exact wording, a close approximation will often get you there.
But it does leave an obvious route for someone to mount a counter-campaign. A bit of concerted search engine optimisation work could probably push a different site to the top of those Google search results. And then the Department for Transport could find its ads promoting exactly the kind of behaviour they’re trying to discourage.
It would be interesting to hear if they’ve thought of this – and if they think the gains they’ll make from not quoting a specific URL will outweigh the damage done by conflicting websites appearing alongside their own.
(To give you some idea, the Association of British Drivers are already 5th-placed for that term, and I think it’s fair to say that they are slightly sceptical of the whole thing. With some work, I bet they could rise up the rankings.)