Relevance is Not a Game Changer in Search

February 22, 2009
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The top story on Techmeme as I write is Randall Stross ’s New York Times article, “Everyone Loves Google, Until It’s Too Big“. As Stephen Arnold notes, don’t read the article expecting to learn something new. Still, not everyone who reads the New York Times is current on the search industry, and the article does sum of the state of affairs neatly.

In particular, there’s a nice point by Prabhakar Raghavan, head of Yahoo! Research:

“Whether we’re slightly ahead or slightly behind Google in core relevance is not a game changer in search,” said Prabhakar Raghavan, Yahoo’s chief search strategist.

Yahoo’s best opportunity, Mr. Raghavan said, is to offer radically new ways of presenting information that will help users finish whatever it is they started before the search…  

The top story on Techmeme as I write is Randall Stross ’s New York Times article, “Everyone Loves Google, Until It’s Too Big“. As Stephen Arnold notes, don’t read the article expecting to learn something new. Still, not everyone who reads the New York Times is current on the search industry, and the article does sum of the state of affairs neatly.

In particular, there’s a nice point by Prabhakar Raghavan, head of Yahoo! Research:

“Whether we’re slightly ahead or slightly behind Google in core relevance is not a game changer in search,” said Prabhakar Raghavan, Yahoo’s chief search strategist.

Yahoo’s best opportunity, Mr. Raghavan said, is to offer radically new ways of presenting information that will help users finish whatever it is they started before the search, like finding a job or buying a plane ticket. “People don’t want to search; it’s a digression,” he said. “They want to complete a task.”

Yes, I told you so. And so did Prabhakar, among others. I just wonder how long it will take for the rest of the world to figure this out. That’s why I’m happy to see this discussion making it into the paper of record.

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