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Report: Google Overhauling Search Results

Report: Google Overhauling Search Results
By Jennifer LeClaire

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"There's a fair amount of work that is probably being done or will have to be done to pull this off by Google," said analyst Greg Sterling of a Google overhaul. "Depending on what the new pages look like they may also inflame the anti-competitive debate raging around the top of Google's [search-engine result pages] and how it impacts third parties."
 

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Google is reportedly working on a major overhaul to its search engine. Although the Internet giant is not talking, The Wall Street Journal is reporting on a makeover that would fix some of the shortcomings in today's technology while paving the way for Google to remain atop the heap of search-engine land.

The Journal reports that Google will begin offering more than the age-old blue Web links over the next few months. Specifically, Google will present more facts and direct answers to queries in at the top of the search-results page.

This could cause concern for companies large and small as the changes are expected to impact millions of Web sites and perhaps Google page ranks. The Journal also reports that the new search engine scheme could give Google more opportunities to dish out ads.

Fueling Anti-Competition Flames?

Although he can't specifically comment on the technology or "under the hood" piece of Google's search engine overhaul, Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, said providing more "answers" is consistent with the direction search has been going for some time. As he sees it, the phrase 'answers, not links' is now a cliche.

"Part of this is undoubtedly also being driven by Google's need to remain viable and competitive in mobile, where a conventional page of search results is less desirable to users than something more direct and specific," Sterling said.

"There's a fair amount of work that is probably being done or will have to be done to pull this off by Google. Depending on what the new pages look like they may also inflame the anti-competitive debate raging around the top of Google's [search-engine result pages] and how it impacts third parties. But this is a direction that people generally want search to go, I believe."

Combating Fraudulent Ads

Google was not immediately available for comment, but the company this week did make an announcement about its ads. Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior vice president of engineering at Google, said in a blog post that the company is fighting a war against a huge number of bad actors -- from Web sites selling counterfeit goods and fraudulent tickets to underground international operations trying to spread malware and spyware.

"Given the number of searches on Google and the number of legitimate businesses who rely on this system to reach users, our work to remove bad ads must be precise and at scale," Ramaswamy said. "We recently made some improvements to help ensure the ads you see comply with our strict policies."

Google's automated systems already scan and review landing pages as well as advertiser accounts. Now, Google has improved "query watch" for counterfeit ads and deployed a new risk model to detect violations. Google also set up a faster manual review process and now aims to respond within 24 hours after receiving a reliable complaint about an ad.

"We're also catching the vast majority of these scam ads before they ever appear on Google or on any of our partner networks," Ramaswamy said. "For example, in 2011, we shut down approximately 150,000 accounts for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods, and more than 95 percent of these accounts were discovered through our own detection efforts and risk models."
 

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