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Thread: Could someone explain Google Places.

  1. #11
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    Coming back to the topic - Places. I wonder why G haven't realised that people searching on mobile devices search for different things than they do on their desktop. No-one searching on a desktop PC is going to be searching mostly for pizza parlors, restaurants, shops, bars, parking garages. No-one will search mostly for brain surgeons, global warming data, articles and suggestions on how to grow their business, on a cellphone. These are two entirely different demands - wouldn't they need two entirely different search algorithms?

    Aren't the millions of brilliant engineers at G aware of this, and doing something about it?

    Wouldn't it make sense to have the possibility of selecting "PC" or "Mobile" to filter one's search?
    Last edited by Spider; 04-04-2011 at 09:16 AM.

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    Frederick you have to keep in mind that Google is trying to present results that the majority of people are going to like. They collect data on what people click on and how they modify searches and then tailor their results to make searching a better experience for most people.

    Take something like the search for pizza. Common sense would suggest that most anyone typing pizza into a search engine whether on their phone or computer is looking for places in their area to get pizza. Not all, but most. If we look back a few years, before all the local results were present, Google could have easily discovered people only clicked on results that looked to be local or more likely after typing pizza, they quickly tried a new search for "pizza (insert town here)" Seeing that Google decided to save them the second query and present more local results.

    You're searching Google as someone looking for information about his website. Google isn't looking to present results specifically for you or any other site owner to see how their site is doing. They're looking to present the best results for the most people. Most people have shown an indication they want those local results shown prominently, which is why you see them.

    No-one searching on a desktop PC is going to be searching mostly for pizza parlors, restaurants, shops, bars, parking garages.
    Why? Personally if I wanted pizza and didn't know where to go, I'd search my computer before leaving the house. You're offering an opinion based on what you would do. Google is making decisions based on what their millions of users actually do. However your statement here is completely wrong. It's not about what most people search for on their desktop. It's about what results they want for those times when they do search for one of those terms.

    I know you think that everyone everywhere should see the exact same results for the same query. The reality is everyone everywhere doesn't want to see the same results. The reality is also that there is no single result that's every going to be the best result for all. You and I might type the exact same query, but be looking for entirely different things or think completely different pages are the best response to our query.

    Search engines have this near impossible task of trying to understand our intention based on a few words. If someone types "bass" into a search engine are they looking for guitars or fish? If someone types "football" are they looking for the game with a goalkeeper or a quarterback? The only way Google can come up with a reasonable answer for either is to know more about you personally. That's what all this personalization is about. If they know you live in the US then you're probably more interested in the game with quarterbacks. If you're in the UK you probably want the game with a goalkeeper. If you live in Houston, TX and type business coach you probably want to see business coaches in the Houston area.

    That's probably, not absolutely. Google or any other search engine is never going to know exactly what each individual wants, especially if you're not willing to let them know more about you.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spider View Post
    Harold, I accept all that. but it's not what I'm talking about. I'm not referring to small variations. I am talking about large differences between two different people searching for the same term.

    A short while ago, during a similar discussion, VG (in Denver, CO) searched for Business coach. I searched for business coach from Houston, TX. Both of us were unpersonalized and both of us had United States as our location. I was very pleased that I was appearing #3 or so. VG's result was #40-something. One or both of those results is inaccurate.

    Yesterday, I was still at #3 of the natural resullts. This morning, my search, on the same computer, shows my site at #48. That's on one computer. The same search term, the same setup, the same Google, but a different computer only inches away from the first computer, has me at #2. Reload, to make sure this isn't an electronic burp on the internet - no, same result.
    This is what you call accuracy? This level of consistency is one of the reasons I gave up on Google several years ago - and it is not improving as time goes by.
    I can't answer that any better than VG. I get results based on what it seems my preferences are. No mater how I search, certain "large" sites will always come up first. Given that most people who speak English above a 5th grade level don't just do one word searches, I think the results are pretty good. They are never going to be perfect for everyone. Nothing is. But the great thing about a search engine like Google is that you can refine your search in many ways to get exactly what you are looking for.

    You seem to be saying that people are forced into getting certain results and that is very far from the case. You aren't stuck with anything.
    If you search for "One legged LLama farms in the mid-west" that's exactly what you are going to get if there is a website or article about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spider View Post
    Coming back to the topic - Places. I wonder why G haven't realised that people searching on mobile devices search for different things than they do on their desktop. No-one searching on a desktop PC is going to be searching mostly for pizza parlors, restaurants, shops, bars, parking garages. No-one will search mostly for brain surgeons, global warming data, articles and suggestions on how to grow their business, on a cellphone. These are two entirely different demands - wouldn't they need two entirely different search algorithms?

    Aren't the millions of brilliant engineers at G aware of this, and doing something about it?

    Wouldn't it make sense to have the possibility of selecting "PC" or "Mobile" to filter one's search?
    They do have a mobile version and your browser can determine if you are using a mobile device. The way I use Google on my phone is not the same way I use it on my desktop. They aren't even set up the same. Many mobile browsers such as GPS units and cars have specific functions programmed so you probably won't search for the New York Times, but you will want to know the closest movie theater, restaurant or dry cleaner.
    Last edited by Harold Mansfield; 04-04-2011 at 12:38 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vangogh View Post
    Frederick you have to keep in mind that Google is trying to present results that the majority of people are going to like. They collect data on what people click on and how they modify searches and then tailor their results to make searching a better experience for most people....
    VG, You seem to be arguing a case for not having different filters for mobile searches and desktop searches. I don't understand why. It seems to me, letting people choose mobile or desktop makes a whole lot more sense - for the reasons you stated - than personalised and non-personalised, but some people will like the presonalized results and that's fine. But why would Google not offer another search choice if they have, as you suggest - found that many people want local results and many do not?

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    Quote Originally Posted by eborg9 View Post
    ...They do have a mobile version and your browser can determine if you are using a mobile device. The way I use Google on my phone is not the same way I use it on my desktop. They aren't even set up the same. Many mobile browsers such as GPS units and cars have specific functions programmed so you probably won't search for the New York Times, but you will want to know the closest movie theater, restaurant or dry cleaner.
    Ah, well. That's good. So why does everyone keep throwing pizza in my face whenever a discussion about the difficulty of getting non-local results come up? I've heard more discussion about who wants pizza and who doesn't on this forum than I have ever heard from any single group of people!

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    I'm not arguing that at all. I have no idea where you're getting that from. As far as Google offering people a choice between desktop and mobile search why would they need to. It's trivial for them to detect the device being used. They already do know the difference. For fun I just searched for pizza on both my laptop and iPhone. On the phone the Google Places results were moved higher up on the page appearing above the organic search results. Google could tell I was on a phone and figured I would more likely want those local results so it showed them to me first.

    On the computer I get a couple of non Places results first.

    If what you're suggesting is people choose mobile or desktop not based on device, but based on the search then the query itself is usually enough to do that for most people. Google's whole deal is automation. They want to be able to automatically figure out what works best for most people and then serve those results to the most people. It's not going to be perfect for everyone. They don't always give me the results I want either. I'm savvy enough to be come up with a new query. Overall both Google and Bing do a really good job find search results. I'm still impressed they can near instantly return a bunch of web pages that might be what I'm looking for.
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    I don't get it.
    I get local results when I ask for them. When I don't search for them I don't get them.
    My mobile browser is set differently than my desktop browser and I use Google on both. Some mobile devices don't need a "mobile" setting because the display everything normally.

    I don't understand why Frederick is having such a hard time getting the results he wants.

  8. #18

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    Spider, you're really going to have it bad when you encounter social results. I have accounts at Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare, among many others. All of these are tied to my Google account. If I search for "ice cream" - hey, at least it isn't pizza - I might get a result that says "Joe's Ice Cream Parlor", and under it, "Jimmy Jones checked in at this local via Foursquare", or "Diane Holbrock shared this link on Twitter". You only see those things if you're socially tied to those people, to boot.

    Google is changing the whole concept of the search engine, and doing it smoothly enough that most people don't realize it yet. It's becoming more important who *you* are and who your connections are, and less important what your specific search terms are.

    For what it's worth, I find that seaches using boolean syntax almost never show these specialized results - they seem to fall back on the base Index.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Capitalist View Post
    ...Google is changing the whole concept of the search engine, and doing it smoothly enough that most people don't realize it yet. It's becoming more important who *you* are and who your connections are, and less important what your specific search terms are...
    That's hilarious! IOW - To hell with what *you* want, we will give you what *we* think you should be searching for!

    Yes, I think Harold has been trying to tell me that for a long time.

    I think that's why G was kicked out of China, actually - the communist government didn't like anyone muscling in on their monopoly of telling the Chinese people what to do. They weren't going to tolerate a capitalist upstart trying to do the same to *their* people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spider View Post
    That's hilarious! IOW - To hell with what *you* want, we will give you what *we* think you should be searching for!
    You aren't too far off on that one. I fought it for a while, but I ended up just figuring out how to make it what I wanted it to be based on what little control I have over it. The bottom line is Google is a business, not a utility. They aren't obliged to provide anything for anyone.
    It doesn't have to be handicap accessible. It doesn't have to be fair. It doesn't have to provide equal opportunity to the small guy. They aren't obligated or regulated to do anything regarding how they run their search algorithms.

    If they piss off 10% of the people and still retain 90%, those are pretty good numbers for a business and their stock will still trade at $572 a share ( good lord that's high).

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