Tag Archives: search term

Hitwise: Google News dominated by celebrity search

Searches for celebrity or entertainment topics accounted for the largest proportion of Google News searches over the last 12 weeks (based on an analysis of the top 300 generic search terms sending traffic to the site), according to Hitwise.

The search term ‘jade goody’ accounted for 2.6 per cent of the UK’s site traffic.

Full post at this link…

Paul Bradshaw, Twitter and the art of predicting the interview

Prior to his appearance to talk about Twitter on BBC West Midlands’ breakfast show this morning, Birmingham City journalism lecturer and Online Journalism Blog blogger Paul Bradshaw put out a call on the service to see if he and his followers couldn’t predict what questions he’d be asked.

[You can listen to the audio of the interview at this link until February 25 2009 – Paul’s interview comes in around the 2 hours 15 mins mark]

Here’s the full audio of the interview courtesy of BBC West Midlands and the Phil Upton Breakfast Show:

150 responses later and the #bbcwm tag became the seventh most popular search term on Twitter. Here’s the predicted interview (full names of Twitterers and responses can be seen on Bradshaw’s blog):

  1. Isn’t it a waste of time?
  2. What’s Twitter all about?
  3. What famous people are on it?
  4. Have there been any catfights on it?
  5. How do you ever get any work done?
  6. What advice can you give me on using Twitter?
  7. Can’t these people make real friends?
  8. Why would you want strangers knowing what you do?

And, of the five questions presenter Phil Upton got to ask, numbers 1, 2, 3 and 5. A bonus question – also predicted by Bradshaw’s followers – included ‘what’s the best tweet/tweeter you’ve seen?’. Aptly, Bradshaw used responses that had been sent by Tweeters to illustrate his answers.

Upton, who tweets at @flupton, had been following the responses to Bradshaw’s shoutout and may have used them as free research. Even if he didn’t base his questions on the #bbcwm replies there’s a strange ‘self-fulfilling interview’ prophecy going on here, with questions answered before the interview has even taken place…

PIXSTA develops ‘image-to-image’ search engine

Search firm PIXSTA has developed what it describes as a contextual search engine for images.

The engine will let users search by image rather than text creating – according to PIXSTA – ‘the most sophisticated and accurate image search engine in the world’.

From a random starting point a user clicks on an image to bring up similar images. As such, the engine’s primary use will be for searching for products, such as clothes, jewellery or shoes, and when an image is selected for purchase users are taken beyond the retailer’s homepage to the individual page of that product.

Screenshot of live PIXSTA search on News of the World’s Fabulous website

The search engine, which has been five years in the making, is currently being trialled on the News of the World’s Fabulous site, handbag.com and ElleUK and is making some bold claims about its potential.

“Being able to use an image as a search term means we have absolutely stolen a march on the likes of Google, whose image search still relies on text search terms. We have a real-world solution, which doesn’t require a huge leap in user understanding or a massive change in their behaviour. It’s working now and already generating revenue,” says Alexander Straub, CEO of PIXSTA on the firm’s blog.

Searchable Twitter makes it more robust for news

Thanks to Cybersoc for drawing attention to Tweet Scan, a site that allows you to keyword search public Twitter messages – another useful addition which makes it even less arbitrary and more newsworthy.

Twitter’s credo as a mainstream news device has been growing over the last few months. In September it launched a tracking service that allowed users to follow phrases on mobiles and through IM and it was used to good effect to follow real time reports of last year’s fires in East London and the Californian bush.

Robin makes the point that it’s a great resource for journalists looking for firsthand accounts from people close to events. To that I’d add it’s ability to mix professional and non-pro accounts around a topic. It’s short nature also lends particularly well to reporting traffic problems and other necessary travel information.

How I really want to see it used though is by a UK news publisher, be it national, regional or local, on a breaking news story. Be bold, I say.

Get an RSS feed from a Twitter search term embedded into a blog or on the news pages updating the user with alerts from the public and other news sources about breaking news events.

RSS feeds for search results at The Sun

Paul Bradshaw has flagged up an interesting (and handy) feature on The Sun’s website through the Online Journalism blog, namely that the newspaper site offers users an RSS feed for stories relating to a search term.

After using the site’s search, the option to set up an RSS results feed can be found at the top of the results page.

As Paul points out, this is similar to the serviece offered by Google News, but a quick search suggests that this is not a feature on any of the other national newspaper websites in the UK.

Why the front page is still relevant

When the incremental overhaul of the Guardian.co.uk enveloped the site’s homepage earlier this year there was much talk of the growing irrelevance of newspaper websites having a ‘front’.

Why a front when so many readers/users/visitors/viewers come in though the side door of search and RSS feeds?

Jeff Jarvis quoted figures that as few as 20 per cent of daily visitors get to see it.

Search engine optimisation – that’s the key isn’t it? With ubiquitous navigation from all parts of the site? Yes, truly it’s important. But is that the case for every user of a newspaper website?

Well, up to a point, Sir – as Mr Salter might say.

Let’s take that magic 20 per cent (I have to apologise for not knowing what this figure actually relates to, but I’ll use it as a starting point rather than a crux). Why would a fifth of daily users want to go in via the front door?

Perhaps they’re not fans of the Google hegemony, so avoid its referrals like the plague? Or not tech-savvy enough to master RSS feeds? Or pretty-much only want news from a single perspective, so rely on just one site as ‘the news’?

But what if accessing the news for them wasn’t as simple as scanning NewsFire or banging a search term into Google and quickly scanning a dozen or so relevant links?

What if navigating all the non-uniform sites linked to from Google News was a cripplingly slow nightmare?

What if the architecture of the sites they visit is as relevant – if not more relevant – than the slant those sites put on the news?

Well, if you’re a blind or partially sighted internet user that’s pretty much how it works.

Over the course of this week Journalism.co.uk is running a series of reports looking at difficulties blind and partially sighted users have accessing leading UK national newspaper websites.

To this end we asked a number of volunteers to show us, first-hand, the common problems they face. During our assessments the value of a homepage became strikingly obvious.

Our volunteers tended to start their internet news searches from the homepage of a favoured news site, rather than a search engine.

Our principal volunteer John Allnutt told us that he tended to glean his news from the BBC News site as it had simple navigation that he was used to using and its accessibility information was easily available.

Nothing so strange in that. Most people have favourites. But the tendency to surf differing sources of news isn’t common, we found, amongst those with visual impairment.

It became clear that once a user had got used to the unique and sometimes esoteric navigation of a news site, using screen reading technology, then logic prevailed. It’s easier and quicker to just go to the site where you know all the idiosyncrasies and curios, rather than getting stuck in the frustrating hamster-wheel of figuring out the complexities of other sites.

Furthermore, many news sites don’t have standardised design throughout, making it harder still to jump into a certain section and expect it to be laid out and navigable in the same way as the rest of the site. Easier then just to enter through the home page and to use that as the fulcrum to all your movements around the site.

Our observation isn’t just limited to the individuals we worked with on the project.

Trenton Moss, director of Web Credible, a web usability and accessibility consultancy that helped us in the early part of the project, told us that this is a common phenomenon.

Blind and visually impaired individuals will continue to use these sites in spite of their flaws he told us, perfecting use of the imperfect navigation of a single or a few sites from the homepage to access news online.

There is no ubiquity of design that would allow the blind and visually impaired user to easily float between news sites and utilise search engines as the easy and quick route to news they want.

Ubiquitous design across a range of news websites isn’t something that’s likely to happen soon, if ever.

It’s because of this that front pages remain important as a point of entry for navigation and an easily accessible summation of all that is important.

Google News makes Facebook app – so far, not so good

Google News has created a Facebook application allowing users to search and share stories. Users are able to create their own news categories, as well as selecting from predefined news topics, and mail news to Facebook chums.

According to Google the application is still experimental – just in the beta phase claims the Google News blog – but so far, not so good.

It seems you have to navigate to a separate page to get all your news from Google, in addition to this annoyance (which I think will be sufficient to put a lot of people off) you can’t do anything about the Top and Most Popular stories column on the right side of the page. You can’t crush them down or remove them, the only option is to ‘read more’ which low-and-behold, opens another tab in your browser to show the Google News page.

The Google News app in its current state seems to be a way to navigate out of Facebook quickly (never really a bad thing I suppose). A wish list has been set up on the apps page so that people can recommend alterations – expect changes quickly.

I have another Google News app that I use, it’s called Goonews and was developed by a guy called Eran Shir and powered by Dapper (not sure what ‘powered’ actually means in this context). It’s a bit more rudimentary (you have to define your search term ahead of time and seem to only ever to be able to have one category of news displayed) but at least its as flexible the other apps on my profile page – at least its on my profile page.

Google search looks to bloggers

Word on the blogosphere is that Google is now publishing Google Blog search results in responses to main search queries.

And as far as the Journalism.co.uk blog goes it’s true. A search using just the search term Omgili brings up the recent post on our blog as fifth in the results.

As Problogger argues, this is good news for bloggers who will see their posts soar up the rankings and for users who want the most up to date discussion.

Several commenters ask whether this is related to Google’s recent aquisition of FeedBurner and whether it’s only blogs indexed by FeedBurner that feature in the results.