Google Custom Search Engines and Core Search

Gary Price put up a post on Wednesday where he speculated that Google’s plan to focus on core search were just stories. Gary cites the move into radio ads, the Custom Search Engine announcement, and the YouTube acquisition as being divergent from this plan.

Lisa Barone at BruceClay.com speculates further on this topic. Lisa’s take is that the plan to increase the focus on core products is still real. Lisa offers the opinion that we should NOT interpret Google’s statements about a core search focus as meaning NO new products.

I think Gary and Lisa both raise some good points. What I would like to add to the discussion is my thoughts on how Custom Search Engines fit into core search.

We recently published an interview with Google’s Shashi Seth, and then did an analysis of the program in our blog.

In our blog analysis, we discuss what we learned in our interview with Shashi, which is that the whole Google Co-Op initiative (which includes Custom Search Engines) is focused on solving problems in core search. The specific issue being addressed by the Custom Search Engine program is that the context of the use is not known. For example, if they search on “cancer” are they a patient looking for treatment information, or a doctor looking for research data.

Custom Search Engines help address this because human editors can create vertically oriented search engines that are targeted at these groups. For example here is a search engine for patients and here is a search engine for doctors. By testing them out, you can see how different the results are.

It’s my belief that Google views the Custom Search Engine program as part of their focus on core search. The reasoning behind the product was to address a shortcoming in core search. In addition, the engineering team that worked on this project is fully integrated with the rest of the core search engineering team. I would expect that more products will come out of this group over time as well.

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