Thursday, March 23, 2006

Google Finance to Google Flights

Money vertical searchers/aggregators like moneynet and even news-profit-through-money-search sites like the famous Motley Fool will be breathing a sigh of relief this week.

Google Finance is not a threat to them. This is not a new money aggregrator but instead more of a FT style summary of big businesses around the world. Yeah; it has the usual American bias but there is Google Finance UK too. In other words, you can't search Google Finance for a mortgage for yourself or a new credit card. Why not? This requires the user to tailor the search with some pretty specific information - the mortgage you're after, your salary, whether you're applying alone or with a partner, your partners salary, etc. These details tend to then query databases directly. This is not Google's style. Google tends not to plug into other data sources as directly preferring to take the information off web pages (one exception being the flight onebox which may be powered thusly). After all, reading web is what Google does best.

Instead we have reports for large companies. The system nearly works. If I search for BA I do not get to the British Airways (BA) summary but to Boeing's instead. Why? Boeing has the BA stock ticker. I get Boeing even if I search Google Finance on .co.uk and even though the company trades on the New York Stock Exchange rather than the London Stock Exchange. The American wing of BA trades on the NYSE with the ticker BAB and so we find the profile under BAB.

Perhaps www.google.co.uk/finance should simply redirect to www.google.com/finance. It would seem to be more appropriate.

Well done to the news sites - especially Reuters - which power so much of the content. There are some interesting links in there though. While checking out BA I could but not help notice the links to CheapFlights. CheapFlights isn't a news source, it's a very commercial and very SEO savvy flight vertical search. Is this fair? ... Actually, it seems to be simply because you can find the very same story in Google News. Whether CheapFlights should be in Google News is another matter but it gives the rest of us reason to keep trying.



Other aspects of Google Finance are very search geeky. Google blocks spider access to these pages via its main robots.txt. This means those links to the news and finance sites are not PageRank carrying. The AJAX is slightly off Google's norm insofar as that the event driven text is SEO and accessibility friendly (rather than being produced by JavaScript). Since the page is blocked to spiders the SEO benefits of the style are pointless but it's good to see Google make another stab at accessibility.

In summary - I can see why Jeremy Zawodny is disappointed that Yahoo didn't make more effort on their own Yahoo Finance. Google Finance is niche but good.

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