Monday, December 29, 2008

Telegraph thumped on the Andy Burnham interview


The Telegraph's interview with UK 's Culture Secretary bubbled up over the weekend and is now catching the attention of the international blogs.

The screen shot overhead is the Google.uk SERPS. You would think this was a navigational search - I started with [daily telegraph]. The onebox from Google News serves the first punch - arch rival newspaper The Guardian steals the top slot. I doubt Robert Winnett, deputy political editor at the Telegraph and who wrote the story, will be happy.

Google doesn't do the Telegraph any favours with the second result either. It's an Andy Burnham story but it's the wrong one. In fact, Google UK places the right Telegraph story in the embed third position with the Guardian in the #4 and #5 positions.

The search results are interesting because they highlight one of the many problems with Burnham's suggestion.
  • He's talking about regulating websites - but websites are dynamic. Google's search results depend entirely on what you search for. Would Google get a PG rating or an 18 rating? What rating would Facebook get?
  • Websites pull content in from different geographic locations. The Techtree.com image in the top right comes from India.
  • I got these results because I searched from the UK and a UK based ISP. If I did the very same Google search from one of the many National Express trains (free wi-fi) that criss-cross UK then I would have received Swedish results. As it happens the ISP which provides the wi-fi to National Express trains in the UK is based in Sweden.
  • There's a solution to this already - the Platform for Internet Content Selection. No one uses the PICS label though. In fact, it was an easy to spot SEO signature back circa 2003.
  • If this happens - Microsoft will be pleased and Google has a problem. Can you imagine trying to provide a good search experience when websites may or may not be available tending on which user is logged into the PC and which settings are active? Advantage Microsoft; they'll be in a better place to integrate Live Search in with Windows (Windows 7, probably) so that this information is detected.

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