. . . Tuesday December 18, 2007

Alphabet Net: Suggested Search Three Years Later

Three years ago, Google introduced a new Labs feature called Suggest. The idea is that as you type letters into a searchbox, Google’s algorithms attempt to predict the rest of the word(s). When the feature first launched (you can now find it in many search and tool bars including Firefox), I performed a one letter test. I typed in one letter and tracked what Google would suggest based on that one tap of the key.

Today, I did the same test. While many of the results are the same, there are some interesting differences. First, there is the rise of Google itself. Whether it is simply algorithmic or not, Google products own seven of the ten displayed suggestions for the letter G (Orkut as the first suggestion for the letter O could give one pause). Second, there is the rise of the ecommerce players (Is this related to the holidays? But I ran the test at almost the exact time of year in 2004). Third, unlike three years ago, there are some just plain weird results that I can’t quite figure out. Fourth, porn still does not lead the pack for the letter P, but two adult sites I had never heard of (and I’ve been doing the research since the day I got dsl) have appeared in the list. Fifth, there are some new sites in the list that you may have heard of including Facebook and Youtube (twice). Finally, Pell was still nowhere to be found when I typed in the letter P, but at least Paris Hilton was ousted from the top spot as well.

Hard to remember a time when Tara Reid was topping Target, eh?

2004 2007
a: amazon amazon
b: best buy best buy
c: cnn craigslist
d: dictionary dictionary
e: ebay ebay
f: firefox facebook
g: games google
h: hotmail hotmail
i: ikea imdb
j: jokes john lewis
k: kazaa kohls
l: lyrics limewire
m: mapquest mapquest
n: news next
o: online dictionary orkut
p: paris hilton paypal
q: quotes qvc
r: recipes redtube
s: spybot sears
t: tara reid target
u: ups utube
v: verizon verizon
w: weather wikipedia
x: xbox xtube
y: yahoo youtube
z: zip codes zoey zane

Yahoo has since served up their own Search Assist. Where do they differ with Google when put to the one letter test?

j: jessica alba
l: lowes
m: myspace
n: nfl
p: photobucket
q: qvc
r: renne sloan scott baio
u: ups
w: walmart
x: xbox 360
z: zip codes

Concentration is important!