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Upon returning from my lunch meeting today I noticed a new icon on my Facebook profile asking me if I wanted to start using Graph Search, and of course, I canceled my next meeting and started to geek out! Below you will find screen shots from the tutorial & search functions. 

Graph Search Begins

The tutorial show an example broad search term. Just like Google‘s keyword recommendations, when searching for “Redmond High School” other search options are displayed.

The tutorial moves on to show an example that allows me to search my social graphic for a more exact request.  Based on the type of search (my friends who), additional keyword options are displayed. Notice that I can ask Facebook to show me my friends who went to Redmond High School before 2012 or after 2012, how cool is that? How will you search your social graph?

Then, my friends appear on result listings. My lucky friend Dianna Johnson, now SEO celebrity, was chosen by the tutorial. Relevant information about my friends is displayed. I wonder if the information that is displayed would change if I searched for “Friends in Redmond who like Opera”

Graph search allows us to search different categories of content that we have engaged with. I wonder what type of sponsored content I will be able to place in the Games or Music category!

On the right side of a Social Graph result listing the ability to refine the result listing is given.

Looking for a new job or a contact that works at a company that you are trying to reach out to? Well, use the Work and Education filter on your result listing.

Do you want to know what friends like poker or opera music, play games using Facebook apps, or have similar likes and interests as you do? Social Graph search will help you with that.

Graph search is just beginning, and I’m excited to see what the possibilities are.  Stand by for more insights from the social search front!

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Facebook’s New Messenger Design Is A Rare Simplification

Facebook is a many-headed social hydra. There’s the original platform, built around the newsfeed; numerous acquisitions, from the photo-sharing platform Instagram to the international communication company Whatsapp; and spinoffs like Messenger, which is available within the Facebook mainframe and as a standalone app. The company has been accused of sending spam notifications on its main site, cluttering once-beloved apps like Instagram with unwanted new features, and intentionally designing all of its apps to monopolize our attention. But it announced Tuesday that Messenger is about to get simpler.

Instead of introducing tons of new features or crowding every page with features and graphics, the fourth iteration of Messenger is stripped down to the most essential functions. Yes, there are new color gradients for message bubbles, the usual supply of infinite gifs and stickers, and a tweak to the logo. But users will also see a serious Marie Kondo-ing (author of the bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up), as Messenger bucks the busyness trend and reduces its existing nine tabs to just three—chats, people, and discover.

The origins of Messenger trace back more than a decade, to Facebook Chat, which debuted in 2008. Nested within the larger social network, it functioned as a sort of an instant messaging service—a slightly sleeker AIM. In 2011, the chat service was rolled out as a standalone app for iOS and Android phones. Today, Messenger supports text-based notes and photos, voice calls and video chats, and even gaming. It can be used by with or without a Facebook account. According to its parent company, 1.3 billion people now use the communication service each month.

As Messenger’s usership has grown, so too has its built-in features. The app now includes a Venmo-like ability to send money directly through the app, and new ways to decorate messages like stickers and emojis, all of which are designed to appeal to customers on most continents. But some argued the continuous growth made the platform unwieldy, crowded, or uninviting—three things an attention-based service never wants to be. So Messenger decided to get back to basics.

Facebook Messenger new tabs setup. Facebook

Decluttering an app seems easy: just toss out the features you don’t like and utilize the rest. But simplifying the platform took roughly two years and the expertise of user interface designers, researchers with a keen eye for human behavior, and test users from eight countries to get right.

“Together with our research team, Messenger designers travel often to see how the app is used by people everywhere,” Loredana Crisan, Messenger’s product design director, told PopSci over email. Many communication preferences seem universal, she says. Seven in 10 people report that the app’s ease of use was its most important feature—a stat that emboldened the design team as they set about streamlining the app.

Researchers also found that the little draft button in the upper-right-hand corner wasn’t as important as they thought, according to Messenger’s head of product Stan Chudnovsky. Instead of starting a conversation from scratch, most users found the friend they wanted to message by scrolling through recent conversations. That’s why the relaunched Chat tab has been cleaned up and offers more chats at first glance; you can six recent messages visible in Facebook’s press rendering, compared to just four in the previous version.

Other message preferences seem to be shaped by regional culture, presenting a challenge to the designers of an app with global demand. “[I]n some countries, like Romania, my home-country, people spend a lot of time connected on voice calls, while in the [United States] text chat is more common,” Crisan writes. “Another difference we see often is around visual messaging: in Asia, stickers are very popular while in other regions people prefer gifs or emoji.” The result is that Messenger’s main page is standardized around three fundamental needs, but offers endless customization within each chat, where users can still find sticker sets, add nicknames, or assign conversations colors and emojis.

In addition to the glitz and glam, the retooled Messenger app will also have a few new functional services. The Chat and People tabs connect you to your friends and family, but Discover will connect users to businesses, encouraging them to message restaurants or stores for reservations or information about what’s in stock. The much-hyped group video chat, which can accommodate as many as 50 people, is available. And practical features like bill splitting and polling have also arrived.

Even with years of development and lots of pre-launch testing under the belt, the design team is anxiously awaiting public feedback on the redesign. “The biggest challenge is the risk of breaking the experience for them, since change is almost always unwelcome at the start,” Crisan wrote. Fewer tabs should make the app easier to navigate. And designers took pains to improve contrast on the page and make the user interface easier to read. “But right at the beginning it can feel disorienting, like someone came in and moved all your furniture around without asking you first.”

Fortunately, when compared to the sensory overload seen on its sister apps, Messenger’s realignment feels rather zen.

Google To Introduce Conversational Ai Into Its Search Engine

Google has made a bold move in integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into its search tools, signaling the company’s commitment to compete against OpenAI, which is backed by Microsoft, and other AI chatbots. According to Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, the opportunity space is even bigger now.

Microsoft, Meta, and many other tech firms are rushing to incorporate AI technologies into their products and services, and Google’s integration of AI into its search tools is a strategic move to stay ahead of the competition. The notion that chatbots pose a threat to Google’s search engine business was rejected by Pichai, who emphasized that the integration of AI into search tools will allow for direct user interaction with large language models.

In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the significance of Google’s integration of AI into its search tools, and how it positions the company in the race to incorporate AI into consumer goods.

Google has recently announced its plans to integrate Conversational AI into its search engine to increase productivity rates amidst pressure from AI chatbots such as ChatGPT. In an interview, CEO Sundar Pichai stated that the integration of Chat AI would help supercharge Google’s ability to respond to a wide range of search queries while engaging users in the context of search engines. This move is set to distinguish Google’s search engine from its competitors and enhance its capability to handle user queries.

Google has been a pioneer in large language models (LLMs) for years, and its decision to integrate AI into its search tools demonstrates its commitment to competing against OpenAI, Microsoft, and other AI chatbots. This move is a clear indication of Google’s intention to stay ahead of the curve, and not be left behind in the race to incorporate AI technologies into products and services.

There are concerns that chatbots, particularly the AI-powered ChatGPT developed by OpenAI, pose a threat to Google’s search engine business. Microsoft’s integration of ChatGPT into Bing has brought about a revolutionary change in the technology industry, and it’s being perceived as a threat to many giants.

However, Pichai rejected the notion that chatbots pose a threat to Google’s search engine business. Instead, he emphasized that the integration of AI into search tools will allow for direct user interaction with LLMs, which will enhance the user experience.

Also read: Google Bard vs ChatGPT: What’s The Difference?

Google has been planning to introduce Chat AI features into its search engine to enhance its productivity rates. Sundar Pichai stated that the integration of Chat AI into the search engine would enable users to engage with Large Language Models (LLMs) effortlessly in the context of search engines. This development will enable users to ask queries and receive responses in a conversational manner.

Google has been facing competitive pressure from AI chatbots like ChatGPT, which prompted the company to develop its conversational AI technology. Although Google’s search engine accounts for more than half of Alphabet Inc.’s revenue, the company could not incorporate its conversational AI technology until now. Pichai stated that adding a chatbot would not threaten the search business but would instead increase the opportunity space.

Also read: How to Get Started with Google Bard

In the interview with WSJ, Pichai also revealed that Google is experimenting with several new search products, including ones that let users ask follow-up questions to their original queries. This move is in line with Google’s commitment to enhancing the user experience and providing more personalized search results.

Google opened its AI chatbot Bard for public access in March but did not integrate it with the search engine. However, Pichai’s recent remarks suggest that Google intends to enable direct user interaction with its extensive LLMs via its search engine.

Google has been generating LLMs that can respond to users’ prompts in a human-like manner. The company has now incorporated its technology into its search engine, which is set to enhance its capability to respond to a wide range of search queries. With the integration of Chat AI, users will be able to raise inputs and engage with LLMs in the context of search engines effortlessly.

Google recently announced the layoff of around 12,000 employees, which accounts for 6% of its workforce. Pichai stated that the company was unable to achieve its target of becoming 20% more productive, which prompted the layoffs. Ruth Porat, Google’s Chief Financial Officer, stated that the company would make spending cuts ranging from dining facilities to computing infrastructure critical for creating and running strong AI algorithms.

Google’s plans to integrate conversational AI into its search engine is set to distinguish it from its competitors while enhancing its productivity rates. With the integration of Chat AI, users will be able to engage with LLMs in the context of search engines, making it easier to receive conversational responses to their queries. Although Google faced cost-cutting pressure, it remained committed to investing in AI efforts to accelerate work on new products. If successful, Google’s integration of conversational AI into its search engine will help it maintain its position as a leading search engine in the industry.

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Google Combining Search Console & Analytics Data Into One Report

Google is working on a way to combine data from Search Console and Analytics together in one report that is accessible from either service.

Site owners have been receiving email notices via Search Console with information about an upcoming trial of the new report.

— Andrew Girdwood (@AndrewGirdwood) June 22, 2023

The email states Google will begin allowing the export of data from Analytics and a linked Search Console property.

It’s a trial experience that only affects one Search Console property, which will be indicated in the email.

Site owners will receive another notification when the new report becomes available. Google estimates the report is a few weeks out from being ready to launch.

If, for any reason, site owners want to opt out of this trial they can unlink their Search Console and Google Analytics properties.

Google’s email has a large button that links directly to the page where site owners can manage their integrations between Search Console and GA.

The only situation I can think of where it might be beneficial to unlink these properties is if multiple people have varying level of access to them.

For example, you may have given someone access to your Google Analytics property but not your Search Console property.

In this instance, the person would be able to view both properties’ data when the integrated report rolls out.

You can prevent that from happening by unlinking the properties before the trial begins.

Related: A Complete Guide to Google Analytics

Benefits of Using an Integrated Report

Why use an integrated report over viewing both sets of data separately?

Other than the shear convenience factor alone, being able to view both sets of data side-by-side makes it easier to identify correlations you otherwise may have missed.

Google Analytics tracks user activity on a website, and Search Console tracks user activity in SERPs, so the potential use cases of combining the data is nearly endless.

As an example, you can quickly determine if adding review schema to product pages had a measurable impact on traffic.

You may also be able to find correlations between pages that saw a spike in traffic one month, and keywords your site was showing up for more frequently during that month.

As Andrew Girdwood states in his tweet at the beginning of this article, an integrated report can make it easier to see which keywords may be driving traffic to which pages.

There are still a lot of unknowns at this point, as Google hasn’t provided any information about this feature beyond what’s contained in the initial email.

As it relates to the trial period, we don’t know if it will be limited to a select audience or if everyone will get an opportunity to participate.

I suspect we’ll learn more in the coming weeks as Google gets closer to launching the integrated report.

In the meantime, if you have email notifications disabled, make sure to check your message center in Search Console to avoid missing any important details.

Related: A Complete Guide to the Google Search Console

Live Search Gets A Clean Up, Looks More Like Google Search

The good thing when you’re into the search engine business and you’re up against only two competitors is that you can do away with copying their site’s format. And it looks like, that’s just what the Live Search team is doing when they redesigned the Live Search site.

The Live Search blog highlighted the changes on their site with the following changes :

Search box near results The new Live Search header and search box is slimmed down from a heavy piece of UI into sleeker, simpler elements. Bringing the search box into alignment with the results and into the body moves it closer to where users are looking and flattens out the visual bumps between it and the results.

Room to breathe on the page Something else you’ll see on a large screen (lucky you!) is our centered, fixed-width page, allowing for a more thoughtful, predictable experience as richer search content and wider screens become the norm.

Crisp, clean type We’ve also made changes to our color and typography. Our decision to use Arial and the new color palette was based not only on our desire to improve readability and consistency, but also on rounds of testing to find the right combination.

Intuitive video search For our new video search experience, the team focused on activities and behaviors that make video search different. We focused on simplicity — cutting irrelevant pixels and text — and power — investing in enhanced preview for video — both of which contribute to the overall simple, yet powerful experience.

Health results integrated from many sources You’ll see in health search that we’ve created a way for users to pull together health information from many different sources, digestible all in one place.

This is how the new Live Search results page looks like with its new color palette and typography:

And this is how Google Search results page looks like:

They look more the same now, dont’ they? Although, I would have to admit, Live Search looks uncluttered and cleaner especially the heading part. But I still love Google search though, for the simple reason that it gives SEJ as the no. 8 result for the keywords “search engine news”. While Live Search displays it somewhere in the second page and it’s not even SEJ’s main URL.

Time For A Yahoo Microsoft Search Partnership

Yahoo and Microsoft merger rumors are heating up again as Yahoo board members were reportedly at the table again yesterday, discussing a partnership between Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing Search Technology. It feels like it has been years since the Yahoo Microsoft search rumors started heating up, and over that time Yahoo has been stripped down more of an efficient content & search driven entity, while Microsoft has vastly improved its internal search technology with the launch of Bing.

Coupled with recent news of a 17% Microsoft plunge in sales last quarter, which will assist Yahoo’s leverage in these negotiations, perhaps the time for a merger or partnership is now.

Via paidContent :

One interesting change in events is Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz changing her stance on Microsoft Search, in a statement which may foreshadow a new deal between the two companies :

“I actually think Bing is a good product. I think they’ve done a good job, but unfortunately they are only a month into it. I think Microsoft should be given kudos for Bing.”

This statement by Bartz is a bit different than her statement on Bing from only a month ago (via Ars) :

“I don’t know if Bing means a whole lot to Yahoo. I think people will go to Bing because they are curious. I think they will get some uplift, but people will keep their same habits.”

Sounds like a bit of a political change of mindset to me. Will these kind words from Bartz help open up more dialog between Yahoo and Microsoft? That decision is ultimately up to Yahoo, but with concerns over the legality of a partnership, or rather if the partnership will be held up by regulators, may slow down such a decision.

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