Hot off the press:

Google has just announced “Universal Search” (Sergi Brin was in attendance), a moniker for an effort to integrati several channels into the Google search results: Google local, videos, images, books etc. This is bringing together several parts that seemed apparently disparate until now (You Tube, Publishing project, Google Local etc.).

To make this happen, Google has implemented a new scoring algorithm that will be able to compare information from different media (comparing Apples and Oranges as they put it). An example would be whether to rank a video of Martin Luther King higher than an text article about him. Youtube and Google videos will be integrated into the search. The vidoes will be embedded in the search page and the user can view the video without leaving the page. In the initial phase, they will also be pulling in videos from select video sites like Metacafe. This will be a thumbnail that will direct the user to the third-party video site.

Clearly, this will increase the time spent/user on the Google.com site. It’s as if the search results page is becoming a content page to some degree.This may have interesting Advertising implications and may open the door for Google to experiment with display ads on the search page.

Google will also start offering experimental search pieces at www.google.com/experimental
Users will be able to sign up to integrate these experimental features into the search results they see on their screen.

The Google stock is already showing a spike today. It almost seems like Google timed the announcement to prop up the sagging stock price (the YTD growth has been under 2% for 2007).

May 10, 2007

Google has started showing some sponsored search ads at the bottom of the page i.e. below the organic search results. Here is a screenshot –

May 2, 2007

In case you are looking for traffic trends, the following three sites are generally accepted as standard for free sources. Couple of them have traffic growth graphs:

alexa
Data sourced from tool bar downloads by users.

statsoholic
Formerly Alexoholic. It sources data from Alexa, but has better presentation. Amazon (which owns Alexa) is trying to block statoholic from having full access to their API.

compete
Toolbar download by users.

quantcast
Arrive at numbers based on statistical calculations on internet traffic data. Quantcast have a very good interface in my opinion. Taking a different tack from others, they are encouraging and giving companies the capability to correct the traffic numbers that quantcast is reporting for the particular company. However, it is not very clear what incentive companies have to correct/share this data with the general public.

You will see differences in numbers between these sources, but their direction of trend should be in the same direction. However, here is a case where Peter Rip found the numbers were moving in different directions.