Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Normal People haven't heard of Live Search

Following on from my last post on "Why do normal people not use Live Search?", I think I might have found the answer. I'm not convinced "non techies" have heard of Live Search. I asked a couple of folks yesterday who don't work in IT. They have heard of Google, they have heard of Yahoo, they have never heard of Live Search.

Now I did surmise yesterday that for normal searches that Google, Yahoo and Live probably return a result set which are similar (or good enough), so these days it doesn't really matter so much which search engine you use (for normal searches). This of course was not always the case hence why most people moved to Google and stuck to it.

So If I was Microsoft how would I tackle Google? I think I might take a leaf out of Apple's book and go for the cool factor. However this requires lots of marketing, imaging and branding (probably still cheaper than buying Yahoo however).

Also I think the stuff that is really great is things like the near real time statistics as part of the results, e.g. if you search for a sports team you get the last result, next game etc. Try and save folks that extra click. I would maybe focus in on that stuff.

I would probably take a 2 prong approach try and convince Techies and Normal folks independently, as the reasons for using Google are very similar (historically) but very different (now). A cool brand is not going to convince techies that they should switch to Live for their technical searches (results matter in this case), just as much as good result sets (unless they are dramatically different i.e. basically a brand new way of doing things) are not going to convince non techies (as the results are generally good enough) so you need to give them something else. I personally think that something else is UX, Image and Brand.

One real opportunity is to make use of the work they did with Tafiti to look at different methods of search.

Silverlight provides a real opportunity to provide a UX that Google will find difficult to compete with. Isolated storage to store previous searches, different visualisations on searches, the list is endless.


Pop Catalin Sever said...

First of all, I'm disappointed with Live Search results, it never manages to pull out a tricky search. When even toy need some obscure thing hidden somewhere around the internet, Live search just doesn't cut it (and I mostly search for obscure things hidden on the internet :) I'm long time done with simple searches for simple things)

I really tried to use Live search for a while and abandoned it altogether, I wasn't half as useful as Google. I think this is where Microsoft should improve their search. Marketing through Alpha Geeks, if they are happy about it they'll start blogging, spreading the word, and recommend it, and they more Geeks will pick it up then the common folk will follow.

My opinion is that common folk follow their reference geeks more than any marketing campaign, even if it's picturing something very cool.

Take my mom for example I told her only once that google is the better search engine, and she uses it ever since (gave up, yahoo search and msn, she was using both to search)

My 2 cents on Live Search.

chrishayuk said...

I totally agree with your comments regarding tricky search, how I am basing my opinion on when i tried to use Live Search a year ago. I am now trying to record all my searches and compare the Live and Google results.

I do agree with your point about following reference geeks, my wife has never heard of Live but she occasionaly uses Mahalo, because I pointed her in that direction once. She mainly uses Yahoo or Google.

I totally agree which will feed onto my next article.

Thanks for your feedback

Herman said...

Live.com keeps failing for me. Results and performance are nowhere near Google. My.live.com doesn't even show anything other than a search box and a message that my page is updating, where iGoogle can to pretty much anything.

I try because I'm interested in these developments. None of my friends are. Google works for them so why switch? I wouldn't even advise it to them.

chrishayuk said...


Again thanks for your points.

This is one of the things I am also hearing, Google works why should I switch?

As I said I want to keep an open mind. I use Microsoft products for most things(notable exceptions are search, mail and blogging).

So I'm just curious why I still use Google and why people with more common searches still prefer Google

hi said...

I am a .net developer. But still I prefer google for as my search engine. The results returned are more precise and the corrections are too good. Even if my query is not upto the mark the results are always better.

chrishayuk said...

thanks again for the feedback.

Your comments seem to reflect my own general impression that most folks perceive that Google has better results than Live. I certainly believed that, as I say I am going to experiment a little and find out if it is the case. As I'm not so sure now.

billreiss said...

I switched to Live Search a couple of months ago, and do like some things better, like sports scores as you mentioned. The one thing that makes me go back to google sometimes is blog search, but from what I understand that's coming soon...

chrishayuk said...


How do you find technical searches compare since you moved?

billreiss said...

Well since I'm pretty bleeding edge most of my technical seraching is in blogs, so that's still in google.

PuppyDogV said...

This may be of interest on this subject