Numbers reported this week by Experian Hitwise suggest that Google is slipping, but we can't help but wonder whether that's actually the case, or if it's time to redefine what we consider to be a successful search. 

Bing Takes Market from Google

This week Experian Hitwise reported that Bing and Yahoo! Search achieved the highest success rates in January 2011. In other words, more than 81 percent of searches executed resulted in a visit to a Website. Meanwhile, Google achieved a lesser success rate of 65 percent. 

Some are quick to assume this means the Google kingdom is slipping, but the Internet giant's own Matt Cutts voiced his objection to Hitwise's data with an interesting Buzz post:

It sounds like Hitwise's definition is "A successful search is defined as one where the consumer leaves the search engine after performing a search." In another words, the user does a query and then goes somewhere else. That doesn't sound the same as success to me; it just sounds like leaving the site.

Are you able to determine whether the user clicked on a search result vs. just left the search engine to go to another site? There's a difference between an abandoned search and clicking on a search result, but both result in the user searching and then going to a different site. By Hitwise's definition, wouldn't doing a query on Bing and then going to Google or Yahoo count as a "successful search" on Bing? I'm also assuming that you can't measure if the user got the information that they needed from the search results without needing to click to another site.

I think the phrase "successful search" is considerably less accurate than "left the site after searching," because someone can leave a site for lots of different reasons.

Are the Hitwise numbers flawed? Probably. But then again, so is most sample data. Perhaps it's time to redefine a successful search. What do you think?

Google Priority Inbox Goes Mobile 

Launched last fall, Priority Inbox targets the average corporate worker, who, according to a 2010 e-mail statistics report from The Radicati Group, sends and receives more than 150 messages per day.

The tool uses algorithms and tracked behavioral patterns to automatically categorize messages as they arrive in your Gmail inbox. Should Google make a mistake, you can adjust the rating manually with a set of plus and minus buttons (sort of like Pandora).

This week the Internet giant announced the same functionality available on your mobile device. Now, once you set up Priority Inbox in the desktop version of Gmail, you’ll be able to access a Priority Inbox section when you visit from your mobile browser:


Google says the feature is available for most mobile browsers that support HTML5, such as devices running Android 1.5+ and iOS 3+. Check it out here

Added Security

While online interconnectivity is great, it also means losing your password to a hacker is even more detrimental than before. In the case of Google, for example, access to one account means access to many accounts. 

Accordingly, the newest, optional layer of security for Google accounts is a two-step verification process. Much like online bank account sign-ins, the first step is a regular password and the second is a code number sent to your mobile phone. 

Here's a bit from Google's official announcement

Take your time to carefully set up 2-step verification—we expect it may take up to 15 minutes to enroll. A user-friendly set-up wizard will guide you through the process, including setting up a backup phone and creating backup codes in case you lose access to your primary phone. Once you enable 2-step verification, you'll see an extra page that prompts you for a code when you sign in to your account. After entering your password, Google will call you with the code, send you an SMS message or give you the choice to generate the code for yourself using a mobile application on your Android, BlackBerry or iPhone device.


Google also offers a "Remember verification for this computer for 30 days" option for those that don't want to be bothered too often. 

In the end the choice is up to you, but we personally can't see any reason not to be extra careful.