The Demise of “Ten Blue Links:” Greatly Exaggerated

By  |  Friday, August 5, 2011 at 10:31 am

The New York Times’ Steve Lohr has an interesting post on Oren Etzioni, a University of Washington researcher who’s published a paper calling for greater innovation in search. He calls for new approaches to search user interfaces–especially on phones, which are fundamentally different from PCs and used for different sorts of searches.

Etzioni speaks disparagingly of search results in the form of “ten blue links,” and says “they don’t cut it any more.” “Ten blue links” is a code-word for “Google-style search,” and people–especially people who work for Google rivals–are always disparaging it. Yet nobody’s come up with anything radically different that consumers seem to like a hundredth as much as they like Google’s ten blue link.

I vote for lots of experimentation with new kinds of search myself. (Siri, the iPhone app that Apple bought last year, uses voice recognition and semantic parsing of your input to do something that’s very little like Google, and very cool.) But for now, to riff on a famous Churchill quote, it’s possible that ten blue links are the worst interface for search–except for all the other ones.

 

 
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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Bill Snyder Says:

    I'm not too impressed with Lohr's post. If search engines worked the way they did 10 years ago, when the user was confronted with thousands upon thousands of random hits, I'd agree. But the improvements of the last few years, particularly the advances in relevance, make the "blue link" approach pretty darn helpful. That's not to say it won't change, of course it will, but I think it will be a while and whatever takes its place will have to be impressive indeed.

  2. Andrew Says:

    I think for where we are with search engine technology, Google's "ten blue links" has generated a lot of interest towards the SEO field and the increase of bloggers trying to make their way to the top. The "ten blue links" is the best there is as for browser searching. At the same time, we have begun a new era a little while back where smartphones might have to resort to voice input as the mobile keyboards (although convenient) are too small to make searching convenient. That's something that's gonna happen quite naturally.

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