Tag Archives: technology

Why is Google popular?

Google’s UK statistics

Google is a popular search engine in most places in the world, except countries in which a government censors internet usage or where there is poor internet penetration, but in the United Kingdom Google is by far the most dominate search engine because:

  • it has 82.9 per cent market share
  • it is the most popular search engine in the UK
  • Alexa (2013) states that it is the best website online
  • Google is more popular than Microsoft, eBay, BBC, Amazon and Wikipedia

These statistics alone show that Google is popular but why is Google a popular search engine?

Why is Google popular and successful?

Google’s business model helps explain its popularity and success because: of their growth in market value and revenue; they have increased the number of people clicking in search news; they are a piece of picture locating software and have increased the number of staff, for example, lawyers and lobbyists. So Google’s business model allows the company to run successfully which plays a large role in promoting and maintaining Google Search.

Working at Google allows employees to take advantage of a range of benefits, such as, getting access to medical staff, funding for classes/degrees which help you learn a subject and receiving travel insurance for both personal and professional travel arrangements. Most of Google’s success of maintaining and running their offices plays a large part of Google Searches’ success.

Correlation, marketing and choice

Google’s interface is simple and easy to use. It is highly unlikely that a searcher will not know how to search and examine Google results. To explore more of the important viewpoints you might want to read my slightly older post Is Bing better than Google? because this post looks at the different perspectives which explain why Google and Bing are popular search engines.

Will Google always be popular?

This is a very difficult question but most ‘Googlers’ like Google because they return to the same search engine even though there are over 40 free other search engines available. The user behaviour of Googlers, returning to Google’s search engine rather than using a rival, indicate that Google’s success will not change anytime soon because people’s opinions and habits are difficult to break away from. So it is possible to conclude that Google will remain popular for the next few years.

A case study of Instagram and Vine

Other digital enterprises, Instagram and Vine, have recently shown that users can change their use of a digital product very quickly. Knibbs’ (2013) work looked at the number of Instagram and Vine links on Twitter’s micro-blogging site to find that Vine links have overtook those of Instagram. We can see from this example that the ‘digital world’ does change very quickly. This can be applied to Google’s search engine because a smaller search engine can overtake Google anytime. So the question here is not will Google always remain popular? It should be: what is the best search engine for results and which search engine offers the best user experience?

Photo of Bing, Yahoo and Google logo. Source

What makes Google popular?

So the short answer is their simple interface, ease of use, effective marketing, business model and staff fostering. But it is important to note that “ex-Google employees” have recently been vocal about wider issues, for example corporation tax avoidance, which shows that wider issues can also affect Google’s success or lack of.

Posted by Gerald Murphy


  1. Alexa. (2013) Google.com. [Online] [Accessed on 25th March 2013] http://is.gd/kC7Nom
  2. comScore Ranks Top Web Sites in U.K. for September. [Online] http://is.gd/jYXkPs
  3. Google. Benefits. [Online] http://is.gd/pHmjGl
  4. Knibb, K. (2013) Here’s why you shouldn’t be surprised that people share more Vines than Instagrams on Twitter. http://is.gd/svAMju
  5. NetMarketShare. (2013) Desktop Search Engine Market Share. [Online] [Accessed on 10th April 2013] http://is.gd/W9dC8V
  6. Office of National Statistics (2012) Internet and web based content. [Online] [Accessed on 16th Feb 2013] http://is.gd/uGPjU8
  7. The Economist. (2007) Who’s afraid of Google? 384(8544) Sept edition. pp. 9 and 52 — 54

Simply put: Electronic / computer cookies

What are internet cookies? What types are there?

In their simplest form cookies are text files that are sent from a web server to a users browser. This text can be altered to store unique information which can only be read by the sender.

Session / Transient Cookie
Removed from a computer once the user closes the browser (Rouse 2005: online) and can last on a person’s computer for: a few minutes; several hours; several days if a browser is left open and the computer is in sleep mode.
Performance Cookie
Analytical purpose-based cookies find out the number of keywords or volume of visitors; they do not track users nor invade privacy.
Functionality Cookie
Personalise elements of a website, such as the language (Eijk et al. 2012:60) or the “remember me” function which allows a website to remember a username and/or password.
Targeting / Marketing Cookie
Allow advertisements to become relevant by storing users’ keywords and behaviours.
Persistent / Permanent / Stored Cookie
Useful for speeding up, enhancing user experience, or remembering details of a return visitor by staying in a subfolder until they are manually deleted (All About Cookies 2013: online): Persistent cookies can remain on a computer for several months or over ten years (Cole 1997:60).
HTTP, Flash / Local Shared Object, First & Third Party Cookies

Researchers have identified other types of, and terms for, cookies:

HTTP cookies is the collective term referring to all of the above (session, performance, functionality and targeting cookies).
Flash cookies, or Local Shared Objects, are used by websites that run Adobe Flash.
First party cookies are used to identify the relationship a user has with a specific website.
Third party cookies identify a relationship a user has with a website they have not directly visited.

Photo of cookies getting sent

Photo of cookies getting sent.

Photo from Computing Verticals.

A list of the different types of cookies

So this post has identified all the different types of electronic, computer, cookies which will allow you to decide whether or not you want to delete them, deny their use via cookie banners, or allow them to be used.

If you want to find out more you can read:

Posted by: Gerald Murphy
(Twitter) @GeraldMurphySEO
(WordPress) A blog about search engines. Search “gerald murphy seo”


  1. All About Cookies (2013) About Cookies. [Online] [Accessed on 26st January 2013] http://is.gd/NgG80r
  2. Rouse, M. (2005) Transient cookie (session cookie). [Online] [Accessed on 21st December 2012] http://searchsoa.techtarget.com/definition/transient-cookie
  3. Eijk, N. Helberger, L. Kool, A. van der Plas, B. van der Sloot,, (2012) ‘Online tracking: questioning the power of informed consent.’ Info. 14(5) pp.57 – 73
  4. Peng, W. and Cisna, J. (2000) HTTP cookies – a promising technology. Online Information Review. 24(2) pp. 150 – 153

Why the searcher doesn’t always search

Have you ever surfed the Web and found information on X, without searching for X? How does this information find the searcher, rather than the searcher finding the information?

Push technology forces info

In short, push technology has changed the way we traditionally think of search engine technology. That is, push technology allows content to be delivered to a passive recipient (Dubas 2002:223). Push technology, otherwise known as Webcasting, allows information to find the searcher.

Push technology, however, can be an effective technology because important info can be easily seen, if not pushed to the user. Software updates, for example, can be pushed to the users’ screen to make sure they are up-to-date.

Push technology destroys search

Although the example above (regarding software updates) illustrates the effectivness of push technology, its use in search destroys search. The whole purpose of search is to allow the searcher to find the info they require — not allowing the search engine to force info on the searcher.

Push technology, in this context, destroys search because it does not allow the searcher to find info.

What are cookies?

Computer cookies are text files

The literature on cookies is fragmented. For example, AboutCookies.org (2012) is an official website which is endorsed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (UK) that recognises three types of cookies: permanent (persistent or stored) cookies, session (or transient) cookies and flash (Local Shared Object) cookies (Pinsent Masons no date: online). Whereas, other sources will argue that there are four types of cookies: session cookies, performance cookies, functionality cookies and targeting cookies (Rouse 2005: online).

The technology behind cookies is well understood. That is to say, cookies are comprised of text files which are sent from a Web server to a user’s browser (Peng 2000:150). The text within cookies can be altered to allow cookies to store unique information. For this reason, cookies can be used to identify a specific computer. Cookies cannot identify a particular person because several people might share the same computer.

However, researchers have identified other types of, and terms for, cookies:

HTTP cookies
HTTP cookies are the collective term which refers to the common types of cookies (i.e. session, performance, functionality and targeting cookies).
Flash cookies
Flash cookies, or Local Shared Objects, are used by websites that run Adobe Flash.
First part cookies
A first party cookie is a term used to identify a relationship a user has with a specific website.
Third party cookies
A third party cookie is a term used to identify a relationship a user has with a website they have not directly visited.

BBC (2012) concludes that cookies can only be accessed and amended by the server who sent it/them (online: no date).

Without cookies certain processes would become difficult to carry out. For example, an electronic commerce (e-commerce) website can allow one user to have several items in their basket and pay for these items in one process. Thus, cookies are useful for certain processes online.

However, these text files are not broken down, line by line to the end user and are often encoded (Pierson 2011:34; Wills & Zeljkovic 2011:53). Therefore, the exact extent to which cookies are used for in a search remains unknown. Specifically, cookies are used within a search, but their use of that search is not precisely known. As well as other methods of data collection (e.g. encoding of a Web address), cookies are used to track users (Wills & Zeljkovic 2011:53).

Search engines analyse user interactions just as a webmaster, for instance, would monitor and analyse the interactions of a client’s website (Aljifri and Navarro 2004:379). Unlike standard websites, search engines can easily record a person’s searches because they are providing a service (Aljifri and Navarro 2004:379).


  1. AboutCookies.org (2012) Cookies: Frequently Asked Questions. [Online] [Accessed on 21st December 2012] http://www.aboutcookies.org/Default.aspx?page=5
  2. Aljifri, H. Navarro, D, S. (2004) Search engines and privacy. Computers & Security. 23 (5) pp. 379 – 388.
  3. BBC. (2012) About cookies. [Online] [Accessed on 21st December 2012] http://www.bbc.co.uk/privacy/cookies/about/?source_url=/privacy/bbc-cookies-policy.shtml
  4. Peng, W. (2000) HTTP cookies – a promising technology. Online Information Review. 24(2) pp. 150 – 153
  5. Rouse, M. (2005) Transient cookie (session cookie). [Online] [Accessed on 21st December 2012] http://searchsoa.techtarget.com/definition/transient-cookie
  6. Wills, C, E. Zeljkovic, M. (2011) A personalized approach to web privacy: awareness, attitudes and action. Information Management & Computer Security, 19(1) pp.53 – 73

What might a librarian call a ‘quality’ source?

In order to find out why people within the information industry pay for information I got 14 librarians to complete a self-completed questionnaire. This post identifies what makes quality information*.

What makes subscription services better?

There is no single answer to this question. The responses seem to suggest that paid, subscription services offer better quality information. So, what makes quality information? The following (ordered) list addresses what MMU Librarians suggest is quality information. In parenthesis (round brackets) the number indicates how many librarians shared this view within this survey.

  1. Peer reviewed (8)
  2. Academic (4)
  3. Authoritative (4)
  4. Better quality (4)
  5. Relevant results (3)

What makes quality information?

From a personal viewpoint, a good search is a search which is relevant to the search query. But defining quality can be a little tricky because there are so many words to describe quality.

From an interface viewpoint
There is less clutter on subscription services. Furthermore, this interface is uniform (i.e. it does not change for certain users).

From a search engine results pages’ (SERP) viewpoint
Quality results are: in date, accurate (because they match to the search query), indexes bigger selection (possibility because the deep web is used in their resources), relevant results (because each hit is related to the search query), and, more focused.
From a creators’ viewpoint
Subscription services offer editorial / scholarly resources. This has an impact on quality control. For this reason, subscription services are unlikely to have completely irrelevant hits. It is also worth noting that anyone can publish on the Surface Web.

Do paid services offer better quality information?

The short answer is yes. Paid subscription services are more likely to be relevant to a search query. It is worth noting, though, both paid and unpaid services produce irrelevant hits within their SERPs because the current algorithms do not calculate a positive or negative outcome for accuracy.

In other words, if a search engine thinks a document is a little relevant, it will show in the SERP, even if a relevant term is contained within a document in a completely different context.

*This is not necessarily a librarians viewpoint. This study was completed in Manchester Metropolitan Universities’ largest library, the Sir Kenneth Green Library.

A different take on the internet

The Internet refers to the physical structure (cables, nodes etc) of how we can connect to one another online. Whereas the Web is how we interact and communicate with the Internet (e.g. e-mail, or an internet browser).

Who controls the Internet?

As you already know, I am completing a dissertation on search engines. One of the latest readings is from Goldsmith, J., Wu, T. (2006) ‘Who controls the internet?’ Oxford University Press: New York.

I thought these points were interesting

information overload easily occurs on the online world (p. 52)
This is because anyone can publish information online. WordPress is a good example of this because it shows that anyone can publish a blog, even without knowledge on a given subject.

Does this mean that their is a lot of rubbish online? Maybe!
The Internet is a personalised medium
Goldsmith and Wu (2006) use a good example of Amazon.co.uk as an example of personalisation because most visitors are greeted by name on their homepage.
Does personalisation make the Internet a better place? Or, does it allow us to make our way through all the rubbish, clearing a path for you online?