Does Google Find ‘Something Different’ About You?

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'Something Different Group' of Skype

Although we believe it’s been around for a while, it was only recently that we stumbled upon the ‘Something different’ section on the left-hand panel of Google search results. According to Google, the set of links in this section shows some queries that may be in the same category as your original search. These alternative queries can help you discover webpages that are indirectly related to your search.

For example, if you search for Skype, you could see Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk and MSN Messenger, which are Skype-equivalent services. Likewise, the ‘Something Different Group’ (SDG) for Amazon’s search results shows leading retailers like Barnes & Noble, NewEgg, Walmart, Circuit City and Best Buy.

Different pages on Google’s website explain how Google determines what links to show in a keyword’s SDG and how SDG is different from the “Related searches” section listed at the bottom of the search results page. For the purpose of this post, it’s relevant to note that “Something different” relies on web documents and users’ search queries to identify concepts that that may be related or are in the same category whereas “Related searches” generally help you drill-down further into the given keyword. For example, if you search for [giraffe], “Something different” may list other animals like zebras and elephants, while “Related searches” might delve deeper into your original search with things like giraffe pictures, giraffe facts and safari animals.

From the aforementioned criteria used by Google for building the ‘Something different’ section, we might be led to conclude that companies with poor web presence will be missing this section altogether. The following screenshot proves that this is indeed the case for a couple of such companies.

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Poor Web Presence Means No SDG Section!

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Andersen Consulting is still around - at least in Accenture's SDG!

On the other hand, long-dead companies that once had strong web presence achieve rebirth in the SDG of someone or the other. Witness, for example, Andersen Consulting – a company that downed its shutters in 2001 on the back of Enron’s bankruptcy – in Accenture’s SDG.

In the next part of this post, we shall explore reciprocal relationships between a company and its SDG members and how they impact the business development efforts of different companies in a given industry.

Spoiler Alert: In the absence of any guarantee of reciprocity, we might see the birth of a new industry, which we’re calling Something Different Optimization. SDO could very well turn out to be the next Holy Grail of gaming Google Search.

http://www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/answer.py?
hl=en&answer=180739
In the left-hand panel of a search results page, a set
of links in the “Something different” section shows
some queries that may be in the same category as your
original search. These alternative queries can help you
discover webpages that are indirectly related to your
search.
For example, if you search for [ Amazon ], you might
see Barnes & Noble, NewEgg, Walmart, Circuit City and
Best Buy listed in the “Something different” section.
This feature allows you to explore other concepts that
you might find interesting.
How does Google determine what links to show?
“Something different” relies on web documents and
users’ search queries to identify concepts that that
may be related or are in the same category. Among other
factors, our algorithms look at the terms that users
search for during the same session, since they are more
likely to be related. We also consider whether the
terms appear in similar contexts on websites, such as
in the same table. For example, if you search for [
soccer ], we might notice that web documents and users’
search queries often connect soccer to other sports
like tennis and basketball. These searches are
algorithmically determined based on a number of purely
objective factors without human intervention.
How are the queries in “Something different” different
than the “Related searches” listed at the bottom of the
page?
“Something different” helps you discover concepts that
may be related or in the same category as your original
search, such as different sports, foods, or places.
“Related searches” generally help you drill-down into a
specific subject. For example, if you search for [
giraffe ], “Something different” may list other animals
like zebras and elephants, while “Related searches”
might delve deeper into your original search with
things like giraffe pictures, giraffe facts, and safari
animals.
Something Different Group (SDG)
It can be expected from Google’s criteria for building
the ‘Something different’ section that companies with
low web presence are unlikely to have this section at
all. The following screenshot extracts show that this
is indeed the case.
In fact, it probably isn’t even required for a company
to be around to figure in an SDG – strong web presence
along suffices, as Accenture’s SDG indicates: It
includes Accenture Consulting, a company that ceased to
exist in the wake of the Enron bankruptcy!
Intuitively, you’d expect a reciprocal relationship
between a company and the others in its SDG. In other
words, if Y belongs to the SDG of X, you’d expect X to
belong to the SDG of Y.
This is often the case. For example, Wipro’s SDG
includes Infosys and Infosys’s SDG does include Wipro.
However, you’d also notice that their SDGs are not
identical. While Wipro’s SDG does not include Mastek,
Infosys’s SDG does.
By exploring further, you’d notice that a reciprocal
relationship is not guaranteed. That is, just because
X’s SDG includes Y, it does not mean that Y’s SDG
should include X. For example,
Amazon’s SDG includes Walmart but Walmart’s SDG does
not include Amazon!
Likewise, as you can see from the following screenshot
extracts, Wipro’s SDG includes Accenture but
Accenture’s SDG does not include Wipro.
Seasoned marketers would immediately get how this
impacts Wipro’s business development efforts negatively
and Accenture’s positively: A buyer searches for Wipro
and finds that Accenture is in the related business, so
Accenture gets a collateral lead from this buyer.
However, Wipro has no such luck since a buyer searching
for Accenture will not find Wipro in its SDG.
This underscores at least two imperatives for
marketers, especially those using a significant
component of social media, search and other inbound
marketing techniques in their marketing mix:
1. Boost web presence so that your company’s search
results contain an SDG. Otherwise, buyers could keep
your company away from their purchase shortlists since
they might perceive lack of an SDG as implying that
your company is too small for them.
2. Get your company named in the SDG of your major
competitors.
With help of external agencies, it’s possible for any
company to achieve the first imperative.
The second goal might spawn an entire new industry
around what we might term SDGO, which could very well
become the next holy grail of gaming Google Search. The
era of SEO is on the wane since Google is finally
taking strong action to crack down on content farms,
link farms and other traditional SEO aids. So, SDGO is
coming not a moment too soon!

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