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Why Google’s new head of search might not tell us anything

Maybe you saw the stories. Google has a new head of its search division–who used to run its artificial intelligence group! So, obviously that means that Google is going to radically change direction to inject way more AI into search right? Um, maybe not.

Here are just a few reasons that this might not mean anything:

  • Google is already doing it. Google has already invested massively in upgrading its search in many areas that people consider AI, ranging from advanced text analytics to machine learning. Maybe this is a trailing indicator rather than a leading one.
  • It’s one person. The head of Google search is moving over from its AI unit, but the AI unit is not moving. People dramatically overestimate the effect of the leader on the organization. John Giannandrea is undoubtedly a smart guy, but he doesn’t do the research.
  • It might be a career move. In a large company like Google, they move executives around who have succeeded so that they can have even greater impact. When I worked for IBM, Irving Wladowsky-Berger moved from IBM Research to its eBusiness unit. It didn’t mean that eBusiness was soon to be loaded with research technology. It meant that Irving was a brilliant guy who could make IBM more money outside of IBM Research.

It’s fun reading tea leaves and staring at entrails, especially when they are Google’s. But keep your eye on the ball. Search will get smarter no matter who the executive is, so smart marketers will continue to focus on making searchers happy with their content. As the search engine improves, the right content will be shown more and more.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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Discussion

  1. Avatar David Williams

    How does google use AI? Does that make SEO redundant? Supposedly it can detect any attempts to increase page rank…

  2. Avatar Mike Moran

    David, everyone always wants to make SEO obsolete, but in truth, SEO keeps changing. Google uses text analytics, machine learning, and other techniques people once called AI, but the only thing redundant about SEO is when people use tricks instead of providing content that meets searcher’s needs. If an increase in PageRank is due to better content, Google is happy. If it is a trick, than, yeah, Google tries to stop that, but SEO isn’t just tricks.

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