nicolas leroy

Google Categories – if released – could become a threat for comparison engines / shopping engines

April 23, 2007

Some sites have reported Google is currently testing a new clustered result page in their main Search:

Google categories

The published screen shots on those two sites suggest the clustering is “intelligent”, as the clusters can change depending of the query. From a shopping perspective, the results are quite interesting: for instance, the “dvd players” query give the following results:

On a generic search like “dvd players“, the results are not really relevant: VideoHelp is considered as a comparison engine, and Shopping.com as a store. I would really appreciate to see the results on more fine-grained queries (like “Canon EOS Rebel XTi“), but unfortunately, I didn’t manage to test the new feature myself.

Whatever the quality of the current results (no worries: Google will tune its algorithms), what is important is that, by better understand the queries and categorizing the results, Google may be tempted to put the results from its verticals first – including results from newly introduced Product Search. You can perfectly imagine the following situation:

At this point, it’s not sure this feature will ever be released, or will be released as it currently is, or will be released as the default way to search (not likely). But it’s pretty sure, in the near future, Google will try to fit results from its verticals in a more deep way than the current Onebox placements. Shopping engines have already learned that SEO from Google is not a reliable way to get traffic anymore; they can expect more troubles if Google becomes a competitor with their main Search product.