There’s been lots of heat and noise about new Google Instant – it changes the entire Google search page every time you type a letter.
It makes the near instantaneous process of ‘googling’ even faster (in fact, Google say it can shave two and a half seconds from the search process).
Apparently it will make the search experience better. It’s also shaking up online marketers, those involved in SEO and search marketing.
But I just wanted to trawl through all 26 characters of the alphabet to find out who the Big Boys are according to Google Instant.
What this new search tool means is that big brands now effectively ‘own’ individual letters of the alphabet. I wanted to know who’s who – yes, I’m that shallow.
At this moment, you need to be signed in with your Google account to use the service. So the search results will be influenced by your search history and cached information.
Since Google is also making leaps forward with realtime search and social search it is likely that in future search results will also reflect what your friends, family and others in your social network have been searching for.
Google Instant is also heavily skewed by location – so the following results – A through to Z – are what Google Instant serves up based on being me in, er, Edinburgh.
A is For Argos
Yep, the catalogue shopping high street retailer has got most of the juice under A – quite a feat considering the other runners were Amazon, Asda and Asos.
The top two results sewn up. There are further entries for Argos at eight (recruitment) and nine (discount vouchers).
What foxed me most was entry number three. Who is http://www.antcassidy.co.uk and why have they dedicated a website to the Argos catalogue? Answers on an Argos order slip, please.
Glad to see high culture also gets a look in – with fifth spot taken by a Wikipedia entry on the ancient Greek city of Argos.
Sports fans can also take their pick from British-based Argos racing cycles – or from an article in Canada’s Toronto Sun on local sports team, the Toronto Argonauts.
There are also honourable mentions for Argos global satellite tracking system, Argos construction and design software and a rather scary looking Amsterdam leather, rubber and uniform fetish venue, called Argosbar.
B is For Beeb
Good old Auntie cleans up in the Bs – the other options on offer are BBC News, BBC Weather and BBC Sport.
When it come to the entries, they run from BBC Homepage, BBC News, BBC Sport and BBC Radio all in the top five.
In the lower half is BBC Weather – as well as the Wikipedia entry on the BBC (which describes the British Broadcasting Corporation as “the largest broadcasting organisation in the world’).
The only other non BBC entry is a link to th dedicated BBC page on the Media Guardian.
Propping up the returns is the BBC on Twitter – a quick check shows this Twitter account has 30,651 followers, yet is following nobody (what, not even the DG?)
C is For Currys
Electrical retailers Currys has out muscled arch-rival Comet in the battle for SEO dominance of C-world followed by CBBC and Cineworld.
It has claimed the top two spots, with a further mention of the Curry’s iShop in the ninth spot and its sister company partsmaster.co.uk at number five.
Third place is myvouchercodes with discounts for the retailer. Similarly-named http://www.vouchercodes.co.uk is at five and http://www.vouchercodes.com at number 10. There are other discount voucher offers from promotionalcodes.org.uk at seven. A lot of discount vouchers.
Fourth spot is a real time Google search return on news articles and blogs about NFL linebacker Aaron Curry, while the Wikipedia guide to Currys (“an electrical retailer in the UK…”) is at number seven.
The one other entry is for “online clearance shop” eShop600.co.uk (which also offers discount codes and vouchers).
D is For Debenhams
Another High Street big gun has cleaned up – ahead of Daily Mail, DVLA and Dictionary.
Results for the letter D are dominated by British shopping institution, Debenhams.
The Debenhams home page claims top slot, with women’s fashion section at number two and the store’s weddings gift service at number three.
Fourth spot is another Real Time result, with news and blog results on Debenhams from The Independent, The Guardian and the Marketplace blog.
The store’s jobs section and its ‘investor relations’ page are also top 10 entries, while the ubiquitous voucher codes are at number eight (moneysavingexpert.com) and number 10 (vouchercodes.co.uk).
Surprisingly there is no Wikipedia entry in the top 10, so the last two slots go to a BBC report on Debenhams profit expectations (no nine) and another report on the retail giant’s financial performance, by FT.com (number seven).
E is For eBay
The virtual auction house pips easyjet, expedia and ebuddy.
Everything on this page is eBay. Are you seeing a pattern emerge here? Wonder how much this dominance of a single letter is likely to be worth to the major organisations domination the search returns?
The online marketplace claims the top three spots as its own (main page, sign in page and motors page).
Having missed out on the D-page, Wikipedia makes a return here, with its section on eBay in fourth spot (hmmm – I wonder what’s going to come up under ‘W’?).
The charity section of eBay makes a very creditable entry at number five – where buyers and sellers can support their favourite good causes.
Financial performance of the online auction site is under scrutiny from FT.com (number six) and from Yahoo! Finance (number nine).
The Guardian makes yet another entry, with an article about the growing number of eBay millionaires at number seven, while other real time news results are listed at number 10.
The final two slots are claimed by localbargainfinder.co.uk at number eight and by Wikio (social networking news) with its eBay entry at number eight.
F is For … Facebook
I think we’re getting the picture now … some major brand dominates the first set of results on every letter.
Here Facebook takes the honours ahead of Friv and FirstChoice.
In Online terms they don’t come much bigger than Facebook – the social networking giant is eating up so much web time it is presenting a real threat to Google itself.
Facebook’s own pages claim five of the 10 spots – including the FB home, log in, blog, and developer sections.
The usual suspects are also present in the shape of the Wikipedia entry (at number three) and The Guardian (with a Facebook-related article at number four).
Facebook-related articles from popular social network news sites also feature high – with Crunchbase at seven and Mashable at eight.
Blippr – which provides a ‘hub for your media life’ is at number nine, while the search page is propped up the real time search results at number 10, including articles from The Telegraph and, yep you’ve guessed it, The Guardian.
So, now that we know what to expect, let’s zip through the rest of the alphabet a little quicker
G is For Google (who else)
Predictably the G section is totally dominated by the search giant – specifically its Google Maps product, which appears ahead of Gmail, gumtree and games.
Google Maps is in slots one and three, while entry number two is the .co.uk site.
Google Earth also features highly with a couple of entries, while the ever trust Wikipedia comes in at number seven – with its entry for Google Maps.
Another non-Google owned entry is http://www.mapofstrange.com – which is dedicated to finding weird and wonderful images in Google Maps (check it out).
H Is For Hotmail
Again rather predictably, this letter is dominated by an online giant – Microsoft’s email service, Hotmail. It takes the glory ahead of HSBC, Homebase and Halfords.
There are also entries for Sophos (giving security and hoax information to Hotmail users).
Wikipedia makes its presence felt at number six (“Hotmail is a free, web-based email service operated by Microsoft…”).
A BBC report on phishing attacks targeting Hotmail makes number nine, while real time news results are at number 10.
I is for ITV
The UK’s independent TV network proves best optimised under the letter I – coming up ahead of Ikea, the BBC’s iPlayer and IMDB.
Top spot is the home page, second is the ITV Player for catch up TV and third spot is taken by ITV’s dedicated Formula One page.
Real time news results on ITV come in at number four, while trusty old Wikipedia is in the number five spot and another regular – The Guardian – is hot on its heels at number six, with its section devoted to ITV coverage.
Other entries include ITV’s jobs page, Children’s services (CITV) and the home page of ITV plc, with the Britain’s Got Talent section also making the top 10.
The final slot is market data on ITV from FT.com
J is for John Lewis
The housewives’ favourite cleans up under J – nipping in ahead of Jobcentre Plus and Jane Norman.
Its main retail site in top spot, electricals page second and the John Lewis Partnership website in third spot.
John Lewis financial services also make a top 10 entry, as does the Gift List, the careers page.
The Guardian makes its customary entry (with a business report) at number seven, just ahead of the Wikipedia entry at number eight – though this Wiki entry is devoted to US politician and civil rights leader called John Lewis)
K is For KLM
The Royal Dutch airline has jostled with KFC, Kwik Fit and Karen Millen to be top of the K-market.
Top hit is for the airline’s ‘comprehensive travel planning site’, with the dedicated British site taking second spot and the KLM corporate site at seven.
Trusty Wikipedia comes in at three, with the real time news results at four. Cheapflights.co.uk makes an appearance at five, with airline news site, flightglobal.com at eight.
But the Netherlanders don’t get it all their own way – Brummie based creative marketing agency klm.co.uk snags the fifth spot (great result), while Kent-based skin and beauty specialist klmbeauty.co.uk is at seven.
L is For Lotto.
The National Lottery claims top four spots – edging out other big names including Lloyds TSB and Lidl.
Entry number five proves that even in Google Instant there is still room for sites that look as though they were designed by colour blind schoolkids using 2002 web technology.
I’d try to tell you more about the provenance of http://lottery.merseyworld.com/ but my eyes started to bleed.
The Beeb’s dedicated lottery page slots in at number six, ‘global lottery agent’ The Lotter at seven; the Irish Lottery at eight.
Wikipedia’s entry is number nine, a 2009 TED Talk by Beau Lotto is number 10.
Real time news results for lotto is at number 11. Yes, number 11. I went back and counted from the top. Definitely 11 returns. No, I don’t know why.
M is For MSN
It’s Microsoft making a second appearance. The software giant might be an also run in tech circles these days – lagging behind Google, Facebook and Apple in the relevancy stakes.
However, hot on the heels of its Hotmail success, it’s claimed another spot in Alphabet Street for its local news, sport, and information portal.
Microsoft properties, including MSN, Live, Messenger – and Google’s arch-rival Bing – all claim spots in the top five.
Wikipedia’s definition of MSN (‘originally The Microsoft Network…’) is at six, before normal service resumes with MSN games at seven and MSN Entertainment at eight and Windows Live Hotmail at 10.
The number nine slot is claimed by web and mobile messaging service, eBuddy.
Despite being Microsoft, there is no 11th search result here.
N is For Next
The High Street retailer takes the honours – just ahead of budget rival New Look, banking giant natwest and travel operator, National Rail.
The top two spots are taken by the retail and home shopping giant, while its careers and plc sites are at six and seven. Financial reports also feature from The Guardian (no nine) and FT.com (no 10).
The expected Wikipedia entry is at five (though it s for an American computer company called Next), while a 200 Nic Cage movie called Next is at number four.
In a turn up, the highest rated non-Next entry is number three – te Next Fifteen Communications Group, a holding company for a group of worldwide PR consultancies.
O is For O2
The mobile phone operator edges out arch-rival Orange (who should be really sore about that), as well as cinema giant Odeon and shoe retailer, Office.
Among the multiple O2 entries re listings for the O2 arena, O broadband, iPhone on O2, th O2 online shop and the O2 Twitter account.
Indeed O2 comes incredibly close to claiming all 10 results with its official properties (coverage map, phone index, O2 blueroom) – however, the party is crashed by mobileshop.com, in at number seven.
P is For PayPal
Taking the P … just ahead of PC World, Play and Primark is the online payment pioneer.
Its official properties are at one, two, four and five (with Wikipedia’s PayPal entry at number three).
Next up is eBay’s PayPal page at number six, before a bunch of other PayPal services, including credit cards, and Bingo PayPal.
Q is for QVC
The online shopping specialist comes in ahead of the terms quidco, quiz and quotes. The top two slots are its official properties, with its Wikipedia entre at number three.
There are also entries for QVC voucher codes (ecomparison.co.uk) and the QVC Blog (Flirty 30s feel beautiful and confident).
A QVC blooper on YouTube (where a man falls of a ladder while demonstrating its versatility).
News articles about John Barrowman’s QVC stint (The Guardian) and Ofcoms lifting of a ban on teleshopping for public service channels (The Telegraph) also appear.
R is For Rightmove
The UK’s number own property website beats Ryanair, River Island and Royal Mail.
It owns results one and two, with its official Twitter account at number four. Sandwiched between them at number three is a recent Guardian article focusing on speculation that Rightmove will be subject of a takeover bid.
Chess based charity, therightmove.org must be delighted to be ranking at the fifth spot.
Others honourable mentions go to an Atlanta-based recruitment firm and a Bronx-based house move specialist.
Don’t worry, Wikipedia hasn’t suddenly disappeared – it makes its comforting presence felt at No 10.
S is For Sky
Which appears just ahead of Sky News, Sky Sports and Skype.
This is pretty much a clean sweep with Sky taking virtually every slot – whether for broadband, TV listings, skyplayer.
However, Wikipedia scuppers Mr Murdoch’s plan for total penetration by coming in at number 10 with this little gem: “The sky is part of the atmosphere or of outer space visible from the surface of any astronomical object”.
T is For Tesco
Every little helps. Unless of course you are one of the other Ts pipped to first result by the grocery giant (they are TFL, The Sun and Topshop, by the way).
Every flavour of Tesco is represented – from the online shopping and delivery, store locator, Tesco Direct, Clubcard members site, Tesco fashion, careers, corporate and car insurance. Oh – and did I mention Tesco DVD rental?
Indeed the Tesco machine only slows slightly at result number four (real time news including articles from The Herald and the Daily Mail) and at number 11 (yes, that pesky number 11 again) where Wikipedia advises that Tesco plc is headquartered in Cheshunt.
U is For Utube
Do not adjust your sets. That is spelled utube – piping top spot from UCAS, UK top 40 and UFC.
The first two entries are actually for YouTube (if you are owned by Google, presumably it’s ok to crash someone else’s letter?).
But will the real Utube please stand up? Yes – there they are at number three – http://www.utube.com (also known as Universal Tube and Rollform Equipment Corporation).
This little beauty sells used tube mills, used pipe mills and used rollform inventory. None the wiser? Me neither – especially since the home page is a series of thumbnail photos of everything from Michael Jackson to Farmville, iPhone apps and cage fighting.
Most of the other entries seem to be some sort of effort to cash in on the YouTube name by offering handpicked video clip guides, other video services or unofficial YouTube blogs.
Neither The Guardian nor Wikipedia have made it to the U-Party. It just doesn’t feel the same without them.
V is For Virgin
Top result is for Richard Branson’s iconic brand – which is a nose ahead of Vodafone, Virgin Media and Very.
Top slot is taken by Virgin Atlantic Airlines, followed by Virgin Media (broadband and digital TV), Virgin trains, Virgin.com and Virgin Music.
Later there are Virgin holidays, Virgin Money and Virgin Mobile, Virgin Radio and Virgin Galactic.
Nope, I don’t know which of those are still owned by the bearded balloonist, but he really started something, didn’t he?
Yet again, though, Wikipedia is absent. The free source of all human knowledge definitely seems to prefer the front end of the alphabet.
W is For Weather
I thought Wikipedia was a shoo-in for this slot. But it comes in just behind Weather (and just ahead of DIY store, Wickes)
Top two spots are BBC Weather, followed by the Met Office, uk.weather.com and metcheck.com.
A front of other weather-related sites are broken only by a brief spell of The Guardian – with its weather-related news content at number nine.
X is For Xbox
A third showing for a Microsoft product, coming in just ahead of xe, Xbox live and XFM.
The usual official gubbins ties up the top couple of slots – before Wikipedia makes a majestic comeback with its Xbox entry at number three.
Not far behind is The Guardian, with a report on Xbox Kinect from its well-regarded technology section.
Dedicated gamers might want to check out the other X-box related sites – offering cheats, tips, Halo information, modchips, as well as a Linux page and a shopping section.
Y is for YouTube
After ruthlessly pillaging U, the online video sharing giant returns to its real home – claiming Y ahead of Google rival Yahoo, Yahoo Mail and Yell.
Notable entries? The Guardian (yes, it is starting to feel like a particularly annoying internet weed) makes an appearance at number eight (with a recent story from its tech section), while “fun and easy” knowledge sharing site, Mahalo, makes an appearance at number nine.
Z is For Zara
The Spanish fashion retailer tops outs ahead of Zoopla, Zumba and Zizzi.
Its site is the number one entry. Wikipedia – finishing strongly – with its Zara entry in the second results.
The Guardian makes a (by now) unsurprising appearance a news item from the BBC does sneak in at number nine.
Other entries include the website of wacky artist Zara Wood (aka Woody), and the website of technology and beauty journalist Zara Rabinowicz (she’s easy on the eye) and the website of leading female martial artist and film stay, Zara Phythian.
So what have we learned?
The future is The Guardian, Wikipedia and discount vouchers.