Must-read Interview of Marissa Mayer

Over at SearchEngineLand, Gord Hotchkiss launches his new column “Just Behave” with what I would characterize as one of the most informative Google interviews I’ve ever read. It’s a shame it was posted on a Friday. Check out the Marissa Mayer interview.

The interview confirms a number of theories I’ve had, especially about their one-box results and how and when they decide to show sponsored results in the left column. We already knew their ranking algorithms were far superior to MSN and Yahoo, but they’ve even got well-designed algorithms to decide where to place ads on a given search, whether to show news and if they should give a site in the organic results the magic one-box (the one that shows multiple links for the top site).

Google’s attention to user-experience is the main reason Yahoo and MSN haven’t caught up. MSN continues to focus on selling ads rather than improving the search experience. MSN is banking on IE 7 and adding MSN search to more MSN properties as their primary methods for increasing market share, but it won’t work because the search experience is so poor.

Beefing up the MSN AdCenter abilities won’t help either. Advertisers are already impressed with AdCenter, but they want more traffic. MSN’s focus is terribly off and I won’t be surprised if MSN’s market share in the search industry contines to slide. Here’s a key indicator: right now MSN is hiring 49 engineers for AdCenter, but only 9 for Live Search!

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