Google's shopping search service Froogle proved more bemusing than amusing. In an effort to bewitch rather than bewilder, Google on Wednesday rechristened its product search service with the decidedly straightforward name Google Product Search.
"Froogle offers a lot of great functionality and has helped many users find things to buy over the years," explained Marissa Mayer, VP of search and user experience, and Jeff Bartelma, product manager of Google Product Search, in a blog post. "But the name caused confusion for some because it doesn't clearly describe what the product does."
Froogle has been losing traffic steadily for the last four months. According to figures provided by Nielsen/Net Ratings, the number of unique U.S. visitors to Froogle declined from 8.6 million in December 2006 to 5.9 million in March 2007. While this drop may be at least partially attributable to seasonable buying habits rather than user disaffection, Froogle also shows a year over year decline. Froogle received 8.2 million unique U.S. visitors in March 2006.
Last November, Froogle accounted for 0.48% of the visits to Google properties, according to Internet metrics firm Hitwise (which just today was acquired by Experian). The bulk of Google's visitors, 78.42% that month, go to Google.com for search.
Google yesterday also rolled out two new features to further personalize search for those with Google accounts who have enabled their Search History.
The first is a recommendation button on the Google Toolbar, which many users have installed in their Web browser. When clicked on, the button, which shows a pair of dice, takes the user to a site calculated to be of interest based on past searches. Google says it will generate up to 50 such sites per day.
This feature is similar to a service called StumbleUpon, that eBay is rumored to be acquiring. StumbleUpon's recommendations are based on user profiles and voting, in contrast to Google's automated, algorithmic approach.
The second new Google personalization feature is the ability to add a recommendations tab to a Google Personalized Homepage. These recommendations are similar to the Google Toolbar recommendations.
Google is downplaying the usefulness of its recommendations at the moment. "Don't expect very much at the beginning, but the more you build up your search history, and the more you use these features, the better they'll become," said Sep Kamvar, engineering lead for personalization at Google, in a blog post. "Over time, we will give you more and better recommendations."