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Google's Trivial Pursuit

Among the many things I love about Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) as an investor is its fun-loving spirit of experimentation. Almost anything goes at the search king, including a trial run at embedding a trivia game with its search engine.

Called "a Google a Day," the clever tuning of The Big G's search system includes a simple trivia question that's best solved using various Google tools. Here's a look at the latest question:

Pretty cool, eh? It's like Jeopardy! for the digital class, and once more sets Google apart from Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) fast-growing Bing search engine.

But "a Google a Day" also has serious business benefits. The more users tap into Google products to solve riddles, the more likely it is they'll return to these same products for mundane tasks -- such as finding a restaurant in Google Maps or converting cubits into inches using Google Calculator. Each query also creates an opportunity to make the underlying algorithm smarter. Data from Experian shows Google's success rate (a rough proxy for search relevancy) stands at 65.9%, well below Yahoo!'s (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) leading 81.1% rate. Google can use the help.

In many ways, "a Google a Day" reminds me of a five-year-old contest that hooked me just as easily: The DaVinci Code Quest, in which a series of Google-hosted puzzles promised to bamboozle all but the best of us. My commemorative cryptex still sits on the bookshelf to the left of my desk.

The difference is that "a Google a Day" benefits from social services that were either brand-new or didn't exist in 2006. Facebook was barely two years old and Twitter hadn't been officially unveiled. Today, puzzle freaks can share "a Google a Day" on either network or Google's own Buzz. And that's exactly what The Big G wants.

CEO Larry Page is so focused on social success he's tied employee bonuses to social media gains. Anything that helps inform his company's efforts to displace or blunt the effects of Facebook, Twitter, Quora and their ilk is goodness.

So don't let this game small-f fool you. Serious fun can also be serious business. We know; our annual April Fool's joke always teaches an important investing lesson. With "a Google a Day" The Big G is doing less teaching and more learning. Investors should be cheering.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think about "a Google a Day," the business of search, and how social media factors into your search habits using the comments box below.

The Motley Fool recently introduced a free My Watchlist feature that allows users to stay ahead of the curve and receive up to date news on companies like Google, or any of its competitors. To get up-to-date news and analysis on the company, add Google to My Watchlist.

Google and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Yahoo! is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!. Motley Fool Alpha LLC owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days..

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Microsoft and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy kills at bar trivia. Consider yourself warned.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2011, at 1:43 AM, don1941t wrote:

    "...once more sets Google apart from ..." ummm .... maybe you haven't noticed that Bing has had this on its home page since launch a couple of years or so ago? I understand the Fool is anti-Microsoft but you could at least admit who is copying who when it's G copying M. I mean it iwas front page news when you rehashed the story a few weeks ago about planted G results showing up in M's search engine.

    Please media company, give your fact checkers a few extra minutes before publishing supposedly media-ready stories from companies that have ulterior motives.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2011, at 7:25 AM, TMFMileHigh wrote:


    >>maybe you haven't noticed that Bing has had this on its home page since launch a couple of years or so ago?

    My apologies, but I don't see it. Can you show me what I'm missing via a posted URL?

    >>I understand the Fool is anti-Microsoft but you could at least admit who is copying who when it's G copying M.

    Not anti-Microsoft at all. In fact, I'd say most of the Foolish writers and analysts are in love with Microsoft's valuation. Cast me among those who see a lack of strategic focus and wonder whether cheap is really cheap enough.

    And yet when Microsoft has done well, I've said so:

    This is how it is and will always be. I see Google acting dumb, I'll say so. And I'll say the same about Microsoft, Apple, and all the rest.

    FWIW and Foolish best,

    Tim (TMFMileHigh and @milehighfool on Twitter)

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