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|The Google Gap - The Web According to Google|
An article [yahoo.businessweek.com] by Business Week Online details some of the issues webmasters are facing getting their site listed with Google.
It is an interesting article because it isn't your normal mainstream drivel.
|"we need a concept of the public interest for the Internet that we haven't completely worked through yet. Somewhere between 'the market will magically take care of this' and 'let's regulate the heck out of it,' there has to be a solution." |
There is a very fascinating and important point buried on page two:
|Call it the Google Gap -- the difference between the growing perception that the site is omniscient and the fact that it isn't. |
Having total knowledge; knowing everything: an omniscient deity; the omniscient narrator.
1. One having total knowledge.
2. Omniscient God. Used with the.
|Call it the Google Gap -- the difference between the growing perception that the site is omniscient and the fact that it isn't. |
Is there actually a growing perception that Google's omniscient? That sounds like an education problem, not a Google problem. No information source - whether it be Google, NYTimes or the 6:00 news - should be considered omniscient to an educated reader.
Would be great though: an omniscient deity at my beck-and-call 24-hours a day. :-)
> Webmasters don't always use the words that searchers do, so sometimes you get better results as a searcher by thinking how a page creator would write things.
Exactly, and that works the other way too. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of how Google works should focus most of their efforts on marking up content to match the way that interested searchers might search.
ciml, Everytime Im make some huge difference on my site or other site I call my father or other that are not that into the internet and let them search around on my site or ask them how they will find that and that site or topic.
About the artikel I dont like the part about the privacy and I dont hope that Google will let the big business push them around I like that I can get different results if Im looking for example a DVD movie and not just get Amazon and other big shots and even pure affiliate sites are great, sometime you get a better wiev of some products.
|I agree that refining searches is a pretty good skill to have |
Yes, but you have to read the manual, and who reads manuals anymore? For the average surfer, using a search engine has got to be on a level with programming a vcr.
That's one of the ingenious things about what AskJeeves is doing with their drilldown links and search refinements: they are idiot-proofing the search experience.
|...they are idiot-proofing the search experience. |
martinibuster, I'm sure what you meant was "consumer-proofing" the search experience...
If you are familiar with the whole Search King Lawsuit, you'll know what I mean- that is how they defended PageRank.
Freedom of speech isn't the issue in regards to the Google Gap. Neither is page rank. What the article is referring to in my mind is the fact that a lot of power rests in the hands of an organization that will lie when it suits them and there is no way at this time for them to be held accountable.
In Novemeber search engine watch did an article on the SK case. In it he interviewed, (or asked for an interview), with Google spokesperson Nate Tyler who told Danny Sullivan, "we can't really discuss any of this stuff because of the lawsuit". Yet, when it served them, they provided a court document to lawmeme that contained their motion to dismiss. Not caught lying, but definetly caught behaving quite differently than their public relations would imply.
In that same article, just a paragraph or two below Mr. Tyler saying they couldn't discuss any of this, Danny goes on to say:"
"In fact, in late September, Google rolled out what it described to me as "more than average" changes to how it ranks and rates web sites. The changes got the search engine optimization forums buzzing, with all types of theories of how Google might now be analyzing links. Some even believed the changes were specifically made to combat the nascent PR Ad Network, though that's something I personally doubt. Google, for its part, denies that changes were made to correct any individual problems."
Note the "described to me" line. Then Matt Cutts, a well known G employee said specifically"
"There's a lot of people suggesting a lot of stuff, but to say that Google is doing a one off and trying to fix this small problem or that small problem is barking up the wrong tree," said Matt Cutts, a software engineer at Google who deals with webmaster issues."
Less than 30 days later, they admitted in court documents that they did in fact manually alter their results for the purpose of devaluing a specific set of websites. They lied and now the world knows they lied.
The Google Gap is referring to this type of problem. What if Google decides it doesn't like Gay people and puts their websites at the bottom of results? Is that a gap between relevant, unbiased, fair results, or an attempt to abuse power and control or manipulate public opinion? What if Nate and Matt decide they don't care for Jews. Absurd concept huh? Maybe Cathoilics. Or maybe they would prefer to see a Democrat elected instead of a Republican so obviously democratic candidates websites must be more relevant to a search for american politics or a search query like, "who would make the best president".
Since the lawsuit, the entire world needs to be asking itself, is this really the answer to my question or is this just what Google wants me to see? THAT is the Gap.
The only regulation that there needs to be for any search engine is that they must value all web sites the same way. If their results are determined by a mathmatical process, then they should be required to administer that process to all equally. If all of them are allowed to charge some for better represetation while claiming that they don't, or penalize those they don't like for any reason they choose, that is a problem that is going to make a lot of lawyers very rich.
No one should be allowed to be subjective or objective whenever it suits them without having to answer to some higher authority. Hiding behind the first amendment should not relieve anyone of liability when they have proven themselves by thier own actions to be self-serving.
The questions being asked of Google now by webmasters and the mainstream media alike are simply due to the fact they have said one thing and then done another. Now they can try to trivialize the fact any way they choose, but the facts remain and now we all see the clay feet of the search God.
>Call it the Google Gap -- the difference between the growing perception that the site is omniscient and the fact that it isn't.
The gap has largely been propogated by those who should know better; an example of this would be commonly reffering to search results as "editorial listings [126.96.36.199]", the last time I checked "editorial" meant an editor was involved.
News flash to search engine pundits:
The following does not constitute an editorial decision:
text<200> bold<500> small<100> title<1000> h1<500> kwd<0> meta <0> alt <100 > link<200> .......
Are descriptive words important? You bet they they are, companies are routinely held accountable for how they describe their services/products..hence "bullet resistant" vs. "bullet-proof".
shurlee, few people have the guts to post the truth like you.
you'll see some people posting using their domains as nicknames, you'll notice their lobbying for google but of course the truth is what you just posted and those of us in real-world-land know it.
shurlee, the problem with the objectivity and treating all sites the same is that this has caused lawsuit problems as well.
There were a number of cases where this has been highlighted:
The Anti Scientology site, Some Neo-Nazi sites in Germany and sites expousing terrorism and how to perform it.
Unfortunately there is a damned if we do, damned if we don't scenario.
The problem is that the search engine concept has so radically changed the way ordinary people can obtain information, so quickly that the laws that were adequate for ordinary media cannot cope with the new situations.
It seems to me one of the underlying assumptions of this discussion is that Google is a commerce tool. Most of the upset webmasters are people trying to sell items via the internet and depend on Google to drive them traffic to achieve their financial goals. I'm curious, though, what percentage of Google users are actually searching for something to buy on the web and which are just looking for information or cool websites to visit.
Is the Internet primarily a vehicle for commerce or a vehicle for information or entertainment?
Like many have said before, if Google pulled the plug tomorrow, would there still be search engines where we could find most of the same information? Of course there are. If you hamstring Google with regulation, then people will use the other search engines if Google doesn't return meaningful results to them. If you regulate all search engines based in the U.S., then some new search engine based in the Cayman Islands that returns more meaningful results might become the most dominant player in the search engine market.
I was chatting with a friend about all this the other day and she mentioned that when she's searching for something via Google, she rarely chooses the web sites at the top of the SERP. She finds they rarely have what she's looking for, so she starts with the fourth or fifth web site on the list.
|No one should be allowed to be subjective or objective whenever it suits them without having to answer to some higher authority. Hiding behind the first amendment should not relieve anyone of liability when they have proven themselves by thier own actions to be self-serving. |
That's the biggest load of baloney I've heard in a long, long time.
|They lied and now the world knows they lied. |
So what? Is it News to anybody that Google is less than transparent about it's ranking methodology? It's nobodys business.
|No one should be allowed to be subjective or objective whenever it suits them without having to answer to some higher authority. |
A higher authority already exists: It's called the Court of Public Opinion. Martha Stewart is as much a slave to Public Opinion as Google, and we can currently see that "higher authority" in action.
|Hiding behind the first amendment should not relieve anyone of liability when they have proven themselves by thier own actions to be self-serving. |
Liability? According to the Google Terms of Service [google.com]
|Google disclaims any and all responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, completeness, legality, reliability, or operability or availability of information or material displayed in the GOOGLE SERVICES results. |
The very first item in their Terms of Service is this:
|By using Google's search engine or other Google services ("Google Services"), you agree to be bound by the following terms and conditions (the "Terms of Service"). |
Good point, Please Be Gentle. I don't know if we've ever discussed the frequency of things like minus and double-quotes. I do know that it's a moving target as users get more familiar with searching..
|Call it the Google Gap -- the difference between the growing perception that the site is omniscient and the fact that it isn't. |
I actually agree with this 100%. The thing is that by and large Google gives darned good results, so people assume that it will remain giving darned good results even on those occassions when it doesn't.
Back in ancient pre-Google times you were painfully aware of the AltaVista gap, and you'd use those other SEs that were to hand such as Yahoo and.. err.. whatever to pan through and find the information you wanted. Google changed all of that, and for maybe 95%++ of all searches delivers excellent results, the rest is the "gap".
In IT parlance, we're talking about "users" who have very little clue as to whats going on. They like the front page of Google and don't go anywhere else because Google usually gives them something worthwhile. Heck, they don't even use Google Groups (which I scour regularly). Many people have no concept of anything other than the straight Google SE results. Not Images. Not Groups. Not even Froogle. Ask Google users to name another search engine and I bet more than half of them couldn't. To them, Google *is* omnipotent.
People such as ourselves form part of the technological elite. We're so advanced, some of us even have favorite search engines for different style of searches. Heck, we can even usually tell you when Google last updated and the Freshbot visited. We are not normal. Google to us is just another SE, although a pretty good one. Try to stop thinking like webmasters and try to think like a user and you'll soon be sacrificing your first born to the Great Google God :)
I confirm Dynamoo's assessment whenever I start talking to friends, family, and people off the street who are not technically savvy or inclined but who do occasionally use the internet.
They're not dumb and don't deserve any condescension. But often, they do lack information that is common knowledge to many of us here. And a lot of this stuff, frankly, just isn't that important to them.
Take the Jayson Blair story... how many people who read the NYTimes would have questioned his account of visiting Pvt. Lynch's home? I personally tend to take the objectivity of certain news sources for granted. Ditto Google. I think of Google as an authority.
There are blips along the way (e.g. Blair) but overall, I don't tend to question much of what I read or what's been told to me unless I'm given reason to (e.g. Chomsky's questioning of the lack of E. Timor coverage at the time).
|"the Net feels awfully public, but in fact almost every element of it isn't public or government-run or even subsidized. When these private parties start making individualistic decisions about who's favored and who's not, it does create serious legal questions…" |
…only at Harvard. The arrogance of even the suggestion that a governmental agency would have the authority to dictate the SERPS of a website is amazing. And what the heck does “feel public” mean anyway? Does Barnes & Noble feel public?
|type in the search term "Ruby Ridge" -- referring to a 1992 shootout in Idaho in which the FBI killed an alleged white supremacist -- and Google returns thousands of pages with tons of information. But hardly any of the links at the top of the list provide balanced information on the issue. Rather, most of the top results present extreme views of the incident. |
That’s because there aren’t that many “balanced” websites about Ruby Ridge. There has to be actual “information” to give before it gets ranked.
I think this website has grown too powerful over the years. Maybe the Google Gestapo would step in and take control of things here too. There's just to much private thinking going on here, even though this site has a public-feely to it; and that's just wrong.
[edited by: nowhere at 4:59 pm (utc) on June 11, 2003]
|I think of Google as an authority. |
With all do respect, an authority of what? Who in the world believes everything (or even most things) they read on the Internet?!
You’re telling me that as an SEO, you believe Google’s algorithm is an authority of what’s true and what isn’t?
I think a part of the issue that the article hinted at (but didn't state outright) that Joe & Jane Public have certain expectations about searching that doesn't quite match the reality...they see Google as a public service, not as a profit-making company, and so have slightly different expectations of what guides the search results.
Think about it...at least in America, we have certain expectations about social workers and the library system that leads us to believe that if we ask for help in these venues we'll get a certain type and quality of help. But Google isn't a social worker or a university library -- although the founders & employees have philosophies and viewpoints that are often quoted and thought of as 'the final word' the reality is that Google is a corporate entity with profit as a goal. Google is in the same universe as Microsoft, Dell, even (ack!) Enron -- they aren't a public service, and even if they perform a service the end goal of EVERY corporation is to make the company grow and gain wealth. But since Google's PR often plays up the public service aspect of what they do (because it gets those pesky news writers to write about them), Joe & Jane are left thinking they're consulting the world's biggest library.
That's the real gap -- that the perception and expectation of the non-webmaster users is that Google is a public service. And that's why you hear cries for laws that regulate -- because in America we have regulations for public services. These requests for legal changes will continue until Google changes its PR/advertising a bit to make it at least a little more obvious to Joe & Jane that they're a company rather than an arm of the various state/country social services.
(Standard disclaimer -- thought seriously about being a librarian, ended up studying PR in college, so I'm pretty opinionated on both these areas)
|What if Google decides it doesn't like Gay people and puts their websites at the bottom of results? |
That's up to Google. Reality is that if there is 100,000 gay sites only the first 10 or 20 results are going to be visited by google searchers. So it makes no big difference.
Google has no real power. People use google because it helps them find sites. Just like CNN doesn't show the Arab side of the story, the ability for Google to modify results is the same. However I'm not sure how google would put gay sites to the bottom of the results if you searched for "gay". I'm assuming you mean they know the webmaster is gay and put his site to the bottom. Well that's called prejudice and their are laws about it. Google uses a mathematical model to determine the rankings, some people have figured out the system and have devised a way to "cheat" well google removes those sites so that users see the intended results.
|The Subtle Knife|
Well, your either in the google camp or not on this one,
be good if people made their loyalities clear.
I'm not. It really isn't that good, and the competition
are wising up fast. I think all the web is a superior
Personally, I think people who rely on one engine
for info-source, is just madness. That's the worry for me.
There is a google gap, and people don't know, I find
it really disturbing.
Who actually said google was the fountain for all knowledge?
It's just the first engine to use some linking algorithm which now makes no sense at all.
Altavista October 1999
Google May 2003
? ? ?
Subtle knife, you really made clear on which camp you are. I'm on the other one. Not because of any association, but just because I have always found it very useful for searching the web. That is what I want of it and that is its function, which IMHO it does very well. If I'm looking for a book, I'll go to a bookstore, if I'm looking for something on the web, I'll go to Google.
I don't think anyone ever said Google was the fountain for all knowledge, any intelligent person knows it's not.
|It's just the first engine to use some linking algorithm which now makes no sense at all. |
Now you may think that some other algorithm makes more sense, but to me it does. You just have to understand that searching on Google is NOT searching for the truth, it is (only) searching for the biggest amount of information available. And information has to be organised somehow. In this case it is by the amount of people who have found a source useful, they are not trying to direct us to their point of view. That's about as neutral an organisation scheme I can imagine.
|What if Nate and Matt decide they don't care for Jews. Absurd concept huh? Maybe Cathoilics. Or maybe they would prefer to see a Democrat elected instead of a Republican so obviously democratic candidates websites must be more relevant to a search for american politics or a search query like, "who would make the best president". |
So what? When Fox News took an unashamedly pro-Administration stance during its coverage of the war against Iraq, people who didn't share that bias switched to other TV networks. And I'm sure that Britons who supported Tony Blair were quick to read The Telegraph or The Times instead of The Mirror, The Guardian, or The Independent. Fact is, people do have choices--and with Web search, another choice is just a mouse click away.
If you're worried about readers being exposed to one-sided points of view in the media, ask your elected officials why most U.S. cities have only one daily newspaper--and why the government allows such monopolies.
Didn't see that quote when it first scrolled past.
I see Shurlee's point, but I don't think we're at the point YET where people will decide who to vote for by searching on "who would make the best president?" People are still busy obeying instructions from their TV set. :-)
I think Google is an outstanding reference tool. That's all that's meant by authority. One of several preferred indexers of the web. Much like I tend to reach for the OED when I want a particular definition.
I don't think Google lied. I think shurlee just doesn't understand the legal process and can't read legalese.
IANAL either, but I read the Google filing backwards and forwards, looking for specifically what Google said about what they had done to the spamking site. And they didn't say. They said they had the legal right (freedom of speech and all) to do whatever they wanted to it.
Remember, the spammer wanted access to Google's internal files, so Google was responding by suggesting (1) it doesn't matter what you found in our files about what we might have done -- because whatever it was, it was our basic right; so it's none of your business what we did. (2) telling you what we did would be irretrievably prejudicial to our business.
In other words: "OK, Busybody: so what if we are? Just for the sake of argument, we'll let you assume the worst possible actions on our part, and we'd rather defend our right to do that than let you know what we actually did." If you sued them saying, "Google is discriminating against sites by Republicans/Romanians/Realtors/or whatever", they'd bring out the same boilerplate legal papers. And the judge would kick you out of the courtroom just as fast as he did that Okie spammin' fool.
Another thing that confused shurlee was that Google published a trial document -- but such documents are part of the public record! Google couldn't have hidden that document even if they'd wanted to, without special express permission from the judge (which wasn't likely to be forthcoming.) That's not "discussing" the case at all! That's just not futilely trying to hide legally public information.
Another thing shurlee didn't understand is that Google can always talk about their spam-control process without having any impact on the case, because (according to Google) the case had nothing to do with their spam-control process, and so they WEREN'T talking about the case, they were just giving the usual company line -- and if shurlee had been listening to Google for the past three years, none of those Google quotes would have been new information. (This is true, by the way, whether you actually BELIEVE the company line or not. At least it's consistent.
So, whether or not the company was lying about its internal procedures, it was NOT lying about its trial-related PR.
And finally (although this doesn't exhaust the list of misunderstandings, misconceptions, and confusion expressed in that diatribe), shurlee apparently misunderstands the whole concept of "quality control" as practiced by a search engine. How does anyone tell whether a search engine is good? The only possible way is to spot-check a few particular queries, and you tweak your parameters to get the search engine results to match the human-judged values. We don't know, because Google hasn't said, whether any of the queries that month impinged on the spamking's domain. Almost certainly Google periodically chooses new test queries based partly on spam reports, and almost certainly the spammer was reported. Beyond that, all is speculation, because Google hasn't told, and won't tell. So it's fatuous to accuse them of lying about it, just because you misunderstood what they were saying on two separate occasions, when the fact was (as they admit) they wouldn't have made either statements if they had had anything at all to do with the specifics of the spamking case.
Good one, hutcheson.
I think I must be reading a different article than everyone else. Their definition of the Google Gap is
|Rettig notes that most of those don't show on Google and that many that do are buried in its rankings. What's more, he predicts, most books that have ever been published will never end up online. "There's going to be this vast retrospective body of information and knowledge that never becomes electronic," he says. "The costs of conversion are astronomical, especially compared with the potential payback." |
Call it the Google Gap -- the difference between the growing perception that the site is omniscient and the fact that it isn't.
This isn't the "Google Gap" it's the "Internet Gap".
How can you blame Google for not indexing information that is not even online?
Is Google going to be held accountable for people's "perception" that Google can give them all the answers? You can't accuse Google of false advertising, because Google doesn't advertise. If you want to go after someone for that, go after ATW who's name implies that they actually have the entire web in their index.
|GG: "suppose you want to see a map of belgium." |
(from about 20 posts ago)
I live in Beligum, and trust me, it isn't big enough to require a map. :-)
I'm a comparative newcomer to the workings of search engines, but I'm not a newcomer to a world where it's normal to say "sorry" when you get something wrong. By all accounts, Google's current service is not up to scratch. Their search results have been out of date for a few weeks. Why don't they just say "sorry"? I don't mean to me and all the other webmasters and website owners who can't get fresh content into their index, but to their customers - people who use their site to find the latest information on the World Wide Web. Other reputable companies in the big wide world apologize to their customers so why doesn't Google do it? It would be the ethical thing do do, in the same way that not spamming is the ethical thing Google wants webmasters to do. It's even more important that they do this because it appears Joe Public isn't noticing and is thereby being misled. When a train is late, even though everybody knows it's late, an apology is usually given and includes a best guess about when the train will come, then passengers feel better treated and can make their own decisions about whether to wait or to make alternative arrangements. In Google's case most customers appear not to even know the train is late, so they could be making bad decisions, therefore Google has an ethical responsibility and well as a customer care issue.
Of course they would lose business in the short term but their very own argument to webmasters who are losing business from Google at present is to look to the long term. Maybe they should take their own advice. I don't say they have any obligation to me to explain why I can't get my site into their index, but as a user of their search engine they would earn my respect by stating the facts... that their index is temporarily out of date or that they're having technical issues to resolve - whatever - but that their service will ultimately be better. I'm not cynical about Google's aims to make the web a better place. I happen to trust this is genuinely what they want. I just feel they should be more honest and open about it.
|Google's current service is not up to scratch. Their search results have been out of date for a few weeks. Why don't they just say "sorry"? |
Yes, and THE NEW YORK TIMES, Fox News, the BBC, TOKYO SHIMBUN, the WALL STREET JOURNAL, and all of the world's other media outlets can issue public apologies every day for not covering everything (and for not covering it in a way that a given reader considers to be satisfactory).
With all those public apologies floating around, the noise level for the word "aplology" in Google would be nearly as high as the noise level here at Webmaster World. :-)
| This 114 message thread spans 4 pages: < < 114 ( 1 2  4 ) > > |