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The Google Gap - The Web According to Google

 7:48 pm on Jun 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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.



 2:47 pm on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

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 Their search results have been out of date for a few weeks.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. :-)

Patrick Taylor

 3:07 pm on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

There are hundreds of newspapers to choose from, not one newspaper which 80% of people rely on for their news.


 3:34 pm on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Does it even need to be said that are many other search engines to choose from as well? They're just a click away.

Patrick Taylor

 4:08 pm on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

To you and me, they are, but not to the billions who only seem to know Google.


 5:35 pm on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

There are hundreds of newspapers to choose from, not one newspaper which 80% of people rely on for their news.

In most American cities, there's one daily newspaper. Two at most. (And if there are two, there's a good chance that both are owned by the same company.)

To be sure, the people who read that newspaper could go online and find other papers, but not everyone has Internet access...and in any case, the kind of people who are capable of finding other newspapers online are certainly capable of finding other search engines.

Also, where do Google's critics get the idea that it owns the search market? It doesn't--not by a long shot. The "80%" figure that we've seen bandied about here is urban myth, to judge from the market-share figures in the latest issue of PC MAGAZINE and in today's edition of SearchDay (which reports "a share of about 55% of usage according to OneStat.com").


 5:56 pm on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

The 80% figure is no myth. It's not referring to the popularity of google.com specifically, it's the proportion of all search engine referrals that come from Google as well as the partners that use its results.


 6:50 pm on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

The 80% figure is no myth. It's not referring to the popularity of google.com specifically, it's the proportion of all search engine referrals that come from Google as well as the partners that use its results.

To put that estimate in perspective, it's worth remembering that close to 100% of the daily newspapers in the United States rely on the Associated Press for much or all of their national and international news coverage.


 7:12 pm on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

You are absolutely right hutcheson, I don't undersdtand legalese very well. Even after having the displeasure over many years of having to employ lawyers, I still don't understand why it has to have an ODP editor explain it to the laymen.

I do however understand when someone is being straight with me and when someone is blowing smoke up my skirt. I would even go so far as saying I am capable of understanding when someone is blowing smoke up my skirt and blowing different smoke up a judge's skirt. I may not catch it the first time or even understand it when I read it, but when a pattern of vague, hype and propaganda disguised as passing on information is displayed time after time, even someone as dumb as I am can see it. If you don't see a problem, then for you there isn't one. If you think Google is giving you straight answers, then you're right.


 10:55 pm on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

europeforvisitors, if I look at referrals for all Google powered engines, most sites will show close on 80%. With work you can get this down to 65% but if you're doing better than that then you really have got things sorted.


 4:07 am on Jun 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Lets get a bit of perspective on this thing.

Google is a tool offered free to enable people to search the web for information. NO MORE NO LESS. A good tool ..yes. A mandatory tool..no. The best tool...maybe.

It is true that most people have found that for some reason (most relevant results, easiest to use....) Google is their search preference, but how does that put a burden on Google to live up to some arbitrary standard?

So far as I know Google freely admit that they have not indexed everything on the web (let alone the sum total of all human knowledge) and so the discovery by this reporter that there is a "gap" is hardly earth shaking news.

Yes, Google is an extremely important economic factor to many web based businesses, and yes I would be sleep much better at night if there were one or two viable competitors to Google on the horizion, but that does not mean I do not have other choices I can make to insure that my business is not overly dependent on Google, and in fact that is only prudent business.

Would the same people demand government controls if all the automobile manufacturers started buying from the same source and putting the same engine in all their vehicles because they found it to be the best solution to their business needs?

Google is not perfect (the dominc update shows that) but it is up to the public and competing search engines to raise the bar instead of bleating that Google is too powerful and thus should be controlled.

Do you really believe that Google have assembled the top talent on earth and that they cannot be equalled or bettered? That there is no better way of searching the web to be found ever?

The surfing public have voted Google as #1, but history show how notoriously fickle the public can be. Wonder how our opinions will differ if we re-read this thread in a years time?...


 4:28 am on Jun 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think the misconception here may be the semantics or the definition of results. If I remember right onestats useage figure reports the number of unique users, so that a searcher who makes only one search per month on Google gets the same weight in the figures as one who makes a hundred.

I prefer to look at the search share, rather than the user share, as I much prefer that metric, and that I believe is right at 80%.


 1:29 am on Jun 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't know how many of you have personally come up against Google but believe me it is a lot easier to admire them in the abstract than in reality.

Google is depended upon. Most users do not have the technical knowledge to know how much information is being denied to them. Google has a moral obligation to say on it's home page that it only offers a partial listing. Google doesn't list flash sites, sites with pop-ups -- who knows how many other kinds. And for all they pat themselves on the back and say how current they are I constantly find things that are two even three years out of date.

To defend Google based on the number of sites it does list and to say that size is why they are too big to inform sites of their de-listing is like that old joke "what can a 400 lb. gorilla do?" "whatever he wants". I emailed Google a question again and again. Over months I got no response. I called Google. I was told no calls were allowed through, when I pressed the operator she told me she would be fired if she connected my call. There are organizations who behave like this, they have names like Gestapo and KGB.


 2:12 am on Jun 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi Guiness and allow me to welcome you to the forums.

It may well be that the average surfers expectations are higher than they should be due to Googles high word of mouth recommendations, but the users vote them the best by the great majority of them using Google and there are lots of other search engines.

I agree that Google could stand a good dose of Public Relations medicine, but their stated objective is simply to provide the best search experience for the user - period.

They make no mention of existing for the benefit of we poor webmasters, (even though they depend on us for all thier data) and thus are not interested in the millions of questions they could potentially receive if they were to open the floodgates.

Personally I am torn between wishing that we could get a few answers every now and then (but note that readers of this forum probably get more and better information than everyone else - thanks to GG) and understanding that by focusing their efforts almost exclusively on the search end of the business they have been able to climb to the top of the heap.

Maybe the answer would be to for Google to charge perhaps $50 per hour to answer our phone calls and emails?


 2:30 am on Jun 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think Google will have to be careful, as every web designers also have the power to influence alot of people, just by advertising a different SE on their site. On G my site has been unstable in the index since its been in it, but on others it was been stable, near the top for my key phrases. So if I want to make sure my visitors can find my site again if they've forgotton my address, which is easy to get wrong, it would be better for me to advertise the SE that indexes my site the best. Which G doesn't do.


 6:39 am on Jun 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google doesn't list flash sites, sites with pop-ups -- who knows how many other kinds.

Google has a problem finding the content within flash. It still lists them. Google lists sites with popups. Search for weather, click on the first result. Then close orbitz.com, about.com, or travelocity.com, whichever comes up.:)


 9:45 am on Jun 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

With all do respect, an authority of what? Who in the world believes everything (or even most things) they read on the Internet?!

Nobody believes everything they find on the internet. But most that find you at the top* for important keyphrases on Google are
1. more likely to believe it
2. more likely to trust the verisign or bbb logo
3. more likely to pay for inclusion (directory)
4. more likely to pay for seo advice
5. more likely to link to you

Just moving from #3 to #1 for my main keyphrase (3,000/month on OV keyword suggestion tool) has made me go from working on new content to trying to squeeze in time to eat, much less consider new content.:)

*As opposed to lower down in SERPs, not as opposed to other forms of traffic.


 5:32 pm on Jun 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

There are organizations who behave like this, they have names like Gestapo and KGB.

Is it any wonder that they don't let Webmasters and SEOs make inquiries by phone? If you were working at Google, would you want to waste your time listening to rants that included comparisons to the Gestapo or the KGB?


 2:20 am on Jun 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Oh EFV, do you really not understand my point? Constructive criticism is not a rant. Are you saying that Google could not/should not improve? It is their totalitarian position of not speaking to anyone but their own that makes Google into the Gestapo or KGB. Google's closed, "secret" society that occasionally issues a bit of pre-written dogma to the public is reminiscent of adolescents, fringe groups and dictatorships.

Mel, how can the best search engine experience be one so full of
holes? And Powdork, Google does not provide direct linkage to sites that use flash, they don't.


 2:49 am on Jun 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Oh EFV, do you really not understand my point? Constructive criticism is not a rant. Are you saying that Google could not/should not improve?

No, I'm just saying that Google shouldn't waste time talking to people who equate references to the Gestapo or the KGB with "constructive criticism."

I also don't think it's very practical for Google to take phone calls from every Webmaster or SEO who isn't happy with the current state of the index, with a PR0 penalty, with a decline in PageRank, or whatever his beef might be. (And why should they? Webmasters and SEOs aren't Google's end users, and they aren't the advertisers who are paying the bills.)


 2:53 am on Jun 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google is committed to becoming better, that's well known. Google already knows that there's a lot of work to be done, and is constantly researching and experimenting to improve.

Google is the ONLY search engine that reaches out to webmasters and involves them (by listening to feedback here) in the constant improvements that they are making.

Everyone knows that search is full of holes.
Gary Flake, Chief of technology for Overture/FAST/ATW recently stated in an interview that 5-10 years from now we'll look back on today's search technology and likened today's search technology to 8 track tapes. Everyone knows this- Including the search engines.


 3:10 am on Jun 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

HI Guiness:

Well I am open to suggestion - show me a better experience and I will use it. As a matter of fact when I don't like what I see in Google (happened quite a bit while Dominic was thrashing about) I do go to Alltheweb for results, but somehow for the next query I am back at Google.

If you re-read my posts, you will see that I agree that Google can get better (no one is perfect), but at the moment the surfing public has voted Google top of the heap.

The point that I think you are missing is that although you derive great benefit from Google (at no profit or benefit to Google), you believe that you are somehow entitled to the same level of service as you get when you pay for services.

Again the point is that Google exists to serve surfers NOT webmasters. To be a bit cynical, they simply don't have to kowtow to webmasters since they do very well just doing their thing for surfers.

What benefit to them to spend a few million per year so that they can answer our questions? There are no free lunches.


 3:40 am on Jun 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Somehow I feel like I am preaching against the choir: Mel, Martini and EFV. And why so touchy EVF? All this fear of ranting and beefing? I'll say it again. If Google took calls in the first place we wouldn't be discussing it here. Most people seem to want specific answers to technical questions not to chat or beef with Google.

It is really splitting hairs to ask: why should Google take calls from webmasters when Google is serving the public. Last I looked webmasters were part of the public. In theory, the "informed" portion of the public whose job it is to get web sites up. I don't know why the general public would be calling Google -- but they've got the right to. Most companies with any sense of public relations and who aren't too greedy employ various tiers of people to take calls from the outside world ( Webmasters press 1...).

And you say I'm not a paying advertiser so why should they take my call? That's a grey area if ever I heard one. Bounce legitimate web sites but let them back on if they pay. That is perhaps the seamiest side of Google. And PS Google doesn't talk to paying advertisers either -- they sign them up and take their money by their usual pre-written directives.


 4:28 am on Jun 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

And Powdork, Google does not provide direct linkage to sites that use flash, they don't.

On Google search for google flash, check out the 2nd result (or the first webmaster world result). I'm not certain what you mean by direct linkage, but sites that incorporate flash into their pages can and do still get indexed. They are indexed and ranked according to everything non-flash about them (content, incoming anchor. etc.). If they are all flash then the url will still be indexed but will show up only when searching by url, or maybe something in meta description.


 4:31 am on Jun 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi Guinness

Well I may be amember of the choir on this one but I have been and contiue to be critical of some of Googles policies in the past. BUT so long as Google is a private company they can run it anyway they choose. Yes, you have the right to call Google, but that cuts two ways - they also have the right not to entertain your call.

You want something for nothing from Google who are running a company for the use of surfers (and thus make a profit). Their job is to provide the most relevant results to surfers and it is in the best interests of any search engine that the public (and especially webmasters and SEOs) do not know how they determine which are the most relevant results. ALL of the search engines go to extreme lengths not to reveal how they rank sites or why you do not rank better etc etc.

I'm a little dense this morning, please explain to me just how taking calls and answering questions from webmasters and/or the general public would put more dollars on Googles bottom line?

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