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|Google Under Siege - Fair or Unfair?|
The Gmail outcry is huge. The Local search outcry is growing. The number of negative Google stories out there is a surprise.
It seems Google can't please anyone these days.
What is the root of it all?
a) The Florida update?
b) Big - just plain bigness (everyone loves to pick on the big guy)?
c) Poor management?
d) Public relations dept screw up?
e) Competitors planting seeds of division?
f) All of the above?
>As far as the Mail thing goes, who the hell cares! Don't use it or send sensitive stuff to people who do and then you don't have to worry about it<
Easy for the tech literate to say.
I was struck by the fact that Motley Fool gave a thumbs down to gmail over privacy concerns. That is a message going to a pretty mainstream audience.
Does anyone remeber the best and most popular engine of i'ts time called Alta Vista?. Seems Google is going in the same direction. I have over 50 1st place pages in Alta Vista with almost no referals. In my opinion it is just a matter of time consumers will dump Google and switch to another search engine with accurate ( unmodified ) listings.
I really don't care about Gmail thing because I won't use it, but the users that do get these emails with Google ads in them and don't know what it is, is what makes me a little jumping on it.
I know this is a little off topic here, but is their any big search engine out their that don't think about money all the time?
Listening to some of these posts, I'm just wond'ring when some folks will request that Google tatoos Adwords on their backsides in real-time, based on a brain scan of their recent thoughts :q
Personally, I think GMail will be a hoot - if my wife e-mails me and asks me what I want for lunch, will
I get Adwords for local restaurants? Or if she asks for 'a bit of the other' - will Google dish up local brothels?
The poor girl's never going to see me :)
<<The searchers think Google is doing a good job, and that is all that really counts. >>
Really, I think the advertisers are pretty important to Google as well - guess who that is? rfgdxm1, next you generally say, "The vast majority of searches are non-commercial so these are most important again forgetting that google makes ZERO money off terms/themes where there are no bidders/
|It seems Google can't please anyone these days. |
a) Google is serving results that are "good enough" on my informational searches. And on those rare occasions that I shop online, they do well by me in the areas that I tend to shop.
Google is sending me more traffic than ever before, so as a webmaster
I am happy. Florida was no problem as a searcher or as a webmaster.
b) I judge a company by their actions, not by their size or by what they might do in the future.
There are only a couple of billion dollar companies that seem to value their word, and Google is one of them.
c) Management that is able to behave in a moral fashion while growing their company? I would not define that as poor management.
d) I think the Public Relations department might be part of the problem. It is a geek company and most of them have no clue that the public would not view them the same way as other geeks.
I think that they could also do a much better of setting expectations appropriately.
e) While MS might be playing their old "grass-roots support" game, I really think that most of the whiners are sincere.
g) I think that the real problem is that your average business person cannot understand geek thinking or priorities.
It isn't about the money, though money is nice, it is about the search and being the best at it.
The same thing goes for serving up ads. They want to use their search technology to be able to serve up the most appropriate ads.
With Gmail they realized how well their search capabilities can help manage mail, so they decided to try and do it right.
If you really care about your privacy, run PGP or GPG. Push Google to support it allow the applications to work with it seamlessly. Push your firends and aquantences to install it and encrypt all your email.
I will be getting a gmail account, and I will use it for all the things like publicly available contact info on blogs and forums.
The reaction towards Google is simply a natural reaction people would have towards any company that has the power to so radically change the landscape.
On a very large mailing list of Internet professionals (only a few of which are SEO experts) there is currently a discussion going on about just how bad google's search results have become. Words like "getting almost useless in many cases" were used to describe the search results and Florida has been blamed by some while "SEO's" have been blamed by others.
For me there are several reasons Google is taking a beating at the moment:
I asked one of the Google reps at the last Pubcon "Is the reason that you won't reveal the payout rates on Adsense so that you can hook in masses of webmasters and then drop the payouts over time? That way, nobody can argue, because no one has any numbers to compare it with".
He took offence at that question, but what a surprise that most publishers recently suffered a drop in Adsense income due to "upgrades". Google must think that we are all stupid. Remember those Looksmart "upgrades"?. Lying to people doesn't engender trust. That is reason 1.
Reason 2 is that the results really aren't very good anymore. I am getting fed up with so many junk, purpose built, sites appearing in the results. I should know, because I own some of them. Yahoo is MUCH better at filtering these out at the moment. The only strength of Google at the moment is the depth of spidering, and Yahoo can't be too far behind.
Reason 3 is that Google treats webmasters like dirt. It is great to have Googleguy(s) here, but that doesn't detract from the fact that Google holds together a massive web economy, yet does little to protect that economy. I have seen numerous sites get penalised in Google for absolutely nothing (and far more who did deserve it). I understand that Google can't be responsible for everyone on the web, but being this callous with the livelihoods of webmasters leaves a bitter taste.
That's a good question, Brett. I know that the atmosphere inside Google hasn't changed in any substantial way, e.g. become money-grubbin' or caring less about our users or their privacy--we're still working hard to give high-quality search results back to users. And if you go into Google on a Saturday like today, you'll see quite a few engineers there.
I also think launches like Gmail do show that we want to organize many different kinds of information, not just the web, and I can see where some folks or companies would want to see Google only do search over the web. One good thing is that I think there's lots of good competition going on in search right now, and that makes everybody work harder to give better results.
"I am getting fed up with so many junk, purpose built, sites appearing in the results. I should know, because I own some of them."
I have to say I got a smile out of that one, Bobby_Davro.
I see Google as a corporation working hard to grow. With the split from Yahoo, other competitors voicing their intent on competing with Google, what do ya expect?
I'm not totaly happy with some recent changes coming out of Google however, if I where working there, in a capacity where I could try some of these revenue schemes, I would...
Business is business.
(Can I please have my old CPC back now?)
"I know that the atmosphere inside Google hasn't changed in any substantial way, e.g. become money-grubbin'..."
That this hasn't changed could be explained by Google having always been money-grubbin'. C'mon, lets be honest. It ain't like Google is a charity. And, the obsession at the plex with greed is not necessarily a bad thing. Without quality search results searchers will use SEs other than Google. Which would be bad for the bottom line, and thus Google has to keep quality high.
Poor Management, pure and simple.
When you are small, you can afford to make more mistakes.
When you don't have really any tough competition, you can afford to make mistakes.
But, when you get large and everyone is gunning at you, you need to slow down and follow good management skills. Mistakes become very costly, to many or too big of one and you may very well lose your position.
I'm a capitalist and I admire Google's success.
On the other hand they are beginning to exhibit a lot of the same characteristics of monopolistic companies who utilize their power unfairly to the detriment of everybody else.
For example Local Results. Search for <snip>.
The websites that really match the search are pushed down 4-5 links and Google's goofy search results come first.
[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 3:08 am (utc) on April 11, 2004]
[edit reason] we don't do specific searches - ck the tos please. [/edit]
|I think the Public Relations department might be part of the problem. It is a geek company and most of them have no clue that the public would not view them the same way as other geeks. |
I think that they could also do a much better of setting expectations appropriately.
I wholeheartedly agree with this. PR has never been there strong point. Given time though, Google will learn how to spin with the best of them.
|Reason 2 is that the results really aren't very good anymore. I am getting fed up with so many junk, purpose built, sites appearing in the results. I should know, because I own some of them. Yahoo is MUCH better at filtering these out at the moment. The only strength of Google at the moment is the depth of spidering, and Yahoo can't be too far behind. |
Yahoo is quite good at filtering out a lot of sites these days. The problem is no one knows or can tell us why.
|Reason 3 is that Google treats webmasters like dirt. It is great to have Googleguy(s) here, but that doesn't detract from the fact that Google holds together a massive web economy, yet does little to protect that economy. I have seen numerous sites get penalised in Google for absolutely nothing (and far more who did deserve it). I understand that Google can't be responsible for everyone on the web, but being this callous with the livelihoods of webmasters leaves a bitter taste. |
You cant be serious. Google has done more to make a lot of webmasters a whole lot of money than any other search engine. If you arent using Google to make money, then you arent using Google correctly.
As for gmail, time will tell if people find the ads annoying. With regard to privacy, well, some people just dont get it. They give up ID#'s upon request, confirm account numbers by clicking a link in an email and generally have no understanding of the importance of personal information. They dont realize that the company IT guy (remember the SNL skit?) has access to their email whenever he wants it. The silver lining to this 'outcry' is the opportunity for public education.
<<You can't possibly believe that. You are misunderstanding how a successful business is built if you do. >>
I was overstating it as to preemptively squash rxd's same ol' same ol'. Fact is that commercial results are very important to Google as is the happinness of folks here. I personally know a few here that manage millions of dollars in client accounts with Google. I doubt G really wants to pi$$ off the webmasterworld crowd too much as there are TENS OF MILLIONS spent overall by WW members with Google ads.
Saying that the only thing that matters is the satisfaction of searchers is beyond absurd. Advertisers and publishers are quite important as well.
As far as discontent goes, I really don't have any other than the fact that Florida seemed way off the mark. Since then, all seems cool, except for new sites not scoring at all.
Oh, gmail is ridiculous - hope they don't tie it in with regular adsense publishers or there won't be much advertisers left for us...
>> d) public relations dept?
Seems like they're about to do something about that: [google.com...]
>Considering Gmail isn't even available yet, there is little public outcry.
128 news stories [news.google.com] were negative or critical of Google/Gmail. Of those I would figure a fifth/fourth were original. That is more negative stories in one week about google, than in its entire history. Oh no, this isn't a little Florida update isolated to tech sites - this is massive sustained collateral damage being done. There is no putting the genie back in the bottle on this one. It is bunker mentality time.
The thing that strikes me about it all though, is that it appears to be some piling on. It is a feeding frenzy by the press. They smell a bit of blood in the water and are circling.
btw: The gmail debate itself is going on in the gmail forum...
> Google has done more to make a lot of webmasters
> a whole lot of money than any other search engine.
Newbie! lol! AltaVista, Infoseek, and Excite were MUCH easier to make money on that Google ever has been. Google has been far-n-away the toughest nut to crack of any of the engines.
> Google's management has been highly focused
> on the up coming I.P.O.
The last authoritative word we heard was from the ceo himself, who said there was no IPO planned. Last outsider info we have is that there will be no Google IPO in 2004. It would be quite unlikely to see Google IPO in the next year.
I think that I need to clarify slightly.
Google has done wonders for the web, and has set very high standards for the other players to aim for. I was simply stating why I think they are getting a hard time at the moment.
|You cant be serious. Google has done more to make a lot of webmasters a whole lot of money than any other search engine. If you arent using Google to make money, then you arent using Google correctly. |
And isn't this part of the problem? Google created the market for many many people to make money from the web. I don't necessarily think that the web would look anything like it does today if Google hadn't come along. That market now has thousands of managers, employees and sole traders dependent upon it, many of whom depend on Google for a significant proportion of their income. Google accidently penalises many of those legitimate companies every time it introduces a new set of algorithms/spam filters. Such is the way when automation is used to remove the junk. And many innocent people suffer badly because of it.
This is not a small issue either. While Google has created the jobs, it also jeopardises the safety of those jobs. This damages the whole web economy.
How many small time webmasters have spent months building up a decent site only to have it wiped out of Google during an update? Lots.
How many Mom and Pop companies have had their income slashed from being penalised in Google unfairly? Lots.
Do I necessarily blame Google for all of this? No. Unless they employ more human editors to deal with the spam issue, this is probably an unavoidable side effect. However, the bigger Google gets, the more sway it has over the income of more and more people, and the more careful they should be. And the more webmasters who get hurt, the more people they will have complaining about it; hence Google is taking a beating at the moment.
To put it another way, Google is like an employer sacking entire departments of people because 80% of them are incompetent. The other 20% have a legitimate complaint about being treated very badly.
We can all say that people shouldn't be dependent upon one search engine and they should bring in traffic via other means, but even then Google accounts for so much of a site's traffic it is scarey. Google is always going to get blamed when that income ceases with or without legitimate reason.
Google is valued at $12Billion, but how many times larger is the real web economy built up around Google?
>> d) public relations dept?
It seems to me that Google's PR machinery succeeded too well but peaked out prematurely before the IPO. Idea was to create the image of the next HP, the original builder of the Silicon Valley. Two Stanford PhD students tinker with some tech stuff in a garage and blah blah blah. It was expected to reach a peak at original IPO time when the venture capitalists backing Google would have made their exits with personal island-buying windfalls.
IPO got postponed. Competitors started spreading rumors that Stanford PhDs + neurosurgeon = academic bent. Not good for real businesspeople like you and me with mortal IQs.
Google will change its PR strategy. Original strategy backfired but since their technology is still first-rate, I think they will be able to ride out this.
(Just my rumblings on a Saturday night. You can guess that I am not a marketing guy. ;))
"Google has been far-n-away the toughest nut to crack of any of the engines."
That makes me feel better, Brett. :) Seems like a good time to remind folks that there's other search engines out there and diversification plus keeping eggs in many baskets means that folks should go try to crack other search engines' nuts as well. I was reading a book that had a chapter about Infoseek, and all the utterly insane things that spammers did to show up all over Infoseek for all kinds of off-topic words. It was just wild to read about.
And I know that at least a few WebmasterWorld readers will now smile nostalgically as they recall the adventures they had with Infoseek.. :)
Google is trying so had to filter spam and they've done a good job of it - but in turn valid returns have also gone away.
What Google had was the best ever, what they turned into is tomorrows Alta Vista slapping down spam and decent search results all at the same time.
The idea that a site has to have links from an authority site to be valid means that the real meat on the internet will never be found on google again (unless they go back to what was working).
"Go Local" and then try to find a car, or real estate, or insurance and you will see how bad Local Google is, speaking of spam.
>The thing that strikes me about it all though, is that it appears like it is a bit of piling on to me. A bit of a feeding frenzy by the press. They smell a bit of blood in the water and are circling.
My take too. The thing is with Gmail using it is *totally voluntary*. It's not like people won't be able to search for websites using Google unless they also use Gmail. If the privacy implications of Gmail bother anyone, they merely need not sign up, and they'll have no problem at all with it.
"Seems like a good time to remind folks that there's other search engines out there ...."
Very true Googleguy, but until Yahoo went it's own way, Google directly or indirectly provided 80% more or less of most site's traffic. That's been true for my site for at least a year or longer, so in order to continue to grow the business I concentratd on SEO for Google.
The latest updates along with Yahoo's change taught many of us a hard lesson. The problem I saw was along with the Algo changes came slower indexing of sites, so reacting to the changes (if you thought you knew how) was a frustating exercise. I survived by using auctions, but others weren't as fortunate.
Yahoo is now sending about the same traffic as Google, so I along with others am spending more time on the Yahoo forum. Since many can't figure out how to rank with both, if Yahoo contiunes to gain and passes Google, SEO efforts will flow to Yahoo and Google's results will eventually become less relavent.
It seems that Google had too many pots cooking at once and whether by design or through unintended consequencs caused grief to many webmasters and frustration to many searchers.
Just my 2 cents worth. I feel better now
Focus on Yahoo is warranted too, because I firmly believe that their traffic converts better than Google traffic - much better.
I feel Google has brought on criticism with their decisions, I doubt it's just a case of picking on the 'big guy', or people would have been picking for a couple of years now.
Could be the new phds assigned to create the new algo have made it so complicated that nobody actually understand it anymore even them at the googleplex. lol
Currently, I'm seeing multiple duplicate(mirror copy including graphics and design) contents from the same site 'awarded' as backlinks and passing PR to each copy page( a PR loop?). It couldn't get worst than that. :)
|wifi on the fly|
I think it had to be the paranoia that got Google. With the hords of people out trying to come up with the Google Algo has made them change their results so radically that it killed the Algo's and the SERP's that people could count on.
I don't think Google is so much trying to kill the webmasters and SEO, as it is trying to keep the competition guessing as much as possible.
Right around Florida is where the big G went from high quality, business basing results, to a SERP that probably had good intentions, but didn't and doesn't mesh with what Google was in the past.
On a huge plus side for Google, the majority of my results STILL come from Google.
>I don't think Google is so much trying to kill the webmasters and SEO, as it is trying to keep the competition guessing as much as possible.
Yes, absolutely, this has to be their primary defensive objective. And if they ever slip and fail -- and that means let webmasters and SEOs figure out what they're doing, they are dead as Altavista just like, um, Altavista.
The problem was, pre-Florida, too many people had figured out to subvert the results. Now all those people are angry and frustrated.
>Newbie! lol. AltaVista, Infoseek, and Excite were MUCH easier to make money on that Google ever has been. Google has been far-n-away the toughest nut to crack of any of the engines.
Hardly a newbie at making money on the net. Regardless, Google offers multiple ways to make money that AV, Info and Excite did not. While it may have been easier to rank, more people are making more money today with Google than they did with the aforementioned memories.
The point is, with Google, you dont need to crack the top 10 serps or the algo nut to profit with Adwords or Adsense, as many with no clue about the nut yield a very good ROI with PPC. And cracking the nut really isnt that hard. There is a really good article frequently referenced here about building a successful site for Google in 12 months. I hear its still applicable. ;)
>it appears like it is a bit of piling on
Definitely, but thats what the press does best, whether its over-hyping the IPO that may never be or ripping them for privacy issues that are or should be the responsibilty of the user. So Google pushes the envelope with gmail and floats a trial balloon that they had to know would get flak. Very simple for Google to make a few changes and have the press once again singing their praises for 'doing no evil'. Meanwhile Google has still forced the competition to improve, whether its email or search.
|That's a good question, Brett. I know that the atmosphere inside Google hasn't changed in any substantial way, e.g. become money-grubbin' or caring less about our users or their privacy--we're still working hard to give high-quality search results back to users. And if you go into Google on a Saturday like today, you'll see quite a few engineers there. |
Oh wad some power the giftie gie us
to see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An' foolish notion."
(SOURCE: Robert Burns: "To a Louse", 1786)
Google built its brand on two things:
1. Quality results
2. Free from a commercial skew
This fitted the Utopian vision of the Internet and both sides of the equation where as important as the other. There was a kind of trust built between Google and its users. Absolutely no doubt that Google results could be trusted. They were completely clean.
The complete destruction of the second part of this equation now threatens to destroy the first. I think that there is a very real danger that users will start to distrust results and become suspicious of Googleís motives. You see from an outside point of view Google has not just done a U turn and put its foot on the commercialism gas pedal, it has embraced its conversion to commercialism in such a strong way that commercial is its new brand image, oh and by the way the results are OK. Every new product that Google launches seems to be focused on making money from advertising further strengthening its single minded brand image of commercialism.
If you have got this wrong your golden goose will lay eggs like mad for a while and then whither and die. I wonder if the noise that motivated Brett to start this thread is an indication that the goose is starting to feel the stress of kicking out those eggs.
Personally I donít see a problem with this commercial bias on its own it is simply the strength of the U turn that kind of grates a bit. Itís a bit like the Pope installing condom machines in the Vatican ;)
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