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This 76 message thread spans 3 pages: 76 ( [1] 2 3 > >     
The future: Info content over commerce?
europeforvisitors




msg:97391
 10:21 pm on Nov 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

What's the future for affiliate sites--or e-commerce sites, period--in Google?

I think today's affiliate sites are comparable to mom-or-pop DTP businesses in the late 1980s and Web-design businesses in the mid- to late '90s. A lot of people jumped into those businesses and made money for a while, but the window of opportunity didn't last long.

Small DTP businesses were killed at the low end by do-it-yourself programs like Publisher, combined with cheap high-quality printers and Kinko's. At the medium and high end, they were killed by the adoption of digital processes by ad agencies, design studios, and printing firms.

Small Web-design businesses had a brief heyday when every business wanted a Web site but most businesspeople weren't familiar with the Web or how to code pages in HTML. Pretty soon, though, anybody could create an adequate low-end Web site with WYSIWYG programs like Netscape Composer, PageMill, FrontPage, Publisher, or even Word. The medium to high end of the business was taken over by ad agencies, studios, and Web-consulting firms that could offer e-commerce integration, database programming, art direction, project management, and other professional services.

Affiliate sites (the successful ones, anyway) have profited from the ability to get high rankings in Google and other search engines through clever SEO techniques. But that window of opportunity is closing, just as the DTP and Web-design windows of opportunity did, as Google gives more weight to relevant, original content and less to PageRank. I think we're going to see two types of sites emerge from the wreckage:

1) Large, high-quality e-commerce sites with original content. (Gorp.com might be a good example.) These sites would provide useful information to the reader even if you stripped out the "sell pages" and e-commerce links.

2) Editorially-driven content sites that are supported by affiliate or advertising income.

Of those two categories, I think the editorial sites are in the best position (in terms of free search listings) because they're information-based. Google could very well decide that it isn't a shopping guide, and commercial sites (even good ones like L.L. Bean or REI) should pay for advertising just as they would in the newspaper or magazine world.

In my admittedly biased opinion, it would be neither unethical nor unreasonable for Google to take such a stance. If Google were to say "We see ourselves as being like The Magazine Index, not The Yellow Pages," Google would be perfectly justified in removing shopping pages from its index or--more likely--giving them less weight than information pages. This would accomplish three things:

1) It would improve the perceived quality of search results, because information sites would tend to dominate the most-viewed SERPs. Readers would be happier, and Google would stay ahead of its competitors.

2) It would remove much of the incentive for SEO spamming by affiliate sites and other e-commerce sites.

3) It would encourage businesses to obtain shoppers and leads the way they do in the offline world: through paid advertising and direct marketing.

What do the rest of you think? Will Google continue to provide free referrals to affiliate sites and other e-commerce sites? Or will it find ways to distinguish between information sites and e-commerce sites, with the latter being required to pay for traffic?

 

john316




msg:97392
 10:43 pm on Nov 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>What do the rest of you think? Will Google continue to provide free referrals to affiliate sites and other e-commerce sites? <<

If they don't, the e-commerce customer will be searching elsewhere, thus adwords falls into its own grave. People don't perceive google as being some editorial stalwart, they just go there to find things.

If you are thinking long term, you may want to forget about Google, the web is a cold, hard place to do business because of rapid change...google is not immune.

born2drv




msg:97393
 10:55 pm on Nov 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

"Google could very well decide that it isn't a shopping guide, and commercial sites (even good ones like L.L. Bean or REI) should pay for advertising..."

I disagree. If Google pulled commerical sites, then people would not search for commercial products, so they always have to be there, at least in some back-fill form.

If they just served up 100% ads for commercial results, you would not be able to find harder-to-locate merchandise only a search engine can find and Google would no longer be Google. Like the other day I needed a very specific product, a specially made small photo booth to place items in to take pictures of. Google only retuned about 50 pages, with 2 merchants who sold it. Do you think I could have found that item on Overture? No. Serving up 100% ads for commercial searches is not the way to go.

Google is much better off migrating users from search to specially made shopping searches for more general catalog-type products. I think someone mentioned Google is working on a new shopping portal type interface, using databases of large merchants to test it out.

I wouldn't be surprised in the very near future if Google had something setup where like adwords, where we bid to be placed in a shopping portal. Imagine, Instead of just supplying a destination URL, title, desc and PPC price, you also supplied a picture URL and a price. Google could display merchants selling specific products and rank them like Adwords. Like a search for "Canon G2 camera" would pull up all people paying per click on that search term, showing their photos of products, their descriptions and price, etc. I think that's where Google is headed.

If you want to avoid this type of monetization of search results on the internet, you will have to sell very unique, customizable products which are not easily priced out, or offer services which vary significantly on price (like SEO or web design). Look at Ebay, do you see people selling web design there? I guess some do, but very few compared to commerical catalog-type products. I think Google will make the next best ebay PPC type shopping portal within the next year :) And I never think they will eliminate commercial results from pure search.

crobb305




msg:97394
 11:06 pm on Nov 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

> as Google gives more weight to relevant, original content and less to PageRank...

Who said Google is giving less value to page rank? It has been stated on this forum over and over that hundreds of factors go into determining the final ranking of a site on a particular key phrase. I doubt that many have been personally told what the actual ranking formula is.

Also, there are so many affiliate programs/networks out there that I do not see how Google would ever be able to eliminate them through hardcoding. The definition of an "affiliate site" is blurry since many companies who have "content" also have affiliate links. Would they be banned too if your scenario were to come about? The elimiation of affiliate marketers would almost need to be done manually and that does not seem very practial.

Also, affiliate links are another form of advertising. And the internet is full of advertising in many forms --paid, affiliate, link exchanges, etc. If you eliminate one, you would have to eliminate all. Google itself advertises so I can't see elimination of advertising to be something that they would likely attempt.

I say if affiliate marketers have been able to get to the top, then so be it. Advertising and links between sites are what make up the internet.

Finally...if Google wanted to be an noncommercial search engine, I doubt it would be very successful with it's new partnerships, including AOL. My site is an affiliate site. I get most of my traffic from AOL/Yahoo/Google. Daily, about 10% of my visitors find what they want, leading to a commissionable transaction. From what I have read, that is an unusually high conversion rate, and that tells me that my visitors searching on the Google database are looking for products and services--not just information.

Wrote this fast but I may have some more thoughts later :)

c

[edited by: crobb305 at 11:25 pm (utc) on Nov. 9, 2002]

europeforvisitors




msg:97395
 11:24 pm on Nov 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

Also, affiliate links are another form of advertising. And the internet is full of advertising in many forms --paid, affiliate, link exchanges, etc. If you eliminate one, you would have to eliminate all. Google itself advertises so I can't see elimination of advertising to be something that they would likely attempt.

I used the term "affiliate sites," a term that most of us would define as meaning e-commerce sites based on affiliate links. Affiliate sites are different from information sites that have affiliate links or other forms of advertising, just as a weekly shopper is different from a weekly newspaper that carries ads.

I agree that the lines between affiliate sites and information sites can get blurry, just as the lines between e-commerce sites and content sites in general can get blurry. There are many regional or local tourism sites, for example, that do an excellent job of combining useful travel information with booking links and paid ad listings. Are they e-commerce sites or information sites? I don't know. At this point, neither does Google. :-)

martinibuster




msg:97396
 12:01 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Look at Ebay, do you see people selling web design there?

Quite a lot of web design is being sold there. In fact, elance even has banner ads that target web design keywords. ;) Whether this is a viable way to scrounge up web design business, I can't say.

But back to the original topic, I think that this is a very thoughtful posting. It makes sense for Google to screen out e-businesses and make them pay for adwords. Google's methodology would be to automate the screening process. So the challenge would be to come out with heavier duty analysis. A challenge their Phd engineers are well up to.

For example: Their News Aggregator is amazing. It will skim the actual Headline to determine what the news article is about and use it in the regular Google serps.

What's amazing is that an online article generally consists of 1>Headline
2>Dek (A one sentence blurb) and
3> Title (A one to two word identifier, like "Dining" "International" or "Circuits."

The News Aggregator will use the Headline in the Google Serps. Not the metas, not the title, not the Dek, not the body text, not even the Title Tag. The beauty in this is the way Google can not only zero in on the Headline but how it accurately identifies the Headline from all of the above listed variables (head,dek,title,metas,title tag) and pops it into the Serps as: "News about "Keyword-keyword-phrase."

Google adwords is their goose laying the golden eggs. It makes total sense to incline ecommerce sites to pay for exposure. Google has the technological know-how to intelligently filter them and incline them to pay. It's an offer they won't be able to refuse.

But let's not kid ourselves about "information sites" being different from ecommerce sites. Info sites generally are not soap boxes, but a way for someone to turn knowledge into coin. Bravo!

If I look up an interesting recipe, chances usually are that I will be subjected to very many aggressive pop-ups. It pays the bills. It's not really an information site. It's quite often a hybrid. And these sites may also be subject to the ecommerce "treatment" as well.

rfgdxm1




msg:97397
 12:44 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

>In my admittedly biased opinion, it would be neither unethical nor unreasonable for Google to take such a stance. If Google were to say "We see ourselves as being like The Magazine Index, not The Yellow Pages," Google would be perfectly justified in removing shopping pages from its index or--more likely--giving them less weight than information pages. This would accomplish three things:

One obvious question: How can Google algorithmically determine an info page from a commercial one? Can Googlebot tell the difference between my website about the safe use of widgets from a site that sells widgets? Heck, the keyword in one of my domains is the *trademark* of a pharmaceutical, yet the site is about the misuse of this product, and doesn't sell it. I can easily imagine any automated algo confusing this with a commercial site because of the domain name though. The only way to determine if a page is commercial or not is human review. That'd be a LOT of manpower Google would need to do it.

europeforvisitors




msg:97398
 1:45 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Martinibuster wrote:

But let's not kid ourselves about "information sites" being different from ecommerce sites. Info sites generally are not soap boxes, but a way for someone to turn knowledge into coin.

PC Magazine is a way to turn knowledge into coin, too, but that doesn't mean it's instinguishable from a catalog for Dell, CDW, or PC Mall. And I wouldn't expect to see those catalogs indexed by a reference resource.

rfdgxml wrote:

The only way to determine if a page is commercial or not is human review. That'd be a LOT of manpower Google would need to do it.

Well, an ODP or Yahoo listing might help, depending on where (and whether) the page was listed. And other factors, such as whether the page had a shopping cart, might come into play. But I don't think this thread is about technical challenges and what is or isn't possible. For the sake of discussion, let's assume that Google will be able to make such distinctions.

Also, who says Google has to make a clearcut distinction? It could achieve nearly the same effect as banishing commercial sites just by depreciating the value of pages with shopping-cart links, fields for sales tax and shipping charges, a certain ratio of affiliate links to text, certain phrases ("generic Viagra," "Book now"), etc. Such pages wouldn't be penalized per se; they simply wouldn't rank as high in an information search as they rank with the current algorithm. Because of this, owners of e-commerce and affiliate sites would be motivated to buy AdWords or use the bid-for-placement "shopping portal" that born2drv predicted in message #3 of this thread.

Food for thought: In the offline world, businesses expect to pay for access to potential buyers--whether those prospects are TV viewers, radio listeners, newspaper and magazine readers, or people on mailing lists. Is it realistic to think that Google will always continue to deliver potential buyers to businesses for free?

chiyo




msg:97399
 2:18 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

I agree with Europe for Visitors. To me the whole analysis makes absolutely good sense.

I dont think people generally go to the Web in order to buy on-line. Even not in the US, and as far as I know that is the only country where on-line shopping has become even close to mainstream. They tend to go to find information. If on the side, through search engine PPC ads, banners and text ads on news/mag/guide sites, they buy things, thats great, and thats a good model.

Google just cannot reliably rank commercial/shopping/affilate sites. That has become more obvious over the past few months. Too many wannabees chasing after the same high potential keywords, with precious little differentiation or originality.

Instead of working on original content and new ideas, to them SEO is the best and sometimes only option, and both Google and the customer surely do not want to have sites at the top who are best SEO-ers. They want the best sites, however you may define "best" - credibility, brand recongition, range, prices, ability to pay for promotion?

Ive argued before that PR and link popularity just does not work with commercial sites or high-competitive searches. The natural "citation frequency" that is so good in finding niche and info sites, is almost useless for finding good commercial sites (for reasons outlined above), so these keywords are spammed out by articifical link popularity, nefarious cloaking, and short term cunning stunts.

I also argued many years ago, that the one-search-engine-for-all model has a limited product life span. Google proved me wrong in the short term... (in my own defence mainly because their competitors gave up through short sightedness, and Google's masterful "everyman" branding) but I still dont think the long term.

Google's move to developing Google News is one interesting development in this context.

Are they basically thinking that people who search in their main database are not really looking for breaking news, and that Google as a whole massive database, cannot provide it, seeing it is so epehemeral?

If so I agree with them.

So start a new database which is optimised for finding fast changing news content based on selected credible news sites.

So Google is moving to slicing out their news content to a different database, optimised for such content. No longer do shoppers have to worry, when searching for "blue widgets", to get the latest CNN news on "widgets Ltd. feeling blue - comes under earnings predictions"

Now amateur blog/news sites are complaining that because they are not in the News database, they are not in Google proper either. Another problem - but it underlines my argment that Google cannot be everthing to everyone but must slice out what we market researchers call "customer segments" based on their motivation for using the service.

Now this all leads to the next possible product being a shoppping search - paid for and ranked separately. Now there is a branding problem here as it conflicts with Google's "uncommercial" branding. But slowly Adwords is demonstrating to searches that you can have untainted info results with well separated commercial spins "on the side" (literally!)

And at the moment Adwords can offer commercial offerings well besides Google searches.

As soon as Google is convinced that a big enough segment of customers go to Google search and other general search engines to go on shopping expeditions, I am absolutely sure they will roll out "Google Shopping", just as they did "Google News" - as long as they can solve their branding problem - which to my mind is slowly being resolved with little by little changes to public acceptance that Google can go commercial but still retain its brand integrity..

On a personal note, I hope they dont, becuase we have noticed a major surge of interest in banner/text/sponsorship advertising on our news sites recently, as commercial operations lose Google rankings and PPc and PPI becomes respectively more expensive and more irrelevant, decreasing ROI for them, but increasing it for us!

They also have to do a competitive analysis. Are shoppers likely to go to google - or to specialised shopping portals (over various degrees) such as MySimon, Overture, vertical portals, specialist stores (Amazon, Toys for Us), auction sites like Ebay) and so on. Maybe the likes of Mall.com may even resurface as online shopping becomes easier, more secure, more honest and more culturally acceptable. Why go to a search engine when there are other specialised shopping portals.

So all a long way of saying that I agree with Europe....

born2drv




msg:97400
 3:48 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>>Are shoppers likely to go to google - or to specialised shopping portals (over various degrees) such as MySimon, Overture, vertical portals, specialist stores (Amazon, Toys for Us), auction sites like Ebay)

I think users will go anywhere there is a superior selection. I really like yahoo shopping myself. imagine that, with a database upload and a google-type superior search. Users would love it, and webmasters would jump on it, especially if there are no upfront costs and they can pay-for-performance.

They could resell this consumer search tool to Yahoo, AOL, and others and do a revenue share just like adwords. It's perfect because it keeps surfers on the portal browsing (to sign up for other products and services yahoo or AOL could offer). And since you have the photo and price right there, as the merchant, that's an EXTREMELY highly qualified clickthrough, so the bid prices will be through the roof.

If anyone could pull it off, it would be Google. Ebay is already a step ahead making the ebay stores for merchants selling the same goods over and over again. I think google wants to see other shopping sites' databases so it can create a standard format for which we can upload all our product database and PPC accordingly. I wouldn't like to see Google offer stores, etc. Just a database upload feature (for free backfill) and offer superior ranking for those who want to pay to be ontop.

This is why it will be in the best interest for you to sell goods or services that are not easily described in a catalog --- something highly customized, or unique... because only a human editor would be in a posistion to rank such products.

europeforvisitors




msg:97401
 4:16 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

How do you see travel fitting in with a stores or shopping-portal interface? (Somehow I can't see Google doing something like Yahoo! Travel.)

rfgdxm1




msg:97402
 4:27 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

>For the sake of discussion, let's assume that Google will be able to make such distinctions.

If they were able to, a useful feature would be boxes you could check "filter commercial sites" and "filter non-commercial sites" depending on what the searcher was looking for.

>Food for thought: In the offline world, businesses expect to pay for access to potential buyers--whether those prospects are TV viewers, radio listeners, newspaper and magazine readers, or people on mailing lists. Is it realistic to think that Google will always continue to deliver potential buyers to businesses for free?

No, and if what some business wants is predictable placement in Google, this is what Adwords are for. All businesses want to be on page 1 for there keywords. However, by definition this is possible only for a limited number of these businesses.

rfgdxm1




msg:97403
 4:39 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

>I dont think people generally go to the Web in order to buy on-line. Even not in the US, and as far as I know that is the only country where on-line shopping has become even close to mainstream. They tend to go to find information. If on the side, through search engine PPC ads, banners and text ads on news/mag/guide sites, they buy things, thats great, and thats a good model.

Which is what I keep saying. To keep Joe Surfer happy, Google needs to focus mainly on the quality of non-commercial SERPs.

>Google just cannot reliably rank commercial/shopping/affilate sites. That has become more obvious over the past few months. Too many wannabees chasing after the same high potential keywords, with precious little differentiation or originality.

And, how should merchants shilling widgets be ranked? Cheapest seller highest? Best quality highest? Merchant who sells the most widgets highest?

>Ive argued before that PR and link popularity just does not work with commercial sites or high-competitive searches. The natural "citation frequency" that is so good in finding niche and info sites, is almost useless for finding good commercial sites (for reasons outlined above), so these keywords are spammed out by articifical link popularity, nefarious cloaking, and short term cunning stunts.

Right. If the topic is say amateur radio, the tendency will be for those sites that have the best content on that topic to get the most links. While non-commercial sites don't mind linking to related sites with good content, commercial sites naturally don't want to link to their competition. Thus while a really good non-commercial site can rise to the top on Google because of link popularity, commercial sites have to use trickery to do it.

chiyo




msg:97404
 5:10 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

And, how should merchants shilling widgets be ranked? Cheapest seller highest? Best quality highest? Merchant who sells the most widgets highest?

Good question rfgdxm1. I would hesitate a guess they cant do it. The only sensible option if by how much people are willing to pay. The more cash sites are willing to out in promotion, generally the more confident they are of their product that they will get a return. Another "natural" filter that works in the non-Web world as well. Its bad news for mom and pop commercial and affiliate sites for sure, but I contend that unless you really CAN create something different and value added which will attract attention and links from others, thats the reality. I expect some flak from some members here, but its only my opinion, and why i exited the commercial site game on search engines years ago, and rely on other methods.

One obvious question: How can Google algorithmically determine an info page from a commercial one? Can Googlebot tell the difference between my website about the safe use of widgets from a site that sells widgets? Heck, the keyword in one of my domains is the *trademark* of a pharmaceutical, yet the site is about the misuse of this product, and doesn't sell it. I can easily imagine any automated algo confusing this with a commercial site because of the domain name though. The only way to determine if a page is commercial or not is human review. That'd be a LOT of manpower Google would need to do it.

another excellent point. My contention again is that neither Google nor anybody else can do it. And human review does not work as Y! has proved. Even for 300 bucks all they can afford is to say yes/no based on validity of code and a few very small guidelines. they dont even get close to actually ranking.

My feeling is that link popularity and Page Rank is a natural filter. As spam filtering improves these sites will start to lose rank anyway, as people generally dont link to "selling" sites unless there is something in it for then. Any good objective product or service review site with reasonable popularity should be able to outrank a 100% affiliate or e-commerce site.

Secondly Google can redirect certain queries which are onviously people looking to buy online such as "Buy <widget>" to their shopping index. It opens up a can of worms, but just a start.. Im sure Googles 50 Phd's can do better than me...

In the case of your site, your content is probably controversial enough, (and im sure credible enough) to get links from newspapers, blogs, and many general interest info sites. So just by the fact that you DO have credible incoming links shows that you are "important", and providing something uniqiue.

rfgdxm1




msg:97405
 5:37 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

>My feeling is that link popularity and Page Rank is a natural filter. As spam filtering improves these sites will start to lose rank anyway, as people generally dont link to "selling" sites unless there is something in it for then. Any good objective product or service review site with reasonable popularity should be able to outrank a 100% affiliate or e-commerce site.

The problem here is what if the searcher just wants the cheapest sellers of widgets, and doesn't care if the site also has useful, informative content about widgets? In any case, I have a big problem with most of the people whining about the quality of commercial SERPs because I find it impossible to look at such a SERP and say if it is good because my criteria of what would be best may be very different than somebody else's. Only if a search for "widget sales" comes up with a lot of sites about purple penguins or such would I say this is bad.

chiyo




msg:97406
 6:06 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

yes nicely put...

All said and done..

google is a popularity contest.

Now thats nice and democratic and a lot of times comes up with great results

But popularity is what made Brittany Spears too

If we need to find the "best" results using some other criteria other than popularity we need to go elsewhere!

rfgdxm1




msg:97407
 6:13 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

>If we need to find the "best" results using some other criteria other than popularity we need to go elsewhere!

Try various directories.

percentages




msg:97408
 6:49 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

>"I don't think people generally go to the Web in order to buy on-line. Even not in the US, and as far as I know that is the only country where on-line shopping has become even close to mainstream."

Interesting comment...but my average site makes $12K per month net profit from the web. This "Mom and Pop" web designer/SEO is seeing 400% year on year growth! Some of our customers(2%) are from outside of the US, given we sell a very US based product we are pleased with 2% overseas sales.

I specialize in an area where the trade association for the industry reports that 40% of sales are made from the Internet (no, it is not porn). From my perspective the Internet is getting more commercial by the minute and the future looks very bright. The trade association reported this year that Internet sales increased by 10% and sales via traditional advertising (newspapers, TV, radio, magazines, yellow pages, etc,etc) decreased by the same.

When I started this business 5 years ago I had a handful of competitors, today I have over 100...but as far as I know they are all making relatively good money due to growth in industry sales. We don't even really attempt to compete with each other....more than enough business to keep us all on a good growth path.

I'm sure the day will come when competing is necessary, but at the moment we are all more concerned with changing the way people shop for the product and making the Internet the primary source. Our enemy is not currently each other, it is the "alternative" sources that advertise the product.

As far as affiliate site marketing is concerned we take advantage of this also. Although our sites exist to sell our product, the reality is the shopper often wants something a little different, that we do not offer. If we get a visitor our philosophy is make a sale...if we don't offer what they want, then we send them to a site we are affiliated with and hope we get a percentage of someone else's sale. Affiliate marketing now accounts for about 10% of revenue, which is worth having.

In some cases we even send our visitors to our competitors to make a sale, and they do likewise.....making a sale is the key ingredient.

I'm not sure there is a great future for people only selling affiliate product, not unless they combine it with good content of their own. But there is definitely a future for those who sell affiliate product as a secondary choice.:)

rfgdxm1




msg:97409
 7:07 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

If the actual statistic is only 10% of the people online ever shop online, that still is a lot of money to go around for those who do sell things online. However, if you are Google you worry more about the 90% of users who don't buy things online.

martinibuster




msg:97410
 7:55 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

google is a popularity contest

Google strives for relevance. Link POP, and all the other algo tweaks, all strive for RELEVANCE.

I may sound like a Google shill for saying this, so forgive me, but what I respect about Google's efforts is their focus on relevance.

chiyo




msg:97411
 8:29 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

yes you are correct martinibuster. In the Google algo I think the two are intertwined - but to a large extent the returns are relevant because their link popularity criteria do such a good job at pinpointing credible content. I wasnt being negative in stating G! is a popularity contest, and you are right to say it is more than that. But one really smart they did was to base ranking in popularity/linking/PR rather than on page text relevance soley as SE's were doing before.

Powdork




msg:97412
 10:07 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

If the actual statistic is only 10% of the people online ever shop online, that still is a lot of money to go around for those who do sell things online. However, if you are Google you worry more about the 90% of users who don't buy things online.

I don't know. I have thousands of visitors yearly who search for wedding reception menus. I manage a restaurant that happens to have wedding reception menus on the site. These people make me no money so I dislike them (its not the bandwidth, its the wading through the insignificant statistics). I suppose I could charge for a link to someone who does make money off of people who search for this. Much like Google does with adwords. My point is this, Google only worries about the 90% that doesn't buy online because they are the prospective clients rather than the current ones. More money spent shopping online means more money spent advertising on line and i think Google may like that.
Hello rfgdxm1, there is an interesting thread on Foo regarding snow.

rfgdxm1




msg:97413
 10:34 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

>My point is this, Google only worries about the 90% that doesn't buy online because they are the prospective clients rather than the current ones.

There also is another side benefit. While I rarely ever buy anything online, I'm the sort of person that others who know me consider me highly knowledgeable about computers. I'm seen as the nerdy, geek type. There actually have been a number of people who have switched to Google because I specifically commented I used that search engine and thought it was the best. Thus, by appealing to me with high quality non-commercial SERPs, Google derives benefit from others who do commercial searches that use Google because I recommended it. I've seen a number of others who have commented that Google's "geek appeal" has ended up helping them a lot with acceptance by the general public.

WebManager




msg:97414
 11:10 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Because commercial sites are so adept at getting to the top of the listings - when I do a Google search for info myself I tend to avoid #1 in the SERPs!

It is invariably trying to flog you something rather than advise - fair enough!

I'm a great fan of about half-way down Page 1. (round about where my fun-filled, info-packed site is... ;) )

mat_bastian




msg:97415
 11:20 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think the problem with google doing what the starter of this thread proposes is less a problem with googles indexing and ability to differentiate between types of sites, but more a problem in googles inability to read the searchers minds.

If I do a search for blue widgets, how is google to determine whether I am looking to purchase blue widgets or not. Especially when at the same time that I want to purchase blue widgets, I want to read about which brand of blue widgets provides the best performance for my particular application. I would be rather annoyed having to search two indexes for what used to show up in one. Running a seperate db, seems to be counter productive to offering relevant results since the one factor that google can't control is the users intentions.

europeforvisitors




msg:97416
 4:53 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

...Especially when at the same time that I want to purchase blue widgets, I want to read about which brand of blue widgets provides the best performance for my particular application. I would be rather annoyed having to search two indexes for what used to show up in one.

In that case, it would be in your interest for Google to point you to an editorial site that carries advertising or affiliate links--e.g., an "information" site as opposed to an "e-commerce" site or (even less useful) a cookie-cutter affiliate site that merely provides a paragraph or two of boilerplate catalog copy and a link to bluewidgets.com.

Also, you wouldn't necessarily have to search two indexes. If Google merely gave greater weight to "information" sites, you'd still be able to find e-commerce sites (or even affiliate sites) about blue widgets. You just wouldn't find them dominating the top 10 or 20 results on a search for "blue widgets" as opposed to a search for "buy blue widgets" or "blue widgets stores."

For that matter, since Google indexes pages instead of sites, it's conceivable that you might find a commercial Web site's pages (or an affiliate site's pages) in the top 10. But those pages would be information pages--such as "Finding the right swimsuit for your figure" at Land's End or "The Canoe Selection Guide" at a john-does-canoes.com) instead of sell pages for bathing suits or canoes.

Powdork




msg:97417
 5:56 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Because commercial sites are so adept at getting to the top of the listings - when I do a Google search for info myself I tend to avoid #1 in the SERPs!

Regardless of whether I'm buying or searching for info or free stuff I will always ignore sponsored links and adwords. Regardless of the SE I will scroll down to web results, or web pages or whatever. I don't always skip past #1 but I do eye it with suspicion. I'd like other people to eye my site with suspicion though.:)

Helpmebe1




msg:97418
 12:25 am on Nov 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

As for adwords.. yes, I agree.. I never ever click on them either..and dont mean to offend anyone but it is always crap sites in adwords.. little wanna bes who are at work all day and run a junky looking site at night.. well thats my finding anyway...

Chiyo wrote:

People dont go online to shop. Ohh no? How many billions are spent in ecommerce? Many many billions..obviously someone is shopping online here in the US. To see google weed out commercial sites, well minus well closeup and put the out of business sign up. Northern light.. who remembers them? Never did use them but now that they are strictly news and information.. I will never journey over to see them. Google would be gone in a second if they did that. Personally.. I think google has seen the best of its days and it is only downhill for them now. I truly do believe that. I sense alot of greed coming from them and it will only kill them off.

Will google do a yahoo shopping? I am sure they will.. but their goes their credibility! Why do I use google to shop? Because I know the little guy can make it in like anyone.. I am not paying for his advertising costs on and offline..their huge marketing team or management team and I am giving the mom and pop guy the business. I like that idea.. Once I see google requiring people to get into a price war on bids and placement.. well that is the day I no longer use google. That is the day the giants take over with their high advertising budgets and they take over and put the little guy under. That makes me alittle sick considering I am not a fortune 500 company but have put 2 years of my life into developing a business and a website that is many thousand pages in size.
Personally I hope altavista comes in with their revamped style and knocks google right down to size. Regardless if I am ranking number 1 for the thousand or so products I carry.. I think google has outdone themselves and needs some serious competition to come in and kick some as* and put them back in their place..
The more I read on here about google and the more I follow google the less and less I like google.. I dunno.. but I hope someone comes in and swipes some of their accounts.. lets see AV in yahoo or iwon.. lets see somoene come in and cut them down to size...

chiyo




msg:97419
 12:48 am on Nov 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hello Helpmebe1

Just to correct your misquotation from me.

I don't think I ever said "People don't go online to shop". If I did, it was a mistake as i dont belive it in the slightest.

I did say that the majority (possibly great majority) of people who use search engines don't - especially in non North American markets.

I dont think anybody will disagree that people DO go online to shop. Its just that its a small minority. Furthermore I dont think that benefit will ever become a competitive advantage for Google users, or users of other mainstream search engines. For smaller specialised search engines dedicated to helping people find e-commerce offerings - yes.

Google didn't become the popular everyman index it is by directing people to the best places to spend money. In fact they did the opposite while their competitors failed in their attempts to do the latter. They did it by directing people to the best non-commercially influenced information and content.

My argument is that the Google main index is not the best place to sell directly for the various reasons outlined earlier - in summary - ranking methododology, the fact that they can now separate commercial from info content with Adwords, and the fact that other methodologies and destinations can do it much better (specialised e-commerce directories, Ad words, Overture, branded online shops like Amazon, toys R us, and advertising in related content informational sites plus other search engines that rely on PFI and PPC by incoporating LS, Overture, Findwhat etc. etc.). Hey maybe even AV now :)

Having said that your argument..

"...Why do I use google to shop? Because I know the little guy can make it in like anyone.. I am not paying for his advertising costs on and offline..their huge marketing team or management team and I am giving the mom and pop guy the business..."

does strike a chord.

The SE industry did open up a massive opportunity for low overhead businesses to get promotional exposure on the Web. But that was always a short term thing while they tested their models and algos and matured as an industry. There was no way long term, that SEs could provide free promotion to commercial ecommerce ventures.

Search Engines (generally) never made money while they were developing. SEO companies did though. A massive spin off opportunistic industry made money while the ventures that provided the vehicle for them didnt, and went under...

It was not so much a case of killing the golden goose, but the result of inevitable developments in the Web and e-commerce. I'm still astounded by the number of people dabbling in SEO here who are chained to a past which has now moved on dramatically.

There is absolutely no reason why the commercial Web, is not subject to the same base realities of doing business that business off-line has always had. So why I sympathise, and yes we ourselves also benefitted greatly from the early days, and we are a Mom and Pop, I personally (and this is just IMHO) feel these days are over and we have to move forward... The opportunity passed many months ago...

<off-topic>
And thats not to say SEO is dead. Its just now less easy and profitable, the first mover advantage disappeared several years back, things move very fast on-line, and it must be much more intelligent. SEO is no longer a cottage industry, and it must learn how to broaden etc..

Absolutely agreed e-commerce is a major industry. Where I differ maybe, is that I think the role and extent of Search Engines in promoting it, has changed considerably.

</offtopic>

RobinL




msg:97420
 1:24 am on Nov 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

I really like this idea, because I don't think that the info sites can compete with the budgets in the commercial networks. Take any consumer product. If a user searches for "the name of the product - say a one word keyword" - the information / review sites are going to be most valuable to the searcher, however the larger commercial sites will be able to beat them just because they have money. The only problem I see with this is where do you define the line between commercial and info. I mean we are a 99% info based site, we have free reviews and lots of news, but we also sell CDs that are tutorials - would we be considered commercial?

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