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Sunday Times Article on Google
Couldn't have got it more wrong if they'd tried!
surfgatinho




msg:719211
 12:15 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

But try searching for the lowest air fare to Prague, or a cheap family holiday in Orlando, and Google gets confused, throwing up many thousands of websites, a few of which have paid large sums of money to come near the top of the results.

[travel.timesonline.co.uk...]

Google gets confused! LOL!
Nice idea about paying to get to the top of the SERPs though - is that lible?

The rest of it isn't much better - shows a complete lack of understanding and research into the whole affiliate industry.

OK, it's nice that they are picking up on the whole G$ thing but this kind of (possibly libleous) badly researched rubbish doesn't help anyone.

 

Brett_Tabke




msg:719212
 2:20 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I wonder where they got the idea [webmasterworld.com] to do a travel story this week ;-)

Ya, the travel sector continues to be all the engines biggest junk sites problem.

europeforvisitors




msg:719213
 2:28 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Nice idea about paying to get to the top of the SERPs though - is that lible?

Libel requires malicious intent.

Dumb article, though. The writer is comparing apples and oranges.

Roger_L




msg:719214
 2:50 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think, if you read the whole article he is referring to paying SEO firms to help you get to the top of the natural listings. He never says about paying Google to appear in the results (bar the sponsored listings).

sem4u




msg:719215
 2:54 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think the author is quite confused...

Couldn't read page 2 either:

"There appears to be a temporary server failure, please try later."

idoc




msg:719216
 2:55 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

You have to consider here that the writer is a regular "joe surfer". He doesn't know the inner workings of seo or adwords marketing or how the engines work... nor should he *have to* to find a hotel. Which, I think is the whole point of this article. That the writer comes across as "joe surfer" is no detriment IMHO. There are alot of frustrated folks out there not as adept as we are at filtering affiliate "piffle" sites when they are trying to accomplish something online. And yes, the top listings across all serps pages *are* paid adwords ads. It has been posted here before "joe surfer" wouldn't know the difference between those and organic serps most of the time.

Dayo_UK




msg:719217
 3:00 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Erm.

Couldn't get past first page - did not want to really anyway.

Yep as EFV says it is comparing apples to oranges.

Idoc - affiliate piffle - he is singing the praises of an affiliate site in the article. (and a bit of a spammy sub-domain one at that)

surfgatinho




msg:719218
 3:05 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Many internet users assume that, while sponsored links on search engines are bought and sold, regular results are based purely on relevance. Not true. Search engine optimisation (SEO) software enables firms to bury coded words into their web pages, forcing them up the lists of results. SEO is a black art and doesn’t come cheap: some companies pay thousands per month to SEO providers (Google receives no money) to have their sites tweaked.

It's particularly unfortunate that someone comes out with an article claiming this at a time when it's harder to purposefully manipulate the SERPs than previously.

Also I'm not that sure what the point of the article is at all:
It's hard to get to the top of a competitive field and may take both time and money - err, welcome to the real world.

My other favourite line is:
Some of these are emerging as the new giants of online travel, others are obscure little sites put together by enthusiastic amateurs.

That one really cracked me up. Aff marketers may work in their underpants but many earn more than journalists!

Anyway, all those of you who where hoping the press would pick up on the 302 issue should read what a hash up they can make of the simplest SE related issues! The mind boggles at what this guy would come out with on that topic!

idoc




msg:719219
 3:25 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

To quote the article: "SEO is a black art and doesn’t come cheap"

SEO used to be more of an art than a black art. IMHO, writing good content that is indexable, weighting keywords, positioning text on page etc. *was* an art. Scraping your competitor, redirecting or framing content that doesn't belong to you etc. is more black art to me than art. The doesn't come cheap part is a no-brainer. i.e. What does a good on topic pr7 or pr8 inbound text link or a press release that will give good inbound pr links cost?

wordy




msg:719220
 3:36 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Another problem is that websites spend large sums to appear on Google, and are forced to pass on those costs to customers."

Er, I thought this was called Marketing!

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:719221
 3:39 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

You have to consider here that the writer is a regular "joe surfer". He doesn't know the inner workings of seo or adwords marketing or how the engines work... nor should he *have to* to find a hotel.

Absolutely!

The rest of you guys should take of your webmaster and SEO hats for a minute and look at this from the outside. That's what the journalist did (btw what have his earning got to do with it?) If you look at this from the outside as Joe Surfer then it is a good article, quite accurate and providing good advice.

I do quite a bit of traveling myself and when looking for hotels or car hire I seldom have much success on Google (or any search engine for that matter). I tend to use sites that I know will deliver value, including some of those listed in the article. So don't dismiss this a irrelevant. It is the second negative article about Google this week in the UK. Watch this space.

hurlimann




msg:719222
 3:52 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

You do not need to prove malicious intent in a UK civil libel case.

In any case the trust of the ST article was true.

lovethecoast




msg:719223
 3:57 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I thought it funny this author didn't really have much of an idea about what he was talking about, but we've all seen that many times when the press writes about our various industries. They look at things from the 10,000 foot level and try to write a detailed article for their readers.

The travel sector is completely bogged down by spam. The directory sites are nothing but absolute spam. They scrap information off legitimate websites, many run by families, and aggregate that information to show ads and then sell the top spots to the website owners whos information they're basically stealing. You can't complain because if you do, they remove you from their directories and your competition stays.

I personally would love to see a US based news organization sue Google for their news aggregation service and win. The directory sites are not helping the web -- they're cluttering it up.

surfgatinho




msg:719224
 3:58 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

BeeDeeDubbleU

Granted the travel side of web search is far from ideal but this article is beyond naive. OK firstly why pick on Google in particular, Google is possibly the least spammy in this area (so little or no research there). By all means have a go at Google (I often do) but not on this one!

Next, why make comments about passing on the cost, a being cheaper than b, when in fact 90% of these sites use the same booking engines. (less research there)

And - what's the news. I read a better article about air fares nearly 2 years ago.

Finally, why should online marketing be any different to other marketing. Just because Google is free (up to a point) doesn't make it a not for profit industry.

btw what have his earning got to do with it?

The author of the article was the one who naively implied many of these aff sites were run by "amatuers" from there bedrooms! I was merely pointing out they probably don't put in 10 hours a day for the fun of it.

Skier




msg:719225
 4:09 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

when looking for hotels or car hire I seldom have much success on Google (or any search engine for that matter)

As a somewhat experienced searcher, SEO, and travel site owner, I have to agree. I have spent several days looking for a vacation package for myself this week, and it has been a frustrating excercise.

Convenient on-line research and shopping for travel? It has been time consuming and annoying. Gave up, called a travel agent and got what I wanted in an hour....

The travel sector is completely bogged down by spam. Google gets confused! The author, as Joe Surfer, properly reports that it doesn't work well enough for him.

reseller




msg:719226
 4:23 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

The writer is aiming at the general public. And regardless of the level of knowledge of the writer to SEO, affiliate marketing and technical terms, I guess the main point of the article is still a valid one:

"Many internet users assume that, while sponsored links on search engines are bought and sold, regular results are based purely on relevance. Not true."

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:719227
 4:50 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Granted the travel side of web search is far from ideal but this article is beyond naive.

With respect it is not naive. He properly reported his experience on Google. Also I don't see your problem with ...

Some of these are emerging as the new giants of online travel, others are obscure little sites put together by enthusiastic amateurs.

He is 100% correct in what he says here, why do you dispute this? It may be that some of the enthusiastic amateurs have actually become giants (a la Gates, Brin and Page) but his statement is nonetheless true. He did not say that the enthusiastic amateurs were not making a living from it.

mona




msg:719228
 4:51 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)


google gets confused

Funny, it doesn't seem to be very confused displaying the AdSense on the three pages of this story. Another main stream article that is so off base when it comes to SEO that it's comical.

diamondgrl




msg:719229
 5:12 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Call me Joe Surfer. I think the overall thrust of the story was an excellent one.

zafile




msg:719230
 5:35 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

"I think the overall thrust of the story was an excellent one."

I agree.

Hopefully, more stories like the one in the Sunday Times will compel Google to get tougher on spammers.

Google has to choose.

Either makes happy the hundreds of smart spammers still on top of the SERPs or decides to satisfy the search needs of Joe Surfer.

Being now a public company, the right choice is the second one.

Otherwise, Google will slowly die like Infoseek, Altavista, etc.

bears5122




msg:719231
 6:34 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

This article is written from the average surfer's perspective. I don't expect him to know what a paid ad was, nor do I expect him to know. This is his analysis of searched made in Google. This is Google's core user.

What I gather from the article is what many of us have known for awhile. Google results suck these days. Whether it is not being able to find a hotel website because their site is "sandboxed", or coming across of myriad of travel/adsense scraper sites, Joe Surfer is not impressed.

But I guess Google can stick to suing people over domains, auto-linking people's sites, and battling SEO on stupid issues. I expect to see plenty more of these articles over the next few months.

reseller




msg:719232
 6:35 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

mona

<Funny, it doesn't seem to be very confused displaying the AdSense on the three pages of this story>

With all due respect, what has this to do with the content of the article?

mona




msg:719233
 6:53 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

It was just a joke, reseller. Sorry if it wasn't a very good one;-) And I also expressed my opinion of the article. As a journalist, it's your job to report facts, not made up jiberish...
Search engine optimisation (SEO) software enables firms to bury coded words into their web pages, forcing them up the lists of results. SEO is a black art...

So therefore I think it discredits the entire story, despite the fact that most of it's true.

surfgatinho




msg:719234
 7:17 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

So therefore I think it discredits the entire story, despite the fact that most of it's true.

That's the point - this article is supposed to be written by a respectable journalist not 'Joe Surfer'. With this in mind it is appalingly researched. Maybe the guy who wrote it had just discovered Kelkoo and thought it was a revelation - this is only about 3 or 4 years out of date.
Also the sites he lists as being quality aren't any different to most of the sites in the other 90% of the SERPs - if he'd done his research he'd realise they ALL use the same booking engines!

Also the point he makes is the opposite to reality - if the SERPs were based entirely on content, titles etc the results would be even worse - what does he expect Google to do about sorting the however many million hotel sites?

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:719235
 7:32 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Search engine optimisation (SEO) software enables firms to bury coded words into their web pages, forcing them up the lists of results. SEO is a black art...

If you had to define SEO in one sentence to an audience of people who most probably would not be interested in the technicalities I think the above is close enough. It's the public he's talking to not the SEO community.

All of you who are trying to dismantle this article should bear that in mind. You should also bear in mind that almost anything you read in the media could be torn apart by the experts in the area in the subject matter. Reporters cannot be expert at everything so all they can do is report what they see and I think that is what Jon Honeyball did ;)

what does he expect Google to do about sorting the however many million hotel sites?

They (and the other SEs) could start by putting the hotel websites at or near the top on a search for the hotel name. I would be willing to bet that 95% of those who search for widget hotel smallville would prefer it that way.

idoc




msg:719236
 8:12 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well, the important thing isn't whether members here get the point of the article... it's whether Google does. The core point he was making... that the most relevant sites (in the writers opinion) aren't making it to the usable serps for travel related searches. I would tend to agree. Also, you need just to really look at your server logs to know that "joe surfer" isn't that savvy on the 'net. He *will* as an example search for your name or even your domain name in Google rather than type the address in the browser. If the statement is correct that 90% or more travel bookings run through a handful of engines... then the writers position is that much more validated when the millions of extraneous me-too sites make it impossible to find the handful of sites *really* relevant to what "joe surfer" is trying to do online.

reseller




msg:719237
 10:37 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

mona

<It was just a joke, reseller. Sorry if it wasn't a very good one;-) >

Friends :-)

<Search engine optimisation (SEO) software enables firms to bury coded words into their web pages, forcing them up the lists of results. SEO is a black art...

So therefore I think it discredits the entire story, despite the fact that most of it's true. >

Blame it on the SEO/SEM Community. Maybe its the fault of the SEO/SEM community which hasn't been successful to "educate" the public and explain what SEO/SEM are about.

Average surfers are met mostly with pop-up/under and unsolicited emails promoting SEO software of different kinds. People hear about selling links of sites with high PR. People see sites using black hat SEO techniques under the name of SEO. The few people outside the SEO/SEM community who know something about SEO/SEM think that its about tricking the search engines and adding magic codes to webpages.

The same apply for the Affiliate Marketing community. When reading some posts on these forums, one get the impression that affiliate marketing is the dirt of internet. Nobody is mentioning the hundreds of merchants and thousands of affiliates who follow ethical marketing methods. And even those affiliates who do a great PRE-SELL and add value to the affiliate program are met with less kind words.

And how about AdSense publishers? They are not in better position than SEO/SEM and affiliate marketing communities. People talk about "AdSense sites" and "AdSense targeted pages" and you name it.

It is just about to be a crime to make money on the internet, except for the big dogs!

We should keep in mind that there is a big world outside these forums and journalists mostly write for that big world. It isn't wise to defend Google blindly and meet critics of Google from outside world with words like "Clueless" "rubbish" "jiberish." etc..

And why should anybody defend Google?

Google is waging a war in daylight against the SEO/SEM community and several evidence on these forums are pointing to that direction. The quality of Google serps is in decline. Google is penalizing innoncents publishers because somebody decided to hijack their contents etc.. etc..
Why should anybody defend that?

surfgatinho




msg:719238
 10:50 am on Apr 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

OK, I re-read the article with 'Joe Surfer' in mind. And yes I agree with some of the points it makes about the difficulty finding what you're looking for in a competitive area.
However, I still find the opening of the article quite inflamatory and do not really see the point in the conclusion of the article.
I actually do a lot of work in the travel industry and am familiar with all the significant players - yes it is beyond my skill/finances to have a top 10 listing for super competitive KWs, but the companies that do are often built by small companies not coorporate giants as suggested.
The other point I found particularly irritating is suggesting the 'comparison sites' are any better. I looked at these sites and they use EXACTLY the same booking engines - the only real big business in online hotels are the companies running the booking engines.
From my perspective Google, at least to some extent, allows the rest of us to compete with the likes of Expedia.

Rollo




msg:719239
 5:28 pm on Apr 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

He's obviously not well versed in the black arts like the members of this board, but the underlying critique seems valid to me. It takes money to get to the top of the serps for a competative phrase. I think in travel especially the mega-affilaite sites crowd out the small operators on the ground that can truley offer specialized customer service, deeper discounts, and more alternatives.

People should shop around more, granted. But in some industries, original sites get burried so far down, I'd give up too.

ownerrim




msg:719240
 8:32 pm on Apr 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

the irony of this idiot's article is that the page is running google ads.

This 56 message thread spans 2 pages: 56 ( [1] 2 > >
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