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Lobby group to challenge search engine practices
I dont think they will get far

 10:37 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

The group will represent individuals' complaints, but the main aim is to campaign on general issues. According to Bolger, these include the 'spiralling cost of pay-per-click' listings, search engines' 'refusal' to deal with queries from sites about listings disappearing, and their allegedly removing sites' algorithmic listings then asking them to buy paid-for listings.


Is the spiralling cost simply the real world. If it was not then surely we could all afford prime time TV ads. Demand drives the price. It is not a charity!


Marketing Guy

 5:05 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi Shurlee

You have a good point about broad generalisations, but you must admit that there are cases where "spam is spam" and any grey area there may have been has long been passed.

I like your "put up or shut up" suggestion, although I think it may be against TOS.

Feel free to take my profile site as an entry for scrutiny though. It's not technically great, but it is spam free.

Scott :)


 5:08 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think the lobby group has a really good point.

And to take the issue a step further, I've constructed ten true/false questions for your dining and dancing pleasure. If no one has anything to hide, no one will care if I make this post. We'll see what happens. I was not allowed to start a new thread with this post. So here we go.

True or false:

1) Google would stand to make a lot more money in the short term, via its AdWords program, if it became increasingly more difficult, and took an increasingly longer amount of time, to get new sites into the index.

2) Google would stand to make a lot more money in the short term, via its AdWords program, if the index pages from many of the sites in its index were omitted from the SERP's altogether, and internal pages were displayed instead.

3) Google would stand to make a lot more money in the short term, via its AdWords program, if the SERP's were rotated on an increasingly frequent basis, resulting in sites being displayed, for example, on Page 1 for a certain search phrase -- at any given moment, or, during any given "update" -- and on Page 1000 the next.

4) Google would stand to make a lot more money in the short term, via its AdWords program, if long-established sites began dropping from the index altogether -- despite having been present in that very same index for months and months prior to their disappearance.

5) Google would stand to make a lot more money in the short term, via its AdWords program, if the old adage "content is king" no longer proved to be true, as it pertains to a site getting high rankings for specific search phrases.

6) Google would stand to make a lot more money in the short term, via its AdWords program, if the old adage "build quality inbound links" no longer proved to be true, as it pertains to a site getting high rankings for specific search phrases.

7) Google would stand to make a lot more money in the short term, via its AdWords program, if, on an ever-increasing basis, Googlebot began to ignore the number of inbound links pointing at any site in its index.

8) Google would stand to make a lot more money in the short term, via its AdWords program, if there was increasingly less and less coherency in the way it ranks Web sites for search phrases.

9) Google would stand to make a lot more money in the short term, via its AdWords program, if deep-crawling were reduced or eliminated altogether, resulting in the omission of new content and new Web pages from its index.

10) Google would stand to make a lot more money in the short term, via its AdWords program, if some of the sites in its index were occasionally given a reduced ranking via "human intervention" -- i .e., a Google employee hand-picks a site, and gives it a reduced ranking in the SERP's.


 5:11 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi Scott

I respect your comments and your view. I am well aware of the potential conflict of interest, but people just have to trust me. Bottom line, if at any time anyone does not like the direction that the Group takes they can pull out. They then will get no emails (if indeed they have got any at that stage). I certainly am not looking to control the SEO world in any way and have no interest in doing so. In fact, if I were to be critical of the existing search engines it would be with the lack of co-operation they have shown with the SEO industry. If I ran a large search engine my first task would be to get closer to the SEO industry and get them working with me not against me. "spammy pages" suggests that we flood listings for search results. We certainly do not. We operate in an ethical manner that is concerned with the user experience - if the user is taken through to a site that is relevant to their original search that is a good user experience and in my view provided that you take that view you will not have any great problems with the search engines.


 5:12 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)


The first task of any campaign is awareness.
...don't shoot the messenger.

What is the scoop with SEMPO? DOA or still ramping up?



 5:44 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

FdL, your points may be valid, but IMO, G has shown itself less short-termist than most on the net.


 6:33 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

It's not technically great, but it is spam free.
It is also not in the top 20 on Google or ATW for the keyword phrase "career information", the first phrase in your meta keyword tag.

I'm not the one to be judging anyone's site because I believe you, or anyone else for that matter, has the right to build their own site any way they like without it being called spam. I have no idea why you would employ any technique. I don 't know what your objective was when you used it, and for all I know you are a decent guy who deserves the benefit of the doubt.

I have no idea how many domains you have mirroring the site or how many links you paid for or reciprocated. To me, it doesn't matter. If you own one or a thousand, you have broken no laws.

For all I know, this little paragraph at the very bottom of your page:
>Jobseekers Advice is dedicated to providing the best career advice and information for finding jobs, CV advice, covering letters, marketing yourself for jobs, interview advice, getting experience, dealing with recruitment agencies and much, much more. If you feel there is anything lacking from our career advice information, feel free to contact us and we shall endeavour to add it! No content on this site may be used without the express permission of Jobseekers Advice.<

isn't an attempt to just add keywords into virtually meaningless sentences, it's merely an extra step to make sure that anyone reading the first 34,000 bytes of the page didn't miss some important info your site offers. For all I know, it's not an attempt to increase keyword placements in search engines that obviously failed for the term career information, rather it is just good ethical marketing. What I do know is, it is not illegal and you don't deserve me or anyone else, even Google, judging you for why you used the technique.

That observation was made with less than one minute of looking. About the time I suspect most people look at someone else's site before posting how they are a spammer.

As Heini tried to point out a couple of weeks ago, there is no such a thing as SE spam. There are only weaknesses in the SE's algorithm. I meant to applaud that admin for making that comment when I first read it and now regret that I didn't, but the fact, yes I said FACT, remains, he was right.

If any of us can find what's wrong with a site so quickly, why can't they? Why are we demanding unattainable standards from our own industry instead of demanding higher standards from them?

Very nice site by the way MG

Marketing Guy

 7:15 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the compliment Shurlee! :)

Like I said before though, I believe there is a level of unarguable techniques that can be clearly labelled spam, such as major lists of the same keyword, of hidden text.

I design my sites based on what I know to work (a lot of which I learned here) and I also try out some new stuff of my own, without crossing the boundary of the "darkside"! ;) Technically, you could label branding as spam as it is irrelevant to the users experience to some extent.

I originally didnt have any META tags at all in the site, but read somewhere that they may have some value left so I stuck them in without much thought! :)

As for the paragraph at the bottom, its purpose is partly for SEO benefit (the extent of it's impact isnt too certain though), but also serves to stop people copying my stuff (again - effect uncertain) and as a particular message to one site that was copying my stuff.

>I have no idea how many domains you have mirroring the site or how many links you paid for or reciprocated. To me, it doesn't matter. If you own one or a thousand, you have broken no laws.

No mirrors, no paid advertising whatsoever. Initially quite a few reciprocal links, but most these days are incoming only, and I have reciprocated based on quality for my users.

I agree with your underlying principle - noone, us or SE's should judge how other people design their sites.

But it's such a grey area it is on par (in terms of uncertainty not magnitude) with saying we shouldnt judge people who commit crimes, as we are all free to live our own lives.

Unfortunately, in our industry there are businesses who have a major impact on what we do. And we can't expect them to jump and change to our whims.

(desperately trying to bring the thread back on topic...)

OK, so does something need to be done about SE control of the web?

Perhaps - they affect a lot of peoples lives and all we can hope is that they do it for honourable reasons (whatever they may be).

Should action be taken by the proposed lobby group?

IMO, no.

They have no more right to dictate policy than SE's do. And in my uneducated and uninformed opinion, the lobby group has been started for entirely the wrong reasons.



 7:16 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have to agree with just about every point you made paddy. Well put and good luck.

The fact that you are willing to step away from the group after getting it going speaks to your intentions. It's the only way that it will work.


 8:08 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Shurlee and FleurDelis, Thank you for very well presented thoughts and arguments. I could not have put it better myself :)


 8:14 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google would stand to make a lot more money in the short term, via its AdWords program, if it...

Obviously, every single one of those statements is wrong.

If you put away the paranoia for a second, then search engine placement becomes a zero-sum game very soon. There are only ten slots on the first page. If those who didn't make it have to pay for adwords this week, then a different set will have to do so next month. The net monetary effect of such movements for Google is neglectible.

There's no incentive for Google to manipulate their search results in favour of adwords. It wouldn't work even if they tried.


 8:26 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

8) Google would stand to make a lot more money in the short term, via its AdWords program, if there was increasingly less and less coherency in the way it ranks Web sites for search phrases.

FleurDeLis - I'm sorry - but there is something wrong with every single one of those statements you made.

Google won't make more money by decreasing coherency in the way it ranks webpages, or if "long-established sites began dropping from the index altogether", or if "the old adage "content is king" no longer proved to be true", or if "the old adage "build quality inbound links" no longer proved to be true", or if "Googlebot began to ignore the number of inbound links pointing at any site in its index", or if "deep-crawling were reduced or eliminated altogether".

I don't think you understand why Google has become so popular since it launched. It is because it does all the things which you say would make it more money in the long run if it stopped. This is why so many millions of people around the world use Google everyday. If they take your advice for making more money in the short term nobody would use Google anymore - they'd end up like AltaVista (sorry AV).

Google are trying desperately to stay on top in a very competetive market - why on earth would the drop every single feature which you mention to "make a lot more money in the short term"? You're thinking that they're going to drop everything which makes them attractive and different to make short term money - they're a lot more than slightly smarter than that.

too much information

 8:40 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Wow, this is a good topic. I have found myself getting frustrated that my site is not in the top of the search results even though it is more relevant than some sites that show up.

Here's the real kicker for you though. Google is a private company. They offer a service, basically their opinion of which sites are relevant to a search. Nobody is forced to use Google, and if they don't like the search results they probably aren't using Google anyway. If google started skewing their search results to benefit AdWords I'll bet they would loose users who certainly would notice the drop in search quality. And loosing users means less value to AdWords. (It's funny how it works like that)

Here's another shocker for you. Yahoo! is a private company, (publicly traded on the open market but privately owned by the shareholders for those who may think too fast.:o) ). They offer a service too. I think you know where this is going...

If you think the search engines are biased and unfair toward you or anyone else, don't go trying to regulate them, the government has no business regulating search techniques. Go out and start your own search engine that fits what you think is fair. You obviously know how to market the thing, and if the average user agrees with you, then you really would be king of the hill wouldn't you?

You talk about being forced to do things certain ways, well take your own lead and lets see if the internet community follows.

I think it would be fun to watch, especially if it was to work. Good luck.


 8:59 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Every day I come to this forum and find someone reminding the folks here that how indebited we are for search engines like google including our sites in their index but they forget to add that search engines are making money from our effort. Wake up people to the reality that links to your sites are used only as a backfill on the SERPs by all search engines. As many as 50% to 70% links on page-1 for all competitive keywords are paid for links on google or AJ or AV or any other SE as a matter of fact. Not only that but paid results occupy the prime space on SERPs where they are more likely to be clicked than any free link/result.

Search engines like google gained popularity by initially churning out quality results consisting of all sites that were added for free but as they gained popularity they started promoting PPC/adwords on the prime space of SERPs and now they are absuing their importance just like Microsoft by raising minimum bids and costly PFI.

It is a change to see someone thinking of doing something about this and doing it now before a few more Microsofts are born on internet.

Goodluck to you PaddyB and you need a lot of that.


 9:34 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

The position you have elected yourself to, if successful, will give both your personal and professional reputation a boost, no doubt increasing your business.

Im not sure that having all my clients sites banned from Google is the type of publicity Id want.


 10:06 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Lets take a quick look at the websearch market.
The product traded in this market is visibility/advertizing space.
We have four groups of players in this market:
  • Seach providers / basically software/service providers
  • Portals / they provide the audience
  • SEOs & PPC providers / middlemen brokering advertizer's money
  • Advertizers / those who bring all the money to the market, and the content.

    You don't agree? That's because in practice we have cases where one company takes up more than one role. Most prominent example is Google.
    Google started as a search provider, grew into a destination (not fully portalized yet) with a massive audience, and is now becoming one of the largest ads brokers.

    The fact remains, that the only party bringing money to the table are the advertizers, i.e. web publishers. It's them who make this whole game a market, and allegedly one of the fastest growing markets on the web.

    Consequently advertizers are the only group with the potential to put pressure on the search engines.

    Please excuse this lengthy introductory rambling, the point of it however is to show that you can either campaign for SEOs and PPC managers, or for advertizers.
    So when Paddy says there is a need for a ... force that represents small and medium sized business on the web, then I have to wonder how do SEOs come into the game?
    SEOs are out for a slice of the advertizing money. If they act purely as middlemen, bringing the money to the PPC engines and portals, everybody is happy. If the SEOs don't do it, they are called spammers.

    In any case they have a distinctively different core interest in the market than the advertizers/SMEs.

    SEOs should perhaps have a pressure group to lobby for their own interests.

    Advertizers definitely should have a saying in the websearch game.
    I'm not sure however how the two groups go together.

    So who are you talking for, Paddy? SEOs - or smaller advertizers?

  • natural

     10:27 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

    you choose to build a business that largely depends on someone else's business model, without contacting them, signing contracts, and actually doing things that they explicitly say are outside of their rules of doing business.

    THEN, as their business model matures, and they start to make changes, you go and cry mommy to the gov't to come in and regulate them?

    this has got to be the absolute lamest thing that i have EVER heard of.

    you've obvsiously got some time on your hands. undoubtably you've made some money with so many good serps (hell i have 1/10th and i'm killing it), so go start a damn search engine and quit crying.

    this is ridiculous. the wonderful thing about the internet is STILL it's free-market mentality. users like unbiased search results which, clearly, ppc and pfi are not. so, build and market a bigger and better se.

    this is such a litigious society. nobody takes responsibility for their own actions; even when they build a business based on SOMEONE ELSE'S BUSINESS.

    the u.s. is not as much a democracy as it is a capitalistic society. our gov't officials are elected based largely on how much money their party can raise for their campaign. if you enter into every business deal or business model with the idea that everyone involved is going to be out to make the most money for themselves as they can, then you would have planned for this little eventuality, and you would already be successfully marketing a new search engine.

    i'm not a big fan of google. i play by their rules, yes, but i have a much more developed business model that does not rely on their OPINION as much as it does my own strengths in marketing. i'm less of a fan of gov't regulation in an market that is still WIDE OPEN.

    i'll probably be frowned upon for my opinions, but you know what? it's time for people to take responsibility for themselves and quit blaming their shortcomings on other people, and other people's success. it's just crap.


     11:02 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

    by the way; i would be in FULL support of a new search engine, or of any other effort to dillute the monopolistic strangle hold of google.

    however, going about it in this way strikes me as weak.

    i'm with you on principal, but not execution. more competition in the SE field would be nice. gov't regulations through lobbying is like hiding behind your mommy's skirt, while you're still making faces at the bully she's scolding.

    my $.50


     12:29 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    iThink....Sorry, but I think that you need to think a little bit more about this situation. Of course Google makes money off webmasters! So do other SE's! And get this news flash, webmasters make money by using Google to their advantage. When Google lists our sites and users visit our sites, we quite often make sales...and therefore, money. Our relationship with Google as webmasters is a symbiotic one. We use them to get ahead, and Google uses us to get ahead. Why should Google be a charity organization? If you were head honcho at Google would you not try and make a penny or two? Google helps us, we help Google (and many other SE's apply here too). Google is NOT another Microsoft. You see, our relationship with M$ is NOT a symbiotic one. They take our money and that is the END of the story...end of rant...


    p.s. I believe that those who are "yelling" the loudest are those who are nowhere to be found in Google SERP's and thus have a thorn in their @rse.


     3:00 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    I think the Search Engine lobby group is a very good idea.

    It's just unfortunate that Top-Pile is, well, a bit of a running joke in the SEO community (if we're being honest, and no deliberate nastiness intended)

    Chris R, your site critique post had me laughing so much I think I cracked all my ribs. The point is, many of us have noticed these problems with Top-Pile's site before, and therefore many of us are already dismissive of them to a degree. The Top-Pile website always gives me a little chuckle, even these days. The first time I saw it though, a couple of years ago, I was astounded.

    This lack of SEO community respect for Top-Pile's methods doesn't help poor Paddy's cause one bit. i.e. how COULD someone with *visibly* very little knowledge of ethical SEO make any sort of convincing case for understanding their processes?

    Paddy, if you have time to give feedback on the following questions that would be excellent :)

    1. Just wondering...why is this new lobby site asking for permission to send messages from sponsors to subscribers?

    2. Why (on Earth) doesn't Top-Pile remove the 10-years stale SEO junk from it's main site? Is it really helping you generate more business? I would have thought it must put a lot of people off.

    Anyway, definitely good luck with the lobby site, I do think it's a great idea. If the intention is truly in the best interests of the subscribers, I am sure it will do well.


     3:21 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Google is in a position like Microsoft. They have a monopoly. When you are a monopoly you have to abide by different rules than everyone else. You say that people could decide to go somewhere else this is true but they are not. Everyone could stop using windows but they are not. As long as they provide results for Google, Yahoo, and AOL they are a monopoly. Most people don't even know that they control all that. There will come a day when the government takes a look at them. Being declared a monopoly does not mean you did something bad it means you won and now you have to play by new rules. It will happen.


     3:55 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    the ONLY people that i hear complaining are SEO's. okay? not the searching public. there are tons and tons of directories, psuedo se's, web rings, and SO many ways to find what you are looking for...and, most of that is branded searching.

    i'm not trying to tell people to use a different SE, i'm arguing that the SEO's who are crying about the big bad wolf should start their own SE.

    i just want to make that perfectly clear.

    and, after more than a decade of dos/windows, i just switched my workstations to mac, and my server to unix. people can change. most of them are just lazy or scared...some are stupid.

    <added in edit>
    the internet is still so wide open...to call anyone a monopoly on the internet is pretty crazy. monopolistic? yes, because the companies that they have partnered with own a lot of market share, but a monopoly? no. someone could come in tomorrow and blow google away, and i'll be that's more likely than the gov't getting in their s#%t.


     4:27 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    I can read through this thread and pick out the people with first-hand experience with certain SEOs. Seems like several people have actually done background research, or have historical knowledge; that carries a lot of weight with me. :)


     5:51 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Just 1 point about the suggestions that Paddy starts up his own search engine - he already has - Gobango. You may have received an e-mail or ten about it!


     7:04 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Is SEM not a modern day "Robin Hood" type industry?

    I fail to see how creating a SEM Lobby Group is going to help anyone who gets involved.

    It would be like announcing to the IRS that we formed a Lobby Group to support tax evasion and then expect a positive response.

    Threatening SE's with a copyright suit if they refuse to listen will be about as much fun as smoking thousand dollar bills. Even if you prove your case that some SE has copied (cached) your content, they will simply delist your site in compliance with the court order issued. What an achievement that will be! Maybe all my competitors will start a class action suit against Google....wishful thinking;)

    Pad, I have to admire the size of your "bol"s, but I can't help but think you are looking for a new career here?

    I'm going to crawl back under my stone now, and manipulate out of the public eye, where hopefully no one but our clients will see what we're doing:)


     7:27 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    When it comes right down to it - there is no such thing as a "bad strategy" as strategy implies a thought process at work, planning and some form of leadership.

    Bad execution of a strategy, bad planning, and/or poor leadership is the problem.

    The fact the a SEO has less desireable embedded tactics on their own site is a reflection of their strategies to clients, couple this with the developed leadership across 500 resellers, 5,000 clients and you have the makings of total meltdown across all touchpoints of your network.

    Mere spectulation on my part - but this does seem to be the logical driving force at play here in this lobby group.

    In a nutshell a leader not wishing to concede they were wrong to 500 resellers, and 5,000 clients needs a fall-guy: "search engines".

    Argumentatively spam does work but not forever - you can use it to develop a jump-start - much like speeding a burst of speed to pass a car will almost never get you pulled over, while a 1,000 mile trip burst of speed will most certainly will.

    This is IMHO nothing more than bad planning and poor leadership - the clients are now crying and the supposed "in the know crew" ain't about to accept accountability.


     7:59 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Man, some days I sure wish I was working for one of the major SEs. They must have a field day reading a discussion like this.

    Those SEOs, you gotta love them, right? Look at how they stumble over their own two feet just to be the first to bash and moan and snitch on their own, while never getting tired of repeating how we, the SEs, can do whatever we like.
    Great. All is fine in the websearch market.

    Marketing Guy

     8:15 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Im pretty sure SE's dont have such a blase attitude towards the one group of people who go out their way to alter the quality of their product.

    If, in any business, I produced a product that other people altered for their own personal gain, then I would guess that I wouldnt be to happy about it. Especially given that these people were gaining by costing me more money in resources to maintain the quality of my original product.

    SE's unfortunately have the problem that their product involves other peoples property, and that greys the area.

    If anything needs regulated it is those people who flood the web with carbon copy, keyword stuffed useless sites, just to make a quick buck.

    Personally I would see either the lobby group or the government as a greater threat to the web, if they had a say in how SE's run their businesses. That has much wider implications for all our businesses.

    Perhaps things aren't ideal the way they are, but a self appointed SE activist with questionable motiviations, or government interventions are no better solutions.



     8:22 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Agree Marketing_Guy

    I thought this statement killed their reasoning:

    Bolger said the group would seek to use copyright law as a means of exerting influence on the engines if lobbying alone doesn't succeed.


    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /

    No more copyright problems here - I suspect though not what they had in mind. :)

    Marketing Guy

     8:28 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    "we dont mind being indexed, as long as we're ranked number one..."


     8:42 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    >one group of people who go out their way to alter the quality of their product.

    SEOs, and I'm not talking about webmasters seoing their own stuff here, do in fact go out of their way to alter the quality of their product, only the product is websites, and they are the advertizers hiring the SEOs.
    Think about it. SEOs are not a flock of bats out of hell. They are hired as middlemen and service providers by the only group in this business paying all the bills.

    The only thing SEs do is indexing the web, and making it searchable. That however is not a business (or, to quote John Lervik from FAST: a small and low margin business). It is not the product SEs are selling.
    The product on sale is advertizing space. It's the only business here.


     8:48 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    absolutely agreed. You put your pages up on the public domain for people to read and use. Search engines index them, and sometimes cache them. Now by default they assume you want your pages indexed if they are publicly available.

    That's a reasonable assumption and if you dont want them i dont think any professional webmaster, and most amateur ones, and definately all SEO's cannot plead ignorance that they don't know how to robot.txt out directories or their whole sites to whatever indexes they wish.

    Of course if you ever directly registered your domain with a search engine you are also agreeing to let them index it.

    Thats good enough for me, but for many others in this thread they obviously dont think the robot.txt alternative is enough.

    Therefore alternative to stop this silliness and for SE's to be proactive is for SE's to by default not index sites unless website owners registers their agreement. I dont think that would be a big problem for the leading SE's like Google and MSN. Bascially the agreement would be that in return for considering your site for free indexing they retain the right to index cache them for specific purposes and include an extract and listing of their choosing in their indexes and on partner sites, or not to index them at all, or for to drop and reindex them at their chossing. I really dont think it would be too hard, just another field on database entries, and in 2 minutes ive thought of many other distinct advantages to SE's for doing this, in addition to clearing up the copyright issue.

    That would be far more preferable than endless accusations of how SE's "steal" Web content.

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