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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!



 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.

Marketing Guy

 9:22 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

I would imagine that an opt in index scheme would put an incredible load on search engines.

The logisitics of getting already indexed sites to agree to it are overwhelming.

In additon, how would PR be calculated? It would be based on only indexed sites, which would no doubt give SEO's a great advantage - pretty much a monopoly on the web.

Anyone without a concept of SEO would have to pay to be SEO'd or learn how to do it themselves. At least with the current system, you can create a decent site without knowledge of SEO and still get decent traffic.

In fact, an entirely opt in system would negate the need for spiders to crawl external links, because they may or may not enter prohibited territory.

So indexing times for new sites would no doubt be on par with listings in the ODP. There's a whole new Google forum for WW! ;)

I think the implications of an opt in system would make it far worse than a few disgruntled SEO's complaining about copyright infringement.


(edited - typo)

[edited by: Marketing_Guy at 10:20 am (utc) on June 27, 2003]


 10:12 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

ok marketing guy. you have convinced me!


 11:32 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Is this not an attempt to bite the hand that feeds? (more like a nip).

Just wondering how one can shout standards when their own are so questionable?

If sites are not getting indexed its because either the site or the marketing is duff.

This all sounds like some people need to work harder and make sure that site and marketing output are of a higher standard.

I know that if my clients sites are not indexed its because of me and my work and not putting the effort in.


 11:33 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Reading through the website this lobby group have set up confuses me slightly. The whole thing centres around the idea that businesses don't want search engines to index their pages. But even the group themselves know this isn't true!

The homepage says that it was all fine when search engines were driving free referrals, but "how do you feel now that search results are dominated by paid listings and large corporates?"

I feel fine - I managed to keep adapting in order to maintain the free referrals, and also exploit the paid measures etc. in order to maintain traffic levels.

I really don't understand the "I only want my site to be listed if I get lots of visitors for free, otherwise I will use copyright laws against the SEs" attitude that is prevalent on the site. I do agree with some of the issues raised - for instance more information for webmasters if a site seems to have been penalised, but I am extremely cynical about the motives and direction of the lobby group.

I get the feeling that they feel left out of the party, and so they want to spoil it for everyone, including the end user, who wants to be able to find as many sites as possible. And in any case, if search engines results are poor, or entirely dominated by sponsors, people will stop using them anyway.

The information available is also rather poorly thought out and even entirely contradictory in some cases.

From an inner page:
"We have no interest in attempting to change the search engine landscape through activist measures such as boycotting or class actions [they do go on to say that they might take this sort of action if their other measures fail.]"

From the home page, describing the measures they will use:
"We are going to do this by:
* boycotting search engines that do not offer a fair deal to small / SME businesses"

Considering the wide reaching and globally important goals of this group, I would expect this to be somewhat clearer.


 11:49 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

>robots.txt / copyright

nah, the point is just to consider the underlying structure.

Basically you have a communication between publishers and audience. All other parties involved are just middlemen, be it SEOs or the SEs.
Since a significant part of that communication is of commercial nature, there's a market, and there's money.

The thing however is: without publishers - no SEs.

So where's the incredible power the SEs have (and the fat slice of money) coming from? The answer:
The SEs took the content of the publishers and built an advertizing business on it.

So how is it that intelligent people seem to voluntarily bow to and salute this power without ever questioning it, automatically rebuffing even the slightest criticism of the SEs?

And how is it that intelligent people are blind to the contradiction of accepting the SEs as quasi authorities of the web, while on the other hand insisting on their status as private business, accountable to noone?

And why finally do intelligent people not see the fact that SEs and SEOs are in the exact same business: selling visibility to advertizers?

Now, I don't think any of this bears immediate consequences. It's just necessary to get a grip on the basics. Evaluating your own position in this scheme and seeing who has what interests.

Coming back to Paddy - SEOs (online equivalent of advertizing agencies) and advertizers are not in the same boat.
It's neither the SEs, nor the SEOs, who should take the drivers seat in the websearch market. It's the publishers. They bring the content, they bring the money.


 12:17 pm on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't know Heini - let's look at another medium - TV. The publisher really has no control.

You publish a show (web site owner), you pitch the concept to the TV Network (Search Engines/Internet) because you get advertisers to advertise during the show to reach their markets (adwords - business owners) so you can pay for the publishing of the show (website owner - or in a sense keeping the index free).

The market watches the show and doesn't like it (SE user looking for results).

The market choses go to another station instead for better viewing (SE user goes to another search engine) what happens?

The advertiser see no return and moves where the market moves(business owner moves with the market)

The show gets cancelled because it flopped (website owner no traffic)

The TV network goes bankrupt because the advertisers are gone because the market is gone.

The SEO > support staff in tune with the market (maybe)

The simple truth... a publisher without access to a market is doomed.

Is not "the medium is the message" :)


 12:36 pm on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

The same could be said about Microsoft. Everybody could switch to Apple or Linux tomorrow. It has nothing to do with what options there are it has to do with what people are doing. They are a monopoly there is no way of getting around it. Even if they are good people and whould never take advantage of it nobody knows that for sure. The internet is too important. I seriously dought if the government will let one company control it no matter how good they are. It will happen. Mayby not while Bush is in office but it will happen.


 12:46 pm on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)


So how is it that intelligent people seem to voluntarily bow to and salute this power without ever questioning it, automatically rebuffing even the slightest criticism of the SEs?

The search engines are a law unto themselves, they are privately owned and provide a service. They can do what they want with their search engines (within international and local laws obviously). It is dificult to question something that you cannot tame. They could all shut down tomorrow and there is jack that anyone could do about it as it is their prerogative. People also accept situations if they are happy withit, those are not will naturally try to find ways to attempt to bring the situation into one they would consider more favourable...e.g. lobby groups

And how is it that intelligent people are blind to the contradiction of accepting the SEs as quasi authorities of the web, while on the other hand insisting on their status as private business, accountable to noone?

Are they SE's really quasi authorities I just use their service like many others, they dont govern anything apart from their own databases which is their right.
The search engines have enabled many of us to cost effectively market and sell products goods services etc all around the world. Why would you not accept facilitators of this? Private businesses all around the world are acountable only to their respective customers, governments and employees if those parties are happy then accepting SEs as a quasi authority is by the by.

And why finally do intelligent people not see the fact that SEs and SEOs are in the exact same business: selling visibility to advertizers?

Probably because the whole process that links content, SEs and SEOs is based on all participants living off each others backs, but no one would want to admit that.

It's neither the SEs, nor the SEOs, who should take the drivers seat in the websearch market. It's the publishers. They bring the content, they bring the money.

Very much agree.


 3:02 pm on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

The search engines are a law unto themselves
Well that about does it for me with this topic. I just can't take it anymore. How does anyone carry on a real discussion here?

There may be some place left on earth that has no government in place that ACT like a law un to themselves.

If this industry is ever going to actually be considered an industry, then accountablity is going to have prevail. Accountability for me AND FOR YOU. Us and them. Not one or the other.

Finally, Heini, if you ever lose your mind and decide to try to establish a real internet marketing specialist association that defines fair practices for ALL parties involved, you got my vote for president! You, (far too many times for a so-called marketing forum), are the lone voice of reason. It often seems to me that your fair, reasonable and intellectually superior observations fall on deaf ears, but no you this, you do have an impact and there are those who do listen.

Were it not for you and a very small number of others here, who seem to actually have a grasp on reality and an understanding of what marketing is, I would not even bother. I see you and a few like-minded individuals as the best hope for the public acceptance of the internet marketing industry as a legitimate service someday.

Then I read all the:

why not start your own SE
They don't owe us anything
They are a law unto themselves
>my favortie< any one who builds a business off of someone else's business is stupid, (just what do you think Search engines have done?)
and all the other uniformed, opinionated, has nothing to do with the point, posts and feel very worried that I and everyone else in this business, is doomed to be a spammer or an ethical SEO just waiting for the next ethical SEO to accuse of being a spammer and the debate rages.


 3:24 pm on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

I slept on this one and woke up with a thought about it. Is it me, or will the organization that's the most hurt by this action be SEMPO?

Marketing Guy

 3:38 pm on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Stop spamming the forum shurlee! (bwuhaha joke! ;))

I think the statement, "search engines are a law unto themselves" is perhaps taken a bit too literally. I took it as being specific to their industry and not that they should be allowed to work the Internet as they please.

And I agree that accountability should be across the board, and not restricted to certain parties.

But the problem lies in (and this is the biggee) who will we (all those involved in this industry) be accountable to?

Governments? Which one? They certainly arent all going to agree with each other. Users? Frankly, what do they know about it? The lobby group? Lol!

The unfortunate truth is that, if nothing else, this forum and some of the discussions that take place, show that there are too many factors that conflict with each other for there to be accountablity.

One man's spam is anothers legitimate business tatic (a point eloquently made earlier in this thread, and in countless other discussions here).

One companies monthly advertising budget is anothers annual income.

You can't be all things to all people.

And so forth with the cliches....

The current situation with Google's dominance of the SE market isn't going to be resolved because it works well (read: it is profitable) for a damn lot of people.

That's why they are a law unto themselves *in this industry*.

C'mon - a fairly large percentage of our profession requires that we bend to the whims of Google just to succeed!

All said and done - the only entities we are ever likely to be accountable are Governments. Would that be a good thing? Dunno.

Personally (and this is only my unintelligent and uninformed view!), I do think some tough competition for Google would be good for us all. Tighten the virtual leash so to speak.

So, again personally, I think the best suggestion so far has been, "so why not set up your own search engine?".

If you cant beat them.....

Scott :)


 3:41 pm on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

If there was no commercial interest in the web then opinion based search (i.e. Page Rank) is (and was) fine.

Now that commercial interest in the web is huge, an opinion based search that is created primarily through automated techniques (Page Rank) is not fine, for 2 reasons.

Humans will always outwit computers. This means that a search engine's opinion can always be manipulated no matter how many PhD's they have working on it.

If the opinion based result set is fixed [for the same query], then what results is a massively unbalanced distribution of wealth, resulting in the rich-getting-richer in logarithmic proportions (resulting in the incentive to manipulate).

In my industry, there are thousands of companies providing a whole range of different products and services all related to keyword "X" - and keyword "X" is nothing specific as far as a product or service is concerned.

However, opinion based search engines with fixed results (like Google) choose to send traffic to just 4 or 5 out of those many thousands of companies. And sadly, as a result of manipulation, they are the 4 or 5 that you are least likely to wish to come across.

The searcher has no idea what they are missing.

All that is needed to restore balance is paid listings taking prominence over opinion based listings.

Can anybody constructively argue FOR opinion based, non-paid for listings given the commercial interest that is at stake?

(adds: "I'm already Page 1 SERP therefore it's fine by me!" is not an answer!)

[edited by: dmorison at 3:49 pm (utc) on June 27, 2003]


 3:42 pm on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Already done Scott :)

I dont think the lobby group is really going to get far with this. About 90% of the people I have spoke to laughed the idea off and the other 10% said there where good points. I agree there are but there is a time and a place for something like this and the way it is being done is stupid and is not going to work.


 3:44 pm on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Finally, Heini.. You are the lone voice of reason.

Fathom bows to thy god almighty... and obscurely ever so quitely disappears from the thread.


 3:52 pm on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

For public relations reasons, perhaps it is in the search engines' interest to hire ombudsmen-- independent officers which hear and investigate complaints. Some large corporations have them, to protect whistleblowers, and many newspapers and other media use them to prevent the business office from having too much influence over the editorial office.

Otherwise, I am generally unsympathetic. For one, they act as if the only reason anyone ever browses the web is to spend money. Scarcely the case. If search engines were deliberately crippling the relevancy of their results in pursuit of gain, public interest would shift to other sources-- AltaVista used to reign as the household name in searching the web, but when it became filled with spam and outdated listings, we turned to the obscure startup with the silly name which promised better results.

As for spiraling costs, as noted, that is the nature of the business. Anyone can buy a classified ad in the newspaper, but someone with deeper pockets will be able to buy half a page.

In fact, I could compare a search engine to a newspaper. Both are businesses, but both depend on public confidence in the impartiality and relevance of their product (i.e. search results and news). Suppose the Smalltown News published at least one story a week about Smalltown Mall. Since there isn't much news going on in Smalltown, it seems reasonable.

Now, suppose over in the next town over, the Tinyville Free Press goes bankrupt and so the Smalltown News expands its coverage (the Smalltown News-Free Press :) ). Each edition is still 24 pages (or 10 SERP listings), but now they have twice as much ground to cover for news (or twice as many sites to index and rank). Now they only find enough space for a story about Smalltown Mall a month. Smalltown Mall suffers a loss of visibility and sales. Do they have a right to sue the paper because they'd become accustomed to getting the free publicity which is now lost? Because the rates have gone up because the Tinyville Free Press used to have Bigcity Corp. as a major advertiser? Because in the Smalltown-Tinyville metro area, the News-Free Press has a virtual monopoly on local news?

Now, if mysteriously there seemed to suddenly be a lot of positive storeis about Bigcity Corp., people might start to notice. And if it were revealed that they ran a negative story about Smallville Mall because Podunk Outlet Center began a huge ad campaign, people would lose faith in the whole enterprise. Maybe they'd switch to the Smalltown Business Daily, or the Tinyville Chinese-American, or maybe they'd simply stop reading the paper and watch TV instead.

The paper in Smallville has an incentive to stay balanced. But they don't owe the Smallville Mall one red cent.


 6:54 pm on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Paddy, if there is one thing that I really hate, it is a website that insists the www sub-domain is used. I read the article at newmediazero, cut and paste the domain name into the address bar (as they didn't supply a link) and pow! Page Not Found!

A few other points:

1. I would love to hear your strategy related to the copyright issue. Does it not require the owner/SEO to admit they were not aware of robots.txt? Even if they took this route what actual loss has been suffered?

2. I would like to know what "boycotting search engines that do not offer a fair deal to small / SME businesses" actually means. The members won't personally use them? They will not allow their sites to be indexed by them? Who is the arbiter of "fair deal"?

3. It strikes me the only claim for loss easily justified is by the owner who is not aware of robots.txt and has had their site crawled against their "For Personal Use Only TOS". These folks could argue that SE's have caused them to incur unnecessary data transfer/hosting costs.

I guess spider data transfer costs could be likened to people sending unsolicited faxes, a cost is incurred without the direct permission of the recipient. In the US this act is illegal, but Federal court has already ruled that this can't be the basis of a class action suit.

You might however be able to lobby for a law that did require SE's to actively request the permission of site owners before they could crawl......that might make life interesting! ;)


 8:51 pm on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

So where's the incredible power the SEs have (and the fat slice of money) coming from? The answer:
The SEs took the content of the publishers and built an advertizing business on it.

So how is it that intelligent people seem to voluntarily bow to and salute this power without ever questioning it, automatically rebuffing even the slightest criticism of the SEs?

The READER'S GUIDE TO PERIODICAL LITERATURE, THE MAGAZINE INDEX, and any number of other indexes have based subscription businesses on "the content of the publishers." TV GUIDE publishes television program listings and summaries, and PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY runs thousands of book descriptions, mini-reviews, and listings every year. So what? Such indexing is "fair use" under the copyright laws--regardless of whether the company that does the indexing is supported by subscriptions, newsstand sales, advertising, or a combination of all three.


 9:55 pm on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi folks

I have been away for the day but you have been busy!

Why do some people seem to think that we are having any kind of difficulty in the search engines and that this is motivating the creation of the Lobby Group. Just for the record, we currently achieve about 500,000 first page positions in the search engines for our clients under the search terms we are promoting (which is about 300,000 more than we guarantee). Our business is growing at the rate of about 20% per month and I am very very happy with it. The top-pile web site plays no part whatsoever in our strategy. If you want me to explain that further... forget it!

Also, just for the record to a few of you, we did start our own search engine - gobango - and it is absolutely 100% a reaction to the increaing power of the search engines and a reaction to the increasing disenfranchisement of small and medium sized businesses. Gobango is growing at about 10% per week and we are very happy with how it is doing and what it represents.

Finally, why is everyone concentrating on copyright action?

That is not the point! As I said in my earlier post, the point is not what is going on today, it is what may go on tomorrow or next week or next month, or next year. That is the purpose of the lobby group, to protect the interests of small and medium sized businesses. Listen guys, the Search Engine Lobby Group may have absolutely NOTHING to say for the next year. It may have nothing to say for the next TEN YEARS. And if that happens, well that is fantastic beacuse all of our fears were ill-founded.

But, if any search engine penalises a site and then calls the company and attempts to sell them top ranking in the search engines we will have something to say about that.

If any search engine refuses to answer a member's enquiries as to why they have disappeared from the search engine, we will have something to say about that.

If any search engine .... you get my drift!

The purpose of this thread is very simple - you agree with the idea of a lobby group or you don't. If you don't like who we are and what we represent, and you still agree with the idea of a lobby group, then start up your own one. Great, I will be the first to congratulate you for making a stand and not spending the whole time attacking your fellow professionals and living in fear of what the big bad search engines might do or say. In fact, I will actively and publicly support you and I promise you will see no vitriol from me... EVER.



 12:00 am on Jun 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

>Finally, why is everyone concentrating on copyright action?

I think that has something to do with: "possibly even taking a class action against the search engines for copyright theft (we are serious!)"

WGT your personal background and style of promotion your company deploys, I think each to his own in this field, and I for one certainly don't hold that against you. But, you must expect others will. The tactics are a little aggressive and by there very nature you will have hurt a few folks monetarily or morally in the corridors of WW.

For a lobby group to be effective it has to have some teeth. Maybe we are all trying to see where the teeth might be?

There are already SE lobby groups of sorts, but they have no teeth. Some are just anti search engines for mainly the same reasons as you advocate, some are just anti-Google for a whole set of other reasons, but none have any real influence over anything.

Possibly this very site and Danny's have more influence over some SE's than anything else that is out there today!

If your group is going to be any different I think we need to understand how it can bite and be listened to. At the moment we are trying to understand that, but we only see it as another group of people with a gripe that has no power to really influence.

Successful lobby groups need some ammo, the NRA persuades with political votes, the tobacco lobby talks with $$$, the auto lobby talks with jobs, what will your lobby group use for ammo? It appears from the site you are suggesting copyright law and boycotting, but people seem to be having a hard time coming to terms with those. We don't see any other ammo.

I believe many would agree with a lobby group if they could see how it would get real attention. I don't think many see SE's as the big bad wolves, just a bit of a pain at times when they seem to make mistakes. The rational understand all businesses make mistakes and after a little venting (especially in Google News) calm down again. Those few that get long term beefs seem to start SE-Watch.org or something similar.

Most of us are not fighting with each other, of course in a SERPs sense there is competition, but that is only healthy. Anyone posting on this board is in some way usually assisting someone else, even if they are expressing a different view point. Debating towards a consensus opinion or difference of one, and fighting are two very different things.

So, go for it Paddy, please show us the real meat, the real teeth and then we may understand why we need/want to be part of it.


 12:21 am on Jun 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

Excellent point percentages. I would have rational discussion like that all day!

I did not start this thread and the aim of the Search Engine Lobby Group is not to win the support of those in the SEO business, but rather to win the support of businesses on the web. I would certainly welcome the support of anyone in the SEO industry and what is more I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who would like to participate in the running of the Lobby Group (send me a mail). I am not on a personal crusade here, I just want to get a momentum going that is in all of our interests and that is in the interests of small and medium sized businesses.

Yes, maybe we will launch a co-operative search engine, maybe we will tell all our friends and colleagues to support it, maybe we will start a revolution that will transform the web. Maybe we will boycott certain search engines (and 100,000 people telling 10 people each makes a lot of people). Maybe even we will take a class action (highly unlikely but possible).

The point is that I am not the CEO of the Search Engine Lobby Group. I founded it, and I will listen to members' views and act on them. We will create a revolution and see where it takes us. Provided we are clear on what our goals are, it will undoubtedly take us somewhere good.

By the way, you are absolutely 100% right about these newsgroups and Danny Sullivan's site. I am certain that the search engines take notice of what is said here and it can influence their decision making. In exactly the same way I believe that the Search Engine Lobby Group that LOBBIES, not that is activist, can influence the search engines. They are not the bad guys, not by a long way. But if they ever become the bad guys, we'll be there to help make them good again!


 12:24 am on Jun 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

I want to clear up a point that was made about Microsoft earlier in this thread.

Leaving aside the question of what constitutes a "true" monopoly, the reason Microsoft is so pernicious, and has gotten into legal trouble, was the way they leveraged their position as IBM's OS provider to muscle all their competitors out. Instead of competing on merit (as the search engines, when they're not simply buying each other: "tu, felix Austria, noces", do) MS made OEMS (original equipment manufacturers) sign a secret agreement to ONLY bundle MSDOS with their machines, or not carry MSDOS at all. Goodbye DR DOS and any other, possibly superior program that might have challenged their sales.

Once Microsoft acheived a (horizontal) monopoly in PC OS's, it used its position to vertically move into other areas of the software industry. They torpedoed Word Perfect by undercutting them on price and using FUD marketing strategies. Legal, if a bad outcome for users. (But users/buyers all along made collectively bad choices, so I blame Joe Consumer as much, if not more, than MS.)

With Netscape, they again used their monopoly status (which was even more significant by then because Apple was a very marginal player at that time) against OEMs to force them to bundle IE and NOT Netscape with new computers, or lose the right to sell Windows machines. This got them in trouble with the law.

The point I'm trying to make is that OEMs, caught in the stranglehold of the operating system monopoly, cannot simply "switch." Many of them would probably like to. Dell, for a few milliseconds, tried selling a Linux box but MS made them cease and desist. Effectively, all OEM-bought machines contain a Microsoft tax (of a not unconsiderable sum) in their purchase price. (This is probably why Rami-on-the-Corner's cottage industry econo-boxes are selling so well these days -- if you need a Linux box for something (raw computing power, server, graduation present, toy) there's no sense in paying lots of extra money for it if you don't have to.)

Currently, an internet user can switch search engines with complete facility*. Nor does any one group have a monopoly (in either users or SERP-delivery), which, if they did, would raise the spectre of information control (such as we see on the no-longer-truly public airwaves in the US).

*-Unless they're on AOL. AOL: worse than smack.

If there does come a day when a monopoly controls searching behavior, I believe that monopoly will be Microsoft. They are working hard to embed their search engine into the desktop. You could just say they're emulating Apple's Sherlock concept, and as usual trailing by quite a bit, in this case 5-6 years (actually, who knows how long before "Longhorn" actually hits the market? could be more). If you're frustrated with Google, just wait till you meet Big Brother Microsoft. Sure, if you're a spammer you might be happy, because MS . . . well, they don't exactly have a reputation for being the best software engineers, or for looking at the big picture, or caring about usability. But just wait until your site falls out of MSN and millions of nooless cloobies can no longer find you . . . never mind if Microsoft puts in little easter eggs like the browser, I mean embedded br-, um, that is, Word hangs <g> when you try to go to one of Google's IP's, not to mention AV's . . . or Yahoo? Microsoft has chewed up and destroyed most of the American software industry and they show no signs of stopping.

Paddy, keep your eyes on the prize . . . The US gov does not consider Google to be a monopoly (and they aren't). MS is an 800lb gorilla with a history of destroying small businesses. They are the ones to look out for.

Also, I think the copyright issue is specious, as the nature of electronic communications means that your site MUST be copied, bit for bit to be viewed by end users, and it MUST be copied to be searchable through search engines. Copyright protects you against other webmasters stealing your content (or people who would republish your content in any other medium). It does not protect you against the very technology (file transfer and caching) that makes web publishing possible.


 12:26 am on Jun 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

We will create a revolution and see where it takes us.

Wow, that really sounds like a plan.


 12:34 am on Jun 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

Berli, I think you are wrong on the copyright issue. There is a world of a difference between downloading a web page to view it and an organisation taking a copy of your web site and publishing it for commercial purposes, or selling that data on to other companies. The latter is breach of copyright and in many cases is also breach of terms of use of the web site (personal use only). If you doubt me, just look at the companies that have successfully sued news sites for deep crawling their content and publishing it elsewhere.

I would be very very surprised if there is a major search engine out there that is NOT having serious legal counsel about the issue of deep crawling and breach of copyright.

This is just my reply to your comment, let's not start a whole more bunch of messages about how the Search Engine Lobby Group is going to take a class action against the search engines!


 5:47 am on Jun 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

Paddy, I'm very pleased to see the tone of topic is back on a more rational level.

My thoughts, for right or wrong, at this time are:

1. The figure head needs to be someone who is seen as an independent and authorative figure in the market place. Danny Sullivan would be my first choice.

2. If Danny wanted to head up this Lobby Group would you be willing to step down? I know Danny reads this stuff, I hope he responds, and if he doesn't see the merit then we can all forget about it IMHO!

3. You haven't yet responded to question of how this group is really going to have an influence. You seem to have agreed that this site and Danny's have some impact, but how is another one going to improve the situation?

No knocks at WW or searchenginewatch.com here, they both do great jobs in the environment they have to operate in. But I would like to know where the additional leverage is going to be placed with yours?


 6:28 am on Jun 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

I slept on this one and woke up with a thought about it. Is it me, or will the organization that's the most hurt by this action be SEMPO?

Well, I slept on it too, and I'm pretty certain the real organization that will be the most hurt by this action will be, ummm, Google.


 6:34 am on Jun 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

With MS there were several separate issues. The first thing that had to be done was declare them a monopoly. That has nothing to do with if they are a bad or good company. All it means is they control enough of a market share to be dangerous. Not that they were dangerous but that they could be dangerous. Of course in MS situation they were bad and dangerous. The only point I was making was that Google is a monopoly right now nobody can deny that. They may need to hold the monopoly for a while for it to be official but right now they are. Just because it takes a little longer to switch OS's does not mean that it can not be done. The point is Google has a lot of unchecked power. Maybe they are not doing anything wrong maybe they are good people but as Paddy said what happens when they do decide to. Maybe somebody in Google management could lose a lot of money in the stock market or Vegas or a bad divorce or his boat needs no mink chairs and then they think "you know nobody would know if I knocked a company out of the SERP's just to get them to pay for more ad words". The argument is not that we know that they are doing something and we are mad. The point is they could and nobody would ever know for sure.


 7:00 am on Jun 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

ogletree, I read your post 10 times......sorry but I must be stupid, I have no clue about what the heck it means.

For us simpletons please keep posts to something we can all understand.

>Well, I slept on it too, and I'm pretty certain the real organization that will be the most hurt by this action will be, ummm, Google.

BT I think you might be right, but your post is ambiguous. How will Google be hurt? By the wheel spinning exercise or by the backlash of users, or by the loss of loyalty of webmasters or by the boycotting of Google due to lack of real cooperation?

I'm frustrated by this thread.....It has so much potential, but no one is willing to step up to the plate with a cohesive strategy that can convince the masses.


 5:03 pm on Jun 28, 2003 (gmt 0)


Google is not a monopoly. They have the largest market share of any search engine, but they are far, far from having a monopoly in the industry. When the Yahoo contract comes to an end, they will lose significant market share. Other forces could cause them to lose even more ground (which is no doubt why they are making big changes to their algo now before their competitors move -- and they are moving).

Microsoft has a monopoly on the IBM-compatible desktop. Go to a store and try to buy an IBM-compatible without MS pre-installed. You can't.

Think back to your history books . . . Rockefeller was despised as a monopolist because he owned railroads, and once farmers could only transport their grain to market using his railroad, he jacked up the rates. (Monopolies charge as much as the market can bear; competitive industries tend to lower rates down to the cost of doing business.) He was agressively pursuing a monopoly in petroleum (which the government eventually broke up). Monopoly means that a particular good or service can ONLY be purchased from one source. Examples:

Ma Bell (long-distance phone service under AT&T long ago)
New drugs under patent (pharmaceuticals corps are VERY profitable)
Copyrighted music recordings (legally, anyway!)
Municipal water
Most physical utilities (cable, electricity, local phone service--some areas now have some choices, but this is rare)

An effective monopoly is where alternatives are available, but various factors keep these alternatives out of circulation. Thus the monopolist maintains such a high market share (say 85-100%) that they can charge whatever they please and control the market.

MS has a near monopoly in PC's, particularly in the business market, and an effective monopoly in word processing and spreadsheets. (But in some industries WordPerfect and Lotus are still used.) For example, if you have done any work for the US government, you will find that they want everything in Microsoft file formats because they, as a block, are on Microsoft software. (The government is a hotbed for the spreading of Outlook viruses. Someone ought to look into the degree to which government alone was responsible for the proliferation of "I love you" "Anna Kournikova pics" and other Outlook viruses.)

MS's control over the browser market is an interesting mixed case. On the one hand, so many users are browsing with IE that web developers are forced to develop with IE in mind, and less savvy webmasters are often gulled into creating sites that ONLY IE can use (at least use without errors). On the other hand, MS does not sell IE; it gives it away for free. Opera sells its browser for $39 US and does well enough to stay in business. If MS were to try to sell a web browser for money (particularly in the past) they would have lost their monopolistic market share (and they have nefarious plans for that, so it's worth it to them to lose money on it for now).


 9:55 am on Jun 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Personally I think any search engine that was to inform sites of why they were removed from their index will be so full of spam that they will lose far more users than any boycott could cost them.

I just can't see this working. No teeth (or not enough teeth anyway)


 10:10 am on Jun 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Actually thinking about it, Google does have a monoply. It just is not with the users. There is minimal cost to the users to switch engines (unlike the time required to learn just the basics of a new OS for most users, as anyone here who does tech support for friends and family will know)

Google's monoply is over the participation of web sites in its index. Yes, along with other SEs, Google benefits from indexing the content of others. However on the whole this is symbiotic, with the sites receiving traffic in return (or at least the potential of trafic - it may be a dire site :> ). Where the monopoly comes in is; who can afford not to allow Google to spider their site when they might be responsible for 85% of traffic. On the whole, the sites that can afford to block Google won't harm Google and the sites that could harm Google would be greatly harmed by blocking Google. While Google holds such a large share of searches the only way to manage an effective refusal of cooperation is an organised boycott.

I still think that this group won't have sufficient power for that though.

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