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Search Tangles

 3:36 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well worth a read from PcWorld:


One thing is clear, however: Search results are being manipulated to a greater degree than ever. With Google about to become a publicly traded company, and with Microsoft preparing its own search service, search is a big business that is about to get even bigger. And the pursuit of profits--by search companies and by Web sites that depend on search engines to drive revenue-producing traffic--is affecting how your search queries are answered.



 3:43 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Interesting read. The issue is this needs to be in the NY Times or even better - USA Today. Having this in PC World is just showing the already technical crowd what is happening (and many already know this)

Ask Jeeves is stopping their Paid Inclusion program - I didn't notice the article mentioning this for Teoma.

My mom had no idea the little boxes on the left were ads and if you clicked them someone paid google to take you to their site (until I told her) --- most consumers are still at this level


 4:01 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

>most consumers are still at this level

Agreed, which is good luck for anyone running AdSense on their site if you ask me. The advertisers are in such bad reputation, I know a couple of (web illiterate) folks who would do anything to prevent from clicking there.

Hope you didn't forget to tell your mom NOT to help your AdSense revenue by clicking there like crazy ;-)


 6:15 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

You’d be surprised how many “regular Joe’s” realize that search engine results are being manipulated. In fact I’ve had a few people say that the mere mention of the word Internet can kill your credibility instantly. I know of teachers who have asked high school and middle school students how credible they though search results were on the Internet and the students burst out into uncontrollable laughter. Many students were also not fooled by what are termed as Google “authority sites.” They felt the commerce sites were more up front where information sites had ulterior motives.

To sum it up its only going to take a few major exposes to send the Internet into a second bust. Print and television media are anxious to get back shares of advertising money they’ve lost. They feel they have to play by a totally different set of rules. I personally think the scrutiny is going to grow with Yahoo purchasing so many search engines and the emergence of the new MSN.


 6:18 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Man were in for another Florida.


 6:55 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

There will always be spam sites, what ever Google does and to be real here the results are much better then for 3-4 years ago.

You cant stop spam sites without killing good content on personal sites or small business which have no clue of seo.

I always find what Im looking for, if it is listed, on Google or yahoo, people will also learn new methods to search like "blabla" -blblaa - blaa, thats the best way to get good results and people will learn to make those searches.



 8:08 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

More trashy journalism.

Use Google to search for "Ionic Breeze," and you'll likely find that nine of the first ten listings point to sites that sell The Sharper Image's popular air purifier. In early June, the only link that wasn't for an e-commerce site was the last one, which pointed to an Epinions.com review.

So what do they think should be showing up for a search on a unqiue product brand name? Duh.

If that's the best example they could find to demonstrate "Search results are being manipulated to a greater degree than ever" then there is no problem.


 8:40 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>>>So what do they think should be showing up for a search on a unqiue product brand name? Duh.

That was my reaction to that paragraph. I thought that it just proves that the algo's were working properly.

It is hard to read about the search industry when the people doing the reporting almost always are behind the curve.


 9:06 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>Man were in for another Florida.

Yep, you can almost feel it in your bones when they've gone so quiet for so long.


 9:39 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Many students were also not fooled by what are termed as Google “authority sites.”

outland88, how did the students know what Google thinks is authoritative?


 10:03 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

It has been awfully quiet, hasn't it?


 11:41 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

"the people doing the reporting almost always are behind the curve."

Yep, techie mags like this should have an SEO that also doubles as a writer on staff. That would at least help some of these articles from making idiotic statements at times. They found one search that rightfully returned commercial listings. Yet, I did a search earlier today for "the nine planets" and got nothing but informational sites. Commercial terms return commercial sites LOL.

And yes, it has been way too quiet. Maybe they decided to avoid the bad publicity and make the next florida level update a bit before the holiday shopping season.


 2:04 am on Jul 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

My reaction to this article was that it incorrectly lumps together various distinct techniques, leaving only FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) in the hearts and minds of its readers.

Paid Inclusion is worthy of this response: it is stealthy in that it is invisible to even determined lookers. Anyone who believes that PI doesn't affect relevancy is a simpleton. There's nothing wrong with PI, except that it masquerades as "pure" search. No good can come of this deception in the end, for it leaves everyone with a bad taste in their mouths. It cannot last.

PPC is a whole different animal. Overture had it right in 1998: tell people that their results have been paid for, and everyone will respond just fine. It has worked in TV for years, why not here on the net? While it seems recently some have found a way to abuse organic results in Google (getting sites listed in order to promote Ad Words), I expect this will be quashed sooner than later.

So, should all commercial oriented sites be banned from the "pure" SERPs? Of course not: the Internet is, at its heart, a conduit for commerce. I might have heard a rousing dissention pre-bubble, but now everyone still left in this world should know what side their bread is buttered on!

Sure, it's a great place to find facts (most of which are sponsored by ads) or entertainment (which is fee or advertising based), and for the occasional public service announcement. But for what's left, someone is selling something.

And this is where the PC World article fell into the righteous populism that's so common in trade journalism. Why? Because it sells something else: magazine ads! OK, well it's more than just that, but this kind of journalism falls squarely into the "media hype" classification. People want to read about controversy: if only the media could present the meat of the controversy in a lucid way!

As several have rightly pointed out the query "ionic breeze" was silly -- if one in one hundred people are thinking about some cosmic event rather than the air purifier, perhaps they would have the fortitude to look through 100 results. The rest of us are looking for the product. (And just to point out the other silly bit in this article, the "good" epinions result for his query is owned by a site called shopping.com -- hmm, any ecommerce nucances here?).

And while the actual news here is that MSN and AJ are both dropping paid inclusion, this only rates a second page mention. Aaargh!

But the dice are cast, by this and many other similarly muddled articles. People don't trust their computers (never have) and now are being conditioned not to trust search results. Shame on Ask Jeeves for being amongst the first to use paid inclusion, and for Inktomi/Yahoo, then MSN for making it significant enough to be noteworthy. They got caught by the journalists, but we all pay.

So the SE's continue to face the dilemma: should they give people what they are (really) looking for, or skew results in order to present the face of impartiality by displaying an array of possible types of response (iconic breeze: the product, the cosmic event, or perhaps the song by some obscure New Age band :-). Of course being able to do this suggests that SEs are able to distinguish between these types, but the good ones probably can. Diversity or accuracy, that is the question.

As several people have pointed out, Google and others almost are forced to respond (so, another Florida is due, for sure). In a time when Google's IPO has brought about so much awareness of the critical role of search engines, despite their incredibly purist and populist ethos, which some might call naive, Google's motives are being questioned right along with the rest, MSN gets no credit for doing the "right thing" and Yahoo is just another mention.

The result is that users and e-commerce sites will both suffer.


 11:04 am on Jul 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well the jig is up ..these guys are so on the ball ..next they're gonna be telling us that Mafeking is "lifted"..

whats with all this "gee its sure been quite" ...

One would begin to suspect you all need your "update" like a "fix"

Dux n runz ;)


 1:12 pm on Jul 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>>Mafeking is "lifted"..

There is a reference most north americans would never understand. Except for us history majors.


 1:47 pm on Jul 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

No Scouts about?


 5:05 pm on Jul 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

A well-educated (and common-sense smart) friend of mine said he always thought that the people at the top of Google had paid Google to get there.

He was surprised when I told him that Google doesn't get paid for their top listings.

Just an example of the cynicism many people have.


 5:06 pm on Jul 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>>Mafeking is "lifted"..
>>There is a reference most north americans would >>never understand. Except for us history majors.

I tried googling Mafeking and got an informative site on the subject at the top of the serps.
Google still does work after all.. :-)


 6:23 am on Jul 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

It's like the news reporter who was surprised when I told him that "I paid $.05 for you to find my site." Adwords and organic serps' were indistinguishable to a reporter who uses Google regularly to research stories. Thanks again to the speaker at pubcon orlando who pointed out that reporters use Google in the first place! :)

I know I'm not the only Eagle Scout here! Who'd expect a Mafeking reference on WebmasterWorld? :)


 8:12 pm on Jul 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

manipulating SERP's looks like great business with high profit and low risk if you play easy & safe...

I think that if commercial SE are fair of not people will never thrust them.

we can just hope that next most popular SE is going to be "open type"... something like dmoz.org for directory

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