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Google Toolbar AutoUpdate Includes AutoLink Feature On
Are Webmasters Losing Control of their Websites?
martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 7:26 am on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google forced an update to their toolbar that activated an autolink button feature by default. What this means is that this button, when activated, will allow Google to place links on your web page to Amazon, among other places.

The autolink feature has been controversial [theregister.co.uk] since it came out. In fact, there's a javascript for killing google autolink, which indicates how much webmasters are against the autolink feature.

It's surprising to see Google pushing this onto toolbar users like myself who don't want it. Unlike non-webmaster users, they may not know how to disable it.

Does Google's use of your website exceed what you feel comfortable with?

 

lasko

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 3:29 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have to agree with Marketing Guy here.

Like I said you have to click the button to use and you can un-install, its a lot of work for the average user to use it, just so you can loose a few cents of affiliate commission.

Its not re-writing web pages or making links without human action.

Also this feature is not as bad as it seems, what I don't like is the Auto Update of the toolbar.

Don't like it, Don't use it.

I think most of us are mainly concerned about Google's potential muscle power here and not the actual Auto Link function.

Clark

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 3:33 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Wait, I'm confused. Does this turn on automatically for some users or you have to ask for it?

If it's turned on automatically then it's spyware. Either way, I'm not thrilled at all about the spirit of this. At the least the webmaster should be able to put a meta tag in the headers to shut it off sitewide without penalization.

I got to imagine the many techs that are working there are rather displeased with this. I mean, can anyone see a stand up guy like googleguy liking this move? Having to defend (or ignore) it in the public forums? No way!

So in the time honored tradition of the Internet to turn a big bad corporation's mottos against them, Google, "Do no evil". ;)

div01

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 3:36 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've still got version 2.x

sudden

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 3:39 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

English is not my first language, so maybe Iīm getting things wrong, Marketing_Guy. Are you saying, just because Google only steals a little, itīs ok?

lasko

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 3:52 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Lets get this straight

Its automatically turned on by default

It dosn't make the links unless you click the button.

So you can continue to browse as normal without your pages looking any different. (for the time being anyway, lol)

DoppyNL

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 3:52 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

It's funny how Marketing Guy's message was absorbed and interpreted by my brains :)

a) How many of those people are making a sizable amount from Amazon?
So, since the amount is low, it isn't a problem?

b) How many of the visitors to those sites use Google Toolbar?
I bet google would want the entire world to use it.

c) How mant of those will activate the feature and use it?
see above, google wants as many users as they can get (obviously)

d) What percentage of them would have purchased and earned you commission?
translation: the amount of money you lose isn't that much, so stop crying. Fact is, it is money! doesn't matter how much!

a large percentage of Toolbar users are savvy enough to recognise affiliate links
Not only savvy users install the toolbar; plenty of stupid (no offence) also have it installed.

The only remaining issue is that click through rates may drive traffic away from your site that would have otherwise earned you income. But can anyone seriously suggest that the % of people who will leave and would have otherwise earned you money is going to be so significant?
HELLO?!?! ANY user leaving my site and buying the product somewhere else is one to much! I don't care if it is only 1% it's still money!

so then just unoptimise for autolink trigger words
so I have to make my site less usable and findable for users to prevent autolink to work?!?

I short, the message to me indicates that Google knows that it is pulling away visitors from site's and redirecting them to their affiliates. Thus making money for Google and reducing the income of those site's...
All in a nice colored wrapping ofcourse!

note: was typing this at the same time as `sudden`, same principle :P
and YES he does say that.

kapow

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 4:26 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google in effect is inserting their adverts on your website

I am appalled that Google would do this :o

There is an easy answer. If you don't like the features, remove the toolbar...

Its about our customers computers, not our computers (our = webmasters).

how do we disable this on our content?

My site is my site. If I had the power I would sue anyone that hyjacked my content for their gain, and mislead my customers about my links, however I run a small business so I can't do much can I. If Google provided a tag webmasters could use, it would be a completely different matter. How do we disable this?

Marketing Guy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 4:42 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

English is not my first language, so maybe Iīm getting things wrong, Marketing_Guy. Are you saying, just because Google only steals a little, itīs ok?

Google isn't stealing anything.

HELLO?!?! ANY user leaving my site and buying the product somewhere else is one to much! I don't care if it is only 1% it's still money!...

...and YES he does say that.

See above. Google can't steal money from you if you haven't earned it already.

Seriously guys - welcome to the business world. A customer leaving your store because someone had a more convincing sell is nothing new.

Google aren't doing anything wrong. They aren't forcing anything on anyone. They most certainly are NOT stealing from anyone. If it offends you so much then you have several options to prevent it happening. You ban email harvesters - just throw in some JS to bust the toolbar.

The only convincing arguement ive seen here is that it is a very close step for them to impose much more commerical autolinks and I agree that would be a terrible situation.

But we're not there yet, and there is no indication we will be.

Google in effect is inserting their adverts on your website

You are in effect inserting your adverts on Google's site.

You can block them, they can block you.

so I have to make my site less usable and findable for users to prevent autolink to work?!?

Use the JS code to block it then. In fact if you are so morally outraged, then block Googlebot. There is no reason you can't block this feature without compromising the integrity of your site. Hell, Google has had to invest millions in protecting the integrity of their site from the SEO community.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying just because Google gives us a lot and makes us a lot of money they should be allowed to do as they please.

The bottom line is that this is an optional feature used by a small percentage of users, who have to click a button to activate the feature even when it's activated by default.

I mean such a fuss over nothing - I'll bet 90% of you never used the feature before today! ;)

walkman



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 4:43 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi Google Marketing Guy ;)
even $5 is too much, but it's mostly the principle: it's MY site, leave it alone, or provide a way for to disable the feature.

oneguy

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 4:50 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Wait, I'm confused. Does this turn on automatically for some users or you have to ask for it?

Ask again in a few months after everyone accepts the first few steps.

You guys think they'll turn urls on, turn adwords loose on it, or make the feature automatically turn on first?

I can't imagine this is it.

DoppyNL

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 5:04 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

A customer leaving your store because someone had a more convincing sell is nothing new.
THAT is indeed bussiness.
However: a customer leaving storeZ because he found the text on the price-tag: `buy this at storyX for Y` is an entirely different matter.
NO store would allow a competitor to place ads in his store!

just throw in some JS to bust the toolbar.
the JS is a FIX, NOT an opt-out/opt-in!
the JS can't be compared with a robots.txt! It looks for links made by google in my page and then removes them again.... I would call that repairing my page after someone broke it.

Google in effect is inserting their adverts on your website

You are in effect inserting your adverts on Google's site.

not 100% correct:
I'm in the serps because I allow Google to put me there (I can use a robots.txt).
Google puts his links on my page; but I didn't ask you to! (or can't forbid you).

small percentage of users
Just because it is a small amount of users doesn't make it ok.
You know: you effectivly say here: yes, we steal your visitors; but only a small amount; so lets don't talk about it

graywolf

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 5:06 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

If all of you who were outraged about autolink sent a calm, lucid, well written letter to your adwords representitve expressing your dissatisfaction, and how you are considering stopping your advertising with Google over the matter, you might get more attention and results than ranting about it here.

ClickMagazine

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 5:08 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

You need to try it. A lot of you have obviously NOT tried it to see how it works.

I do a lot of Affiliate Marketing too and I have mixed feelings about this new toolbar. It CAN, with the users help, change the content on your site into a link.

BUT

I don't have any addresses, so Google can't make any of them into links for maps.

I don't sell books, so Google can't make any of them into links.

I don't have VIN numbers on my site, so Google can't make any of them into links.

I don't like the idea of anyone (potentially) changing any of the content on my site for their own purpose. But in reality, it's not going to affect me (at this moment)

ricards

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 5:13 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

There is an option to remove it? I try to do this but nathing this search engines is boring-me i thing the best is the directories

[edited by: jatar_k at 5:20 pm (utc) on Aug. 8, 2005]
[edit reason] no urls thanks [/edit]

DaveAtIFG

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 5:15 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Smart Tags was strongly opposed by webmasters a few years ago because of "slippery slope" issues. Further encroachment on web sites was fully expected since MS was (is?) generally considered untrustworthy. Google is generally perceived to be more benign than MS and more trusted. AutoLinks is less intrusive than Smart Tags in its present form.

And that's the problem.

As the battle for searcher's eyeballs heats up between G, Y and MSN, what's to stop AutoLinks from becoming more intrusive? Google thinks to themselves, "It's already been accepted by webmasters. It's installed and being used, we'll just make the next version 'always enabled'."

Further encroachment could become a necessity for Google soon, to prop up falling profits resulting from competition.

A petition opposing AutoLinks has been available for six months or longer but few have paid much attention.

[edited by: jatar_k at 6:31 pm (utc) on Aug. 8, 2005]

Sea_Colon

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 5:21 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

The js to block this has been around for a while now. To any of you who have used it: seen any evidence of a G serps (or other...) penalty having been levied (yet)?
Also, if you happen upon a page with the address of G's CEO, do you think the address autolink function will be magically disabled? Perhaps in the next release of the toolbar...

twist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 5:40 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Seriously guys - welcome to the business world. A customer leaving your store because someone had a more convincing sell is nothing new.

The point is, the advertisement for the more convincing sell is in your store. I have never walked into walmart and seen ads for kmart, have you? Of course not, this would be %100 unacceptable to walmart and would never happen. No business would allow a competing business to advertise at it's business, what business world are you referring too?

Google aren't doing anything wrong.

Just paving the way for microsoft and others, if google gets away with this, I can only imagine what microsoft will do with IE7 by default, or even the new windows. Optional or not, google has figured out a way to advertise on your website without paying you a cent, all under the disguise of a free pop-up blocker by a trusted company. I wonder how many people would have installed a program from google whose tagline was, "Have the webpages you visit filled with even MORE advertisements!"

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying just because Google gives us a lot and makes us a lot of money they should be allowed to do as they please.

Whose us? Google doesn't make you any money, your website makes you money, by advertising or selling a product. If anything, our websites make google money. No websites, no google. We use them no more than they use us. Take your advertisements and products off your website, then tell me how much money google is making you.

The bottom line is that this is an optional feature used by a small percentage of users, who have to click a button to activate the feature even when it's activated by default.

The bottom line is it is a crappy feature that NOBODY wants and has many people concerned about where this idea of placing ads on people's websites without permission could go. If google is allowed to get away with this with little fuss or bother they may just take it a step further, or possibly microsoft may take a turn at this. The idea of adding advertising to others people's copyrighted work should be dealt with immediately before it gets out of hand, just my opinion though.

j4mes

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 5:46 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Don't be evil." [google.com]

arubicus

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 5:57 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

When something like this is developed (if we don't put a stop to it) it will eventually be accepted as being "natural". When this happens they will step over their bounds a bit more (heck who know what's next). Kind of like taxes. The gov. takes a little at the start. Eventually, with passing generations, the current tax rate is generally accepted as being "natural". Later a little more gets "taken" and eventually it gets accepted as "natural". Then a little more...and a little more.

MatthewHSE

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 6:17 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would not mind this if it were an opt-in type of feature. Include a little JS at top of your page and Google's AutoLinks would be added to the page - and you'd get revenue from it, like AdSense.

However, I'm not sure this is actually as bad as it would seem at first glance. As Lasko said above, the AutoLink feature appears to need to be activated for every page view, by a deliberate click of a button. Although, as others have pointed out, this may be just the first step toward making it a default feature.

Also, it's not just adding links to any old word that Google has some AdWord buyers for. It only inserts links for addresses, ISBN's, and VIN's. That's enough to be pretty bad for some sites, but I suspect that most sites won't be affected much by this. I was going to block the AutoLink feature on my site, but have concluded not to do so since none of the info it would autolink appears on my site. (And again, this could still just be one step towards something that would add "relevant links" to any old word on the page.)

Actually, at the moment, the AutoLink feature seems more like a Firefox extension than anything else, like some of the other extensions that help make searching easier.

My opinion on this is that it's not all that bad yet, but it's a step in the wrong direction and needs to be watched carefully. (Obviously I'd be a little more upset if I ran a site that sold books!)

arubicus

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 6:29 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

"but it's a step in the wrong direction and needs to be watched carefully. (Obviously I'd be a little more upset if I ran a site that sold books!)"

Agreed - To me this is just a small step as in my example above with the taxes. Just etch away little by little as each step gets "accepted" as being "natural".

"Also, it's not just adding links to any old word that Google has some AdWord buyers for."

This is probably a direction that google would prefer to go no doubt. Little by little they may try. It will depend on resistance and of course law. If they are allowed to hide behind "if the user clicks on a button to activate the feature" this will probably be seen in the near future. We all know they have the capability to do it too (just a matter of resistance and law).

Clark

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 6:54 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Marketing Guy,

Just checking. Are you now or have you ever worked for Google in any capacity.

DaveAtIFG

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 6:59 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

A petition opposing AutoLinks has been available for six months or longer but few have paid much attention.
If you're interested in the petiton, this Google search [google.com] will help you find it.
kapow

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 6:59 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi Google Marketing Guy
Exactly my thought too ;)

No way will I risk putting a blocking JS on my very clean, very popular, well ranking for years...website; and risk a ban, sandbox, 'natural SERP change' or something else.

MatthewHSE

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 7:10 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google in effect is inserting their adverts on your website

You are in effect inserting your adverts on Google's site.

I don't get it. At what point is someone putting their own advertisements on Google's site, except through AdWords, which Google expressly gives permisison to do? (And regulates how the program can be used, receives money for it, etc., etc.)

balam

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 7:18 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

> To any of you who have used it: seen any evidence of a G serps (or other...) penalty having been levied (yet)?

I've been using the Javascript version [searchguild.com] (there are others [threadwatch.org]) for a few months, and have noticed no detrimental effect on my SERP placement.

texasville

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 7:32 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

If google uses my hard work and my dollars spent developing my sight to bring visitors and lures my visitors away by virtue of their inserted advertising then, yes that is stealing. If I managed to insert advertising into the newspaper without paying for it, then that would also be stealing. Google is supposed to be a search engine. My site IS their product. When they use my product to steal my traffic and earn commissions from sales to my customers to my competitors, then that is fraud. Anyone heard of class action? Start referring to them as the goomonster.

arubicus

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 7:37 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

"To any of you who have used it: seen any evidence of a G serps (or other...) penalty having been levied (yet)?"

My question is why should we HAVE to put any code to prevent Google to place crap on our pages?

cayleyv

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 7:45 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

The reason affiliate programs exist is so you can link your content to ecommerce websites. This move (just like microsoft smart tags) removes the affiliate system and removes a chance at revenue for the site owner.

Whats next, hyperlinking text for music/movies/games to amazon?

Marketing Guy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 8:13 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Just checking. Are you now or have you ever worked for Google in any capacity.

Absolute paranoid nonsense typical of forums - someone doesn't agree and they must have a vested interest they're not telling you about.

No I don't work for Google, never have, nor any affiliates, partners, etc of Google.

I just don't see what the problem is, other than the fact that quite a few people have jumped on the "this is an outrage" bandwagon without actually trying the damn feature themselves.

The autolink feature is not as nearly as offensive as a lot of people are making out. It is completely user prompted - even if activated by default still requires users to click the toolbar button to activate the links - all the update is alleged to have done is put the button on the toolbar by default which it wasn't before (I say alleged, because I haven't seen it do this on my home or work PC).

It would be completely different if it chucked links on your site as standard. But it doesn't.

My question is why should we HAVE to put any code to prevent Google to place crap on our pages?

Because you don't like it? Because you want to preserve your perceived financial loss in the face on an emerging threat?

No different from updating robots.txt to block email harvesters. If you don't like it then do something about it. In fact, again I say if you are so morally outraged then ban Google, leave Adsense and stop spending money on Adwords. :)

I'd love to see Google engineers come here and whine the way the SEO community does. Why o why don't those spammers leave us alone? It's not fair....It's our index....they don't have the right to do this....and so on. ;)

And round and round we go.

The reason affiliate programs exist is so you can link your content to ecommerce websites.

Lol what? Affiliate programmes exist to make money for the companies selling the product. Aff websites are just a means to an end.

zafile



 
Msg#: 1010 posted 8:17 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

As I mentioned before, I have restricted the use of the Google toolbar to only one of my machines. I use Google toolbar version 2.0.114.9.

I never wanted to try version 3 because I figured out one of the new features included some "evil" in it.

Could someone explain how Google displays third party links in someone else's Web page.

Where do the links appear on the Web page? Do the links show with some additional text?

Thanks in advance.

This 187 message thread spans 7 pages: < < 187 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 > >
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