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




msg:1101629
 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?

 

zafile




msg:1101689
 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.

Marketing Guy




msg:1101690
 8:23 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

When activated the option adds a button to the toolbar.

When the user clicks the button, it toggles links on and off (ISBN numbers, addresses, etc). They appear on page.

The button's drop down menu also has a list of links that "appear" (or would appear) on the page.

DoppyNL




msg:1101691
 8:30 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?


So true.

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

Affiliate programs only for the party that sels the product?
Don't think so!
It's something that is good for both party's!
- one gets more visitors and sells more products
- the other gets a little money for redirecting visitors.

Google just became a major affiliate of several website's and directs visitors from my site's to their affiliates and gets money for it.
This money should go to my pocket! Not Google's!

Clark




msg:1101692
 8:35 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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

Talk about paranoid. I never made an assumption. I simply asked a question. No need to get defensive.

BTW, I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. [editing a comment that could be taken the wrong way]

Thanks for sharing your POV though.

MoneyMan




msg:1101693
 8:46 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Comparison to autolink being analogous to one store advertising in another store (Kmart having ads in Walmart) is a bit misrepresented. It's more analogous to a customer walking in a store and seeing a product, but then having a handy little tool which they could pull out and find out what Walmart charges or even if they carry the same product. Sure the store that the user is in would not want it such a tool being used in their store. They always have a choice. Donít allow users in with the tool. Or figure out a way to block the signal in your store so the tool is useless. The point is that this tool is meant as a convenience for the users. If users find it to be a convenience, they will use it more and G will definitely expand its functionality, likely to the dismay of many in our community. If userís find the tool and/or the autolink to be too intrusive or ďpushyĒ they, as a market, will determine itís not worth the promoted convenience and stop using it or portions of it.

It's interesting to hear all this outrage as if G did this to hurt us, the webmaster community. The G toolbar is a tool downloaded by the user (opt in) to enhance a userís search functions. It's up to the user whether they want to use this feature or even download the toolbar in the first place. Is the autolink a slippery slope and is in the grey area of internet ethics, and if taken further could a lot more people money? Sure. This is capitalism. If you can, go strike the deal with G to have mentions of widgets link to your site. Again, itís an opt-in tool for the enhancement of a user experience. Meaning, unfortunately for webmasters, itís up to the user to decide.

In the end, the market (including G) is driven by profit. Profit is driven by users first, webmasters second.

Obviously this is a controversial topic; Iím just trying to provide an alternate view (or support one that MG has already presented.)

RonPK




msg:1101694
 8:50 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Most website publishers probably put ISBNs on their sites as a service to the user. The user can copy the ISBN and paste it into the search box on their favourite online bookstore's site, or write it down and buy the book in the local store. Now a software company provides the user with a tool that simplifies the copy/paste process, i.e. makes it easier to do something with the ISBN. No reason to bash the software company, I'd say.

If you don't like your visitors using the ISBN: don't put it on your page.

texasville




msg:1101695
 8:51 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

marketing guy- you seem to think because google has to deal with some spammers out there and some affiliate marketers that that gives them rights to use my product to make them money other than on their own pages. I disagree. I don't run any affiliate marketing or adsense or anything but if I did...It is my property bought and paid for and using my content for anything without license from me is or should be illegal.

MatthewHSE




msg:1101696
 8:51 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Good points MoneyMan. Although I doubt that this feature will ever autolink to specific websites. It's more likely (in my opinion) to work like those new little "Google Ad Links" boxes in the AdSense program, where you click one of them and get taken to a list of AdWords ads for that particular term. I think AutoLink will work about that same way if it's ever expanded to autolink regular words in the flow of a page.

akmac




msg:1101697
 9:12 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Although I doubt that this feature will ever autolink to specific websites."

You mean other than Amazon?

MatthewHSE




msg:1101698
 9:17 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

What I mean is that you won't be able to go to Google and "buy a word" to be AutoLinked.

ugamis1




msg:1101699
 9:18 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would suspect that most people are not so outraged at how it works now but how they fear it could work in the future.
If you can not see this, I hate to say but I believe you to be naive. Lets take a honest look at all of this:

>> For example: Google share prices really high. Adwords / Sense doing a great job for them. Okay so eventually growth in PPC advertising mediums will slow, now there is pressure to increase revenues. It is really easy for a company to use the slogan, "don't do evil" when there aren't angry shareholders to appease. <<

>> Who does not agree with the statement above, I would be suprised if anyone does <<

So lets take it a step further. When everything is not going Google's way, which way will Google go? What way do you think Marketing Guy? If you are in marketing, then you are well aware of the pressures a sales department can put on a company. Am I wrong? I doubt it. Whether Google succumbs to these pressures (when everything is not going their way) is yet to be seen. Again, it is for a company to take the moral highground with the coffers are flowing with gold.

The other comments people have made about this setting a precedent are 100% correct. I think we may see two different approaches from Microsoft.

Since they are getting ready to launch their own PPC agency, then why would they not deliver similiar ads since they own pretty much every web browser on this planet (save the 5% firefox users). Who is to say that they will take the same approach as Google -- and at what point does okay become not okay?

Or - I think it would be nifty of Microsoft to just develop a method of autodisabling this feature as some sort of spyware. Would take a punch at Google's revenue.

Rugles




msg:1101700
 9:23 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>>I just don't see what the problem is

MG...... I do. Apparently others do as well.

Imagine spending a fortune on traditional advertising to get people to visit your site, when they do the toolbar tries to get them to go elsewhere. It is the equivalent of a guy standing behind the Walmart greeter holding a sign saying "visit Target for more savings", and then not allowing Walmart to kick the guy out of the store.

If this thing proceeds, Google has definately moved to the dark side.

(Google Guy is probably getting fitted for his horns right now)

arubicus




msg:1101701
 9:24 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

"but then having a handy little tool which they could pull out and find out what Walmart charges or even if they carry the same product."

Actually this is misreprestative also. Although the tool may tell a person what the compeditor is charging, it in no way ALTERS the presentation of items on the shelf for financial gain of compeditors/makers of the tool.

Sea_Colon




msg:1101702
 9:24 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

The semantic web for fun and profit!
Coming soon to a toolbar near you!

Uyuu




msg:1101703
 9:29 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

It doesn't mater wether Google is right or not. Wether the user has the right to modify the page or not. That is irrelevant guys.

What maters is how much can Google piss their partners: adsense/adwords users. If they make a good job at pissing them, I'm sure many will go the Yahoo/Msn route like there is no tomorrow.

For a company that only relies on advertisement Google really seems desperate for money.

Lets see how much time it takes for the pissed webmasters to abandon Google adsense and see their profits drop by 50%. Maybe Steve Ballmer was right after all...

I'm pissed. Those who put them where they are can also make them disappear.

RonPK




msg:1101704
 9:31 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Good point, Sea_Colon! Actually, this is what may happen if XHTML really catches on. It is meant to enable clients (browsers, that is) to parse the content anyway the user likes. If the user likes to see links to Amazon, so be it.

lukasz




msg:1101705
 9:35 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

If you keep your toolbar just to check pagerank there is a solution.
You can uninstall google toolbar and install Google Pagerank Status extension in Firefox.
Maybe mass un-installation will send a message to Google.

Marketing Guy




msg:1101706
 9:46 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yeh ugamis1 I totally agree it could potentially be a huge issue. I just think that the reaction to the reality just now is way overblown.

If we're talking hypothetically then lots of things could be the case. But in reality they aren't.

And indeed, the analogy of offline businesses is flawed to the point where examples could be made for and against pretty much any arguement about online marketing.

No, traffic from Google doesn't justify their right to do as they please, as I've already said. But I do think a little more give and take is in order because in one way or another a large percentage of the people here profit a great deal from Google (*waits for the numerous "I don't" posts*).

Imagine spending a fortune on traditional advertising to get people to visit your site, when they do the toolbar tries to get them to go elsewhere. It is the equivalent of a guy standing behind the Walmart greeter holding a sign saying "visit Target for more savings", and then not allowing Walmart to kick the guy out of the store.

OK fair enough, but in this analogy Walmart are allowed to kick him out, and they most certainly would. Just like webmasters are capable of keeping Google out in one shape or form.

Right now, most websites are open marketplaces for people to walk in freely and are susceptable to all kinds of crap - content theft, fraudulent orders, DOS attacks, search engine "changes" - it doesn't mean that you have to bend over and accept it - there's stuff you can do - that BnM businesses do to protect themselves.

When I was at Uni, I worked in a shop that suffered several thousands of pounds of loses from theft each month despite security measures. It was accepted as a commercial reality because otherwise the store was profitable.

I'm not saying this is the same, but what I am saying is that it's perfectly within your abilities to prevent / allow this. Accept it or don't - doesn't really matter to anyone but you.

IMO it isn't a big deal. It's not intrusive - it may be useful for some people.

marketing guy- you seem to think because google has to deal with some spammers out there and some affiliate marketers that that gives them rights to use my product to make them money other than on their own pages.

Not saying that at all. Just saying everything's relative.

Talk about paranoid. I never made an assumption. I simply asked a question. No need to get defensive.

Read back and see how many times someone has suggested I work for Google in this thread. ;)

Affiliate programs only for the party that sels the product?
Don't think so!
It's something that is good for both party's!

Indeed it's good for both parties, but don't kid yourself - affiliate programmes serve the purpose of the retailer primarily. A few bucks here and there to have people creating infinite amounts of exposure online is a small price to pay. Free exposure and sales (with commission already factored into the profit margin), while affiliates do the hard work of competing with each other, trying to get to the prime real estate? Mom and Pop never had it so good. ;) Slave labour I'll think you'll find, albeit reasonably well paid labour!

MG

graywolf




msg:1101707
 10:14 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

A much better analogy is walking into an italian restaurant and asking for a menu and to borrow the phone, then calling the pizza parlor down the street seeing if they have the same food. Sure the actions are user initiated, and may be in the customers best interest, but that doesn't make it good or right.

If you don't think this is the tip of the iceberg then you aren't thinking big enough. It's pretty easy to see how they could autolink UPC codes or product names to bring you into froogle, or even cities or country names to bring you into a travel portal. Just because they aren't trampling on your space now is no guarantee they won't in the future.

One last point if you use the google toolbar in firefox, you can see it is overwriting addresses that are already linked to go somewhere else. This is behavior Google's PR rep said it would never do.

Boaz




msg:1101708
 10:16 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Marketing Guy, if this were Google's last step in this direction, I would agree with everything you say. But I see this as a first shot (ok, second) in a long battle to come.
Think for a second - if what we see now (which you find acceptable) would have been Google's final aim - would they have bothered? (given the negative publicity they risk getting, and rather minimal earnings I believe). Quite obviously (to me at least) this is just a test.
Almost no one said it outright, but how's this for a next step - Google sees the coast is clear, and displays adsense on any site, without asking the site owner, and without sharing income. It's relevant, it's a service to the user, and it will hurt like hell... But I guess you will still think it is fair game (?) - after all, nearly all arguments you gave now could be applied to the model I just described.
And no, this is not farfetched, and is not paranoid fantasy - it makes complete financial sense from Google's POV..

MoneyMan




msg:1101709
 10:27 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Although the tool may tell a person what the compeditor is charging, it in no way ALTERS the presentation of items on the shelf for financial gain of compeditors/makers of the tool

That's fair. The "tool" in my scenario would be one that alters the display to present you with the competitorís items. The point still stands, though. The tool is opt-in and user enabled with explicit intent on the user's behalf under the premise of added convenience.

If the user doesn't like it, they won't use it.

If you the merchant don't like it, stop them from using it. G doesnít owe webmasters the ability to stop visitors from using a tool they created and users opted into using.

If this action pushing the envelope too much and is viewed as anti-competitive behavior, G will see themselves in the courts a la MS and a line will be drawn conclusively. Right now the line is not drawn so of course G will attempt to create tools which help users and include methods for monetization.

If the extreme scenarios that are described here come to fruition and the G toolbar (specifically autolink) is used by a perceptible number of people such that it has a noticeable effect on internet browsing, then the effected webmasters will be forced to figure out ways to adapt.

akmac




msg:1101710
 10:34 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm just wondering how I get added to the list of sites that provide books...

twist




msg:1101711
 10:35 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I guess this is the same logic as people selling dvd decryption software. They aren't personally modifying or copying copyrighted material. They are just giving people the tools to do it. I wonder why they are trying to stop them from distributing software that modifies copyrighted material while google is allowed to distribute the same software? IMO, google is even worse than the people selling dvd decryption software, because google is giving it away for free under the guise of doing no evil.

Rugles




msg:1101712
 10:37 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>>If you don't think this is the tip of the iceberg then you aren't thinking big enough.

You got that right!

It is only a matter of money (and time) to develop these kinds of things, and Google is rolling in cash.

texasville




msg:1101713
 10:43 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

"If you the merchant don't like it, stop them from using it. G doesnít owe webmasters the ability to stop visitors from using a tool they created and users opted into using."

You know, that really isn't the point. Google is always holding themselves up to being so white hat and severely "spanking" anyone they perveive to be black hat. However, it seems that whatever they want to do is okay.
If you think this isn't causing a major uproar all across the net check out the search terms over it and see. All across the net. And google and cnet have already had a major rift over this with articles there claiming google toolbar is just spyware. Think google=gator

oneguy




msg:1101714
 10:49 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Think for a second - if what we see now (which you find acceptable) would have been Google's final aim - would they have bothered?

Of course there will be upgrades along the way, just like most great software. ;) I can't wait until they're linking every word on every page for something or another.

cmendla




msg:1101715
 11:02 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I see two little irritants you can throw at google.

1. Make all of your addresses with a text color the same as the highlighting they use for the links. That will make the addresses disappear when autolink is clicked

2. Seperate the city and state from the address if possible on yor site. I had some addresses on the east coast and google was showing maps for california. On the other hand this will hurt search engine placement for your sites.

Both items above are nothing more than a little bit of defiance. The real hope is that this thread is at the top of the ww list today. Keeping the pressure on google will hopefully have the same effect it did on uncle bill and Microsoft.

Google - WE DON'T LIKE YOU MESSING WITH OUR STEENKING LEENKS!

"do no evil"... What a joke!

MatthewHSE




msg:1101716
 11:06 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I can't wait until they're linking every word on every page for something or another.

I doubt they'll do that. It will be based on the same technology that determines which AdSense ads to display - they'll find out the topic of the page, then AutoLink words relevant to that topic. To link every word would dilute the whole concept so much as to make it worthless.

Incidentally, I consider something along those lines virtually inevitable. Sticking my neck way out for a moment, I hereby predict we'll see it in 12-18 months. ;)

Has anyone wondered how many ideas Google (and others) get just from the speculation here? I mean, none of us really know what will happen... ;)

walkman




msg:1101717
 11:09 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I hope the issue some instructions on how to stop this. You know they will keep expanding on this. Now it's maps, book info, but tomorrow they might add definitions, products from Froogle and god knows what else.

LEAVE MY PAGES AS THEY ARE!

NoLimits




msg:1101718
 11:33 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Wow. I just caught wind of this and had to put in my .02 cents.

I typed a novel and had to summarize because I am so livid. Here are my rants summarized, and profanity removed.

1) It IS WRONG for AdSense to STEAL visitors - ESPECIALLY if these visitors are coming from the pages of people who PAID GOOGLE ADWORDS for the visitors.

2) Google already allows FIVE of their AdSense links per page, which is spammy already. Now they are going to add a conglomoration of links to the mess. Way to spam the internet up G.

3) This is Spyware Esque. I have been infected with Spyware in the past that did the exact same thing - great to put yourself in that category G.

Lastly, and most importantly - If I were an AdWords Advertiser, I would absolutely REFUSE to run any campaigns knowing that there is a good chance that I would lose the visitor to a link. A link that makes MORE MONEY for the person I PAID for the visotor.

In final summary. People pay for their traffic, and if they don't pay for it they work too damn hard for it for Google to steal it away from their pages.

I may very well let my morals get the better of me and drop AdSense from my site. I love the program - but the company is setting themselves up for a very, very bad day on Wall Street.

uk_webber




msg:1101719
 11:36 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google is a listed company. The company only exists to make the share holders richer.

Google will do everything possible to maximise their profits and keep their owners happy / rich.

Accept it or open a bookshop up in your town.

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