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Next Up: Google Search Algorithm Under Government Control?
Google Algorithm Tweaks Need Government Approval?

 1:23 pm on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

New York Times Editorial:


A sign of things to come?

First the European Anti-trust Regulators..now New York Times' editorial.....all acknowledge the power of Google and their "self serving" algorithm changes that benefit Google directly...and I have to agree.

Hate to see any government fingers in a private business, but many businesses count on Google serps and now Google is getting into travel field (buying ITA and their flight info).....besides products/insurance/etc.

I am glad to see talk and realization on what is happening right in front of our eyes.

It will be interesting to watch how all this plays out.



 11:08 pm on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's time for another couple of programmer kids to start a new Google!

Can't argue there, and I think they did...
Those kids in Redmond, WA are doing some really cool stuff!


 11:22 pm on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

cien, my thoughts exactly.

In that immortal cinematic triumph, "Bugs and Thugs," as Bugs Bunny was held captive by the feckless bank robbers, the head cop outside ordered his squad, <cop_irish.accent>All right, Clancy, take the boys and surround the house.</>


 11:23 pm on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google offers a FREE service. Your dependence upon them does not obligate them to continue serving you in the manner you have become accustomed to.

The corruption of google will open that space for new innovation and competition-which is a win for webmasters.

Let them continue to p1mp themselves for dollars at the cost of their core competency(search), and a better search engine will soon overtake them.


 11:29 pm on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

a government-controlled Google

Heard the one about the government-controlled search engine?

* Anything critical of governing party = minus 950 penalty
* Anything positive about opposing party = minus 950 penalty
* All business websites required to pay annual fee for inclusion
* All personal sites required to supply social security number
* All foreign sites labelled "this site can harm your computer"
* All search queries and Tweets databased against your full name
* All data retained for eternity in quadruplicate
* Deleting cookies punishable by fine or imprisonment

And on the search homepage:

* Click "I'm Feeling Lucky" for online tax assessment
* Button to "Install Free Spyware" in top right corner

Careful what you wish for.



 1:08 am on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

The writing was on the wall all a long (for me anyway). I always thought it was just a matter of time before big businesses, government and news papers start asking questions.

Google is very powerful....way too powerful. Their power over millions of businesses all around the world *BEGS* scrutiny.

The black box approach of "its all done by algo, no humans" crap just not going to cut it anymore. You see, humans are the ones writing the algo and humans are far from perfect.

Expect the volume of calls for government intervention to considerably increase from this point on as the Internet is now part of a vast majority of businesses around the world.

As much as i hate to think about it, unfortunately it is unavoidable!

The wi-fi data collection mess and buzz privacy bungle were just the opening shot in a longggggg "PLEASE EXPLAIN", "PLEASE SHOW", road that Google will now have to take.


 7:18 pm on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

I wonder how the NYT would react to an editorial by Google suggesting that the US Government review editorial decisions made at the Times on what not to print... just saying.

Great point. On the other hand, is the New York Times really independent?

[edited by: tedster at 1:32 am (utc) on Jul 16, 2010]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]


 1:50 am on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Ah so, Danny Sullivan has expanded on this idea very nicely:

The New York Times Algorithm & Why It Needs Government Regulation [searchengineland.com]


 2:14 am on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Nobody forces 62.5% of people to use Google... heck, Google barely advertises at all! Google's browser doesn't come pre-loaded with every computer set to the Google homepage. Microsoft and Yahoo spend millions around each "shopping" holiday in conventional advertisements to attract new visitors. Why aren't they more popular? Their results suck. Bing couldn't find it's way out of a paper bag and Yahoo's homepage is so jammed with junk that it makes my eyes sore. Google's got what people want.


 2:23 am on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

The gov't having a say in Google's search algorithm would be the start of something very, very messy.


 3:16 am on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

All you guys with page rank above 7 need to fork over some of it to the little guys coming up in the world. Yes, you have to make room for us afterall it is only fair that we redistribute the rank. In fact, let us get rid of all high ranked sites - they make too much money. Let us start the serps on page 3. That would be more fair.


 3:23 am on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

And while you guys are at it please tell Coke to give us the formula. It isn't fair that they make all the money and bonuses on the backs (throats) of the common folk.


 4:19 am on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

You gotta love those analogies! Also, the recipe for that lemonade from the fat 5 year old girl around the corner. She sells a lot man! :-)

Coke is not a good analogy sailorjwd, don't you think? They are not a monopoly and no business' existence depend on coke's tantrums as it's the case with Google. :-)

I don't think Google should be forced to hand over the algo but they sure need some regulation. They are just doing and undoing at will and that has to stop. They think they have their own set of laws. They shoot first and ask questions later. They violate laws, run over others and hope not to get sued; if they do, they have unlimited funds so not a worry there.

Look at the wi-fi deal and their favoritism for Google Base listings, youtube videos, google adwords at the top of the organic listings, and google maps. That has got to stop. The government need to sic their dogs on them but 911! They are being anti-competitive. With power comes responsibility. They could care less about that.


 9:57 am on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

people talk like google is just a search engine like any other. they are not. people say you shouldn't depend on them and if you do, then that's tough luck on you. because you should have had more sense.

but the fact is this: the vast vast majority of people find websites through google. and if google doesn't list you for some keyword or another then the chances are you won't be found. it's alright the big boys saying pay for some ads or something, but not every new business is in a position to do that.

in any another business, you have options. if you start up a shop, then you can rely on people walking past. but in the world of the web, google owns the highstreet, and directs people where to go (which increasingly means straight into their own premises, by listing their sites and ads above the serps)

if you start up a local business, you can leaflet the neighbourhood for free. but in the world of the web, leafleting, or cold-calling (spamming) will get you banned from google.

if you start up a local service, then you can put ads in other businesses windows, but in the world of the web, buying text links on other sites will get you banned from google.

a lot of the rules that google enforce, like penalising paid links, have spread across the entire web, so its no longer perculiar to their own search engine. but who gave google the power to 'criminalise' millions of pounds worth of perfectly legitimate advertising dollars like that? because that is in effect what they have done. companies have spent millions of pounds worth of advertising dollars over the years on perfectly normal plugs on other sites, just like in any other media field, and google comes along and pretty much makes it 'illegal'.

why should a single company be allowed to dictate the rules of the web in this way?

what is the difference, really, in spending 100 on a text link on a popular site, and spending 100 on Google ads. there is no difference. penalising the first simply means that sites have to get the traffic from elsewhere. and guess where google wants them to come. it's a racket. it's like protection money -- they are saying "dont spend money in their shop, or i will bust your site back to position one million".

all the laws on the SEO statute book have google's rubber stamp.


 11:36 am on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

pretty heated debate here with two distinct camps. true, government control would just make things worse. but i think many of the people who call others "morons" aren't fully aware of the consequences a monopoly has to a free market.

there is a point, when getting sucked in by a company with excessive market strength is not avoidable for an individual any more. you can put the blame on the other businesses all you want. in many cases, there is simply no way around google, from a consumer as from a producer perspective. and that's not caused by an insufficient market strategy but by the sheer volume of the their monopolistic influence. in some countries, google got 95% market share in their field. "well, people have other options" doesn't get you any further here, it's no argument. you have to face the facts. the fact is, google controls the search market while they are also the biggest advertising agency for text ads. they destroy formerly efficient markets with more and more cross-subsidized services. they manage to push through legally questionable services like youtube, google books and street view just because of their influence and market strength.

there are anti-trust laws in place for good reason which can handle these situations. while governmental control has to be avoided, at the same time regulation of monopolies isn't bad at all. it's a necessity for a healthy economy.


 1:57 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Okay, londrum, but also in any other business you do things like 'feasibility studies' and 'business plans', 'budgeting for marketing', 'raising capital' and you really think through the viability of what you're doing, because it's a huge investment, and you actually have to make more than a $50 investment to get started.

IMO most people skip all the important stuff when they come to the web, depend solely on free traffic and then complain when it dries up... And, the biggest problem with the web is it's TOO EASY to get involved and people take the 'lazy approach' to 'running a business', which means, to me, it's not really a business.

How much room is there for 'new ideas' to be present?
How many people can claim they actually do something unique no one else is doing?

There are plenty of people already in the most areas and if people don't do their homework and figure out exactly what they're getting into and don't realize there are no guarantees for free traffic from any search engine and plan to exist without the free traffic, then IMO they have no business calling what they run a business, because the people who do not know or fully understand the way the web works or plan to exist without free traffic are running a charity, again IMO. There is NO entitlement to putting up a site and being able to make money from it. NONE WHATSOEVER. And, if people don't do their due diligence prior to starting what they like to refer to as a business then who's f****** fault is it? IMO It's theirs, because they have NO PLAN for long term viability.

IMO you're making it sound like people are somehow entitled to be able to run a 'business' on the web when many (most?) who do would not be qualified to run a B & M business. The bar is being raised and the 'free spots' are generally filled, and it's the responsibility of the person starting the 'business' to do their due diligence prior to starting the 'business' or they have no business calling it a business and they are not any more entitled to make money from their lack of knowledge or planning than the person who's trying to start a B & M business without doing their homework.

If someone built an unknown Mom & Pop sandwich shop in the same 6 business 'strip mall' as Quizno's, Subway and Sub Shop they'd be called stupid when they failed, and IMO the same type of person with the same lack of planning is no more entitled to have a successful 'business' when they build a site that already exists or is in an area already covered... If they did their due diligence they might realize they have to be (or will soon have to be) 'elite' at what they're doing to compete and think twice about quitting their day job.

It's a lack of thought and planning IMO that's the issue, not Google.

[edited by: TheMadScientist at 2:14 pm (utc) on Jul 16, 2010]


 1:59 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

there are anti-trust laws in place for good reason which can handle these situations. while governmental control has to be avoided, at the same time regulation of monopolies isn't bad at all. it's a necessity for a healthy economy.

Excellent summary.

On the business model points, I think everyone agrees that no sustainable business model would be built upon search traffic. Doesnt mean a lot of people haven't got in and got out with million$ while they were riding the top of the serps, so many that are'nt making it now are already rich, not sustainable but they don't care,they're on a beach in the bahamas.


 2:20 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think the issue here is not whether businesses should have sound business plans, or think they are entitled to better rankings, etc. That's irrelevant here. Let's not blame the victims here. The issue here is about Google's "self serving" algorithm that benefits Google directly; therefore eliminating competition (Mapquest for example). In other words, Google's properties should receive the same indexing, ranking treatment as all other web properties; therefore, playing fair. Again, Google is not Yahoo or Bing which can get away with this. Google is a monopoly, the dominant search engine owning more than 50% of the search shares. Nobody is asking to have better ranking positioning but for Google to play fair. Arguments that it's their business and they can do whatever they want are amateurish and not in touch with reality. There are anti-trust laws for a reason.

[edited by: cien at 2:45 pm (utc) on Jul 16, 2010]


 2:45 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Which type of monopoly do you think Google has cien?


 2:51 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

i dont think search engines can be treated the same as normal businesses. i think they deserve extra scrutiny because they are fundamental to how the web works -- especially when one of them has a near monopoly.

its like this: internet users are wandering around in the dark, and google has the only torch. if they dont shine the light your way, well, you need to work harder and get yourself into the beam - fair enough - but when they chuck a big black blanket over your head, that is unfair. you may as well go and jump inside a 100 feet hole.

if you try and strap a flashing light to your head, to get some attention, google will come along and bust the bulb.

that is what google are doing when they penalise you for no good reason. buying text links (i cant think of a better example, but im sure there's more) is an example of them penalising businesses for no good reason. we all know why it came about: it's because they don't have any reliable means of sorting the good links from the bad, so they've just decided to punish those that cause them the most difficulties, stamping them out -- problem solved.

and this has now become an actual rule of the web, a real law. if Bing or Yahoo announced tomorrow that paid links were okay, then no one would pay a blind bit of notice. But if Google said it, everyone would get their checkbooks out. Google law supercedes everything else. and the perfectly legitimate text link industry, kapput! bye bye!

Google has become the judge and jury of what is right and wrong in SEO and website promotion.

there's something very wierd going on here, when people are perfectly comfortable in letting a bazillion dollar behemoth like google decide what is right and wrong, but baulk at the idea of our very own government taking a look. the government has our best interests at heart! google do not.


 2:56 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

What type of monopoly is it people think Google has?

I honestly have been trying to figure out which type of monopoly people are talking about and saying they have, so will someone who is saying they have a monopoly please tell me which type of monopoly it is?

Really, what qualifies Google as which type of monopoly?


 3:01 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Search and ad serving. I know I'm getting in the lion's mouth here since it seems everybody has a different meaning for "monopoly". Even Microsoft spending a lot money in advertising is going basically nowhere. Google is way too big to beat. At least in France they are a clear monopoly owning 90% of searches.

This topic has been debated for years now and it never gotten anywhere.

[edited by: cien at 3:08 pm (utc) on Jul 16, 2010]


 3:02 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

you're going to say there's no such law, but that's what we're talking about -- there should be. a monopoly on search traffic.


 3:09 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

cien I don't have any different definition for monopoly that what I've read here and in the links from there I've followed: [en.wikipedia.org...]

Legally I cannot figure out how they have a monopoly right now.
Coercive? I don't think so... [en.wikipedia.org...]
Natural? IDK... from what I've read it doesn't seem like it. [en.wikipedia.org...]

londrum is saying there should be a law, and I honestly don't know if they qualify as one now or not according to the law... My guess is they don't legally have one but they could, and if they don't since they're 'in bed with' some intelligence agencies it's probably going to be very difficult to get one passed.

I really don't know if they legally qualify right now or not, but I think if people are going to say they have a monopoly, then they should have an idea of what type it is, because there's more than one...

[edited by: TheMadScientist at 3:14 pm (utc) on Jul 16, 2010]


 3:13 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

There may be a case for google being investigated by a review board (select committee) if their power is seen as too much by some, but I can't see Gov getting involved in other ways.

If your business becomes dependent on Google Serps, make sure you build enough margin in so that you can continue your business with Adwords if your SERPS stop performing.

I think that is the responsible angle to take.


 3:16 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

I found this quite interesting from your link Themadscientist:

"Monopolies derive their market power from barriers to entry - circumstances that prevent or greatly impede a potential competitor's entry into the market or ability to compete in the market. There are three major types of barriers to entry; economic, legal and deliberate."

Exactly what Google is doing. Mapquest for example was the most used map related service until Google decided to favor their own Google Maps. Hitwise's statistics show evidence of it. Now Mapquest is quickly disappearing from the face of the earth. That's just one example. Google Base is killing price comparison sites as well as stores all over the net.

[edited by: cien at 3:23 pm (utc) on Jul 16, 2010]


 3:18 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

If your business becomes dependent on Google Serps, make sure you build enough margin in so that you can continue your business with Adwords if your SERPS stop performing.

i think that is the perfect quote as to why something needs to be done. google have us over a barrel.


 3:22 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

But Londrum there are only 10 positions in the Page 1 SERPS. Only ten pages often out of millions can be on page 1. What right does anyone here have to say that their page deserves to be on page 1.

And for everyone who is not on page 1, the 99% of the market, the only way to get eyes on their products is Adwords. It is a reality for them, Adwords or no eyes. So what if some who managed for a period to grace Page 1 are also relegated to the position of the other 99%! Someone else is on page 1 instead and they can reduce their adwords spend for a period.

There are only 10 positions on page 1!


 3:26 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

And if anything needs to be done, perhaps we need another small upstart company to begin with a search engine, virally or by word of mouth promote it and eventually find that it captures enough of the market to be viable.

Can that still happen? or are the entry barriers too high?

Is bing.com enough in the meantime?


 3:28 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

there arent just 10 positions. there are 10 positions for each keyword, or each keyword phrase. so there are more than 10 companies (potentially hundreds more) that can get on page 1 for each subject.

but what if you cant get on ANY of those pages, what do you do? you cant rely on other search engines, because they dont deliver enough traffic. but one thing that you can do, like you say, is hand money over to google to get back on page 1 (through AdWords).

this is what the government is looking into, i believe. they want to look under the hood to see whether companies are unfairly being 'demoted'

[edited by: londrum at 3:31 pm (utc) on Jul 16, 2010]


 3:29 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think a new search engine started by a couple of good programmers will gain ground immediately since webmasters, programmers and the like identify more with them (sort of like the Firefox love affair) as opposed to big commercial companies like Yahoo or Bing. Google has become the new Microsoft and their founders will soon lose control of the company I think. There is some article around about that from February.

[edited by: cien at 3:39 pm (utc) on Jul 16, 2010]


 3:34 pm on Jul 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yeah, but if you read all the details I think they still have an argument...
It's too long for me to try and explain right now, but I might be able to come back to it later...

The short version is: Google is not the originator in the markets they are entering right now; they are trying to compete in new markets.

As far as search goes, I think it's interesting and can see it both ways, which is why I'm asking, because there are a large number of search engines and Google did not prevent them from entering the market place and the fact Bing is right there with them IMO when searching (I actually like their results as well or better since I've switched) there may not be an argument for the technological superiority preventing new competitors from entering the market place, because new competitors have entered the market place as little as a year ago.

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