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Texas opens inquiry into Google search ranking
Google's Internet search rankings under investigation by attorney general
np2003

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4196407 posted 12:54 am on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Google Inc.'s methods for recommending websites are being reviewed by Texas' attorney general in an investigation spurred by complaints that the company has abused its power as the Internet's dominant search engine.

The antitrust inquiry disclosed by Google late Friday is just the latest sign of the intensifying scrutiny facing the company as its enters its adolescence. Since its inception in a Silicon Valley garage 12 years ago, Google has gone from a quirky startup to one of the world's most influential businesses with annual revenue approaching $30 billion.

The review appears to be focused on whether Google is manipulating its search results to stifle competition.

The pecking order of those results can make or break websites because Google's search engine processes about two-thirds of the search requests in the U.S. and handles even more volume in some parts of the world. That dominance means a website ranking high on the first page of Google's results will likely attract more traffic and generate more revenue, either from ads or merchandise sales.

European regulators already have been investigating complaints alleging that Google has been favoring its own services in its results instead of rival websites.

Several lawsuits filed in the U.S. also have alleged Google's search formula is biased. Google believes Abbott is the first state attorney general to open an antitrust review into the issue.


[google.com...]


Will anything come out of this?

I keep hearing about how Google owes webmasters nothing and how we should be grateful that we're getting traffic for free. Well that might be true years ago but these days, Google has become an uncontrolled monopoly, they have basically become the road authority and GPS provider. If Google decides to shutdown your street then no cars will be able to find you on their GPS and you are toast! How many businesses have gone to the bin from Google manipulating the results?

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 1:15 pm (utc) on Sep 4, 2010]
[edit reason] added link [/edit]

 

BillyS

WebmasterWorld Senior Member billys us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4196407 posted 1:37 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is a total waste of taxpayer money and shows the world how ignorant lawmakers are...

encyclo

WebmasterWorld Senior Member encyclo us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4196407 posted 1:41 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google's response: [googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com...]

The Texas Attorney Generalís office asked for information about a number of companies whose cases have been well publicized. Here is some background on them:

  • Foundem - the British price comparison site that is backed by ICOMP, an organization funded largely by Microsoft. (...)
  • SourceTool/TradeComet (...) represented by longtime Microsoft antitrust attorneys
  • myTriggers - Another site represented by Microsoft's antitrust attorneys (...)

  • wildbest

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 2:03 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Microsoft is a monopoly as a OS manufacturer for PCs and is treated like a monopoly. Google is a monopoly as a search engine and should be regulated as a monopoly as well. No doubt at all.

    sobole

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 2:41 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Yep. Been saying this for years.

    BillyS

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member billys us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 2:58 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Microsoft is a monopoly as a OS manufacturer for PCs and is treated like a monopoly. Google is a monopoly as a search engine and should be regulated as a monopoly as well. No doubt at all.


    Someone has to explain that to me, I don't see the comparison at all.

    I always thought the Microsoft issue was choice, and the fact manufacturers sold equipment with Windows installed. I didn't realize my pc came with Google installed.

    Oh, that's right, your search enigne could be set to Google by default.

    I guess you're saying it's as hard to change the default search engine on your browser as it is to change your operating system. Did I get that right?

    kaz

    10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 4:16 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Do we all get equal right to prime shelf space at walmart also?

    olias

    10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 4:54 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    I think part of the problem people have here is with 'monopoly' being such an emotive term. There is nothing inherently wrong with having a monopoly, it is how you use/abuse it.

    There is no real doubt (in my mind) that Google have a monopoly in the search arena, that isn't a problem. That does then mean they have a monopoly in the search advertising arena too. Are they abusing it? I really don't know, but an investigation can't hurt.

    As to the Walmart example, if you've been selling your widgets through Walmart for years and they suddenly decide to move your product to the bottom shelf and put the Walmart branded widgets into the prime shelves then you might feel they are engaging in some anti-competitive behaviour. (Again from personal experience I've never seen a supermarket - in the UK anyway - that puts its own brand products into the prime spots)

    Freedom

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 5:07 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Google search results are irrelevant enough, I can't imagine the carnage government involvment will inflict on them.

    Lapizuli

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 5:22 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    I have a weird way of looking at it.

    I think the difference comes in how you look at the economy. If you think it's essentially the same economy that existed thirty years ago, then yes, Google is just a company.

    But if you look at the economy as shifting to move online, and Google being more like the railroad barons, Ford, Sears, and the rest of those folks who first set up shop as we shifted from a horse-and-buggy based society to a car based society, then what was entrepreneurial at first becomes monopolistic once a full-scale infrastructure needs to be put in place.

    I think there's a new economy, and that the old economy was getting saturated - fiercely competitive, depleted of resources, with only room for a few at the top and a generation-by-generation decrease in opportunity and consumer power. The new economy, though, welcomes competition - and consumption of a different sort.

    But - here's the thing - competition is stifled exactly because it's a new economy. Most who showed up in the American "Wild West" of the 19th century and later the new suburbs of the early to mid 20th did so on the strength of Vanderbilt's trains and Ford's cars and Sears's houses. But these guys were pioneers - they couldn't drive the economy they'd built.

    Today we have people settling the "Wild West" that is the Internet on the strength of Google, Microsoft, and the other handful of private interests in the computing, retail and communications industries. Well, now it's a global shift - virtually everyone is coming online. This means not just individuals but society is at stake. Which is beyond the power that most government and public entities recognize that any one company should have.

    There are political ideas about whether that is right or wrong, but to me it's not about moral decisions to be made, but about social and economic shifts.

    kaz

    10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 5:26 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Regarding walmart (or any major retailer), i wasn't thinking of it in terms of their own products but instead that Walmart has a formula for who gets shelf space and who doesn't. Based on their customers. Just like google.

    Lapizuli

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 5:28 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    I should add that Sears had to stop providing mail-order houses - there was a peak and then a crash in about 1929ish (Great Depression time). Sears continued to exploit other retail endeavers, though, and remained a major player because of its pioneering attitude. And Ford did something far-seeing - as I heard it, he recognized nobody would drive cars - why would they, with no infrastructure in place? - unless he paid his employees enough money to buy the things. He also had a pioneering attitude.

    Google will survive, but I do think that challenging its dominance is inevitable.

    wildbest

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 5:49 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Do we all get equal right to prime shelf space at walmart also?

    kaz, just one example how Google abuses their 'shelf space'...

    If one of our customers search Google for 'our-unique-company-name' what they are served is 'Do you mean [our-competitor-unique-company-name]'? What they try to do is force us use Adwords to bid for 'our-unique-company-name'! Of course, I shall never use AdWords to bid for our company name!

    kaz

    10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 6:11 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Are your names very similar and theirs more popular?

    wildbest

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 6:38 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    No, names are not very similar! In fact, they started their business 6-7 months after we started ours! BTW, how do you measure name similarity?

    Until a year ago we were more popular, if popularity is measured in terms of how many customers do we have. Now, after Google decided to give them more popularity using search activity of our customers, they actually may already be more popular?!

    If that is not abuse of marketing position, I don't know what is it?

    kaz

    10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 7:04 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    BTW, how do you measure name similarity?


    By the number of common words between the two or similar letters and spelling based on the words in the two names. It's not complex.

    Is there any spelling issues that may be a factor in this suggestion made by google?

    I don't see the abuse, unless you think google is familiar with your situation i doubt their actions are intentional to harm your business versus trying to provide the best experience possible to as many of their customers as possible.

    Brett_Tabke

    WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 7:05 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    There have been veiled allegations (many in these very forums) that the Google algo:

    - devalues domains hosting directory sites (editorial link aggregators).
    - devalues domains hosting vertical search engines.

    While at the same time, Google's spiders have had ravenous appetites for those very same sites. eg: they poach links and run.

    The question is if these "devaluations" (if they can be prooved) are intentional actions against a competitor, or valid algo tweaks that increase the quality of Googles product.

    Sooner or later, one of these investigations is going to get a chance to crack open the algo code and have a look for themselves. Or - more likely - sooner or later, one of the dozens of ex-programmers is going to start to talk.

    rbarker

    10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 7:30 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    "Will anything come out of this?"

    Maybe Google will be told to stop providing favorable rankings for their other properties in their search property because the latter is a monopoly. That might force them to advertise like the rest of us. That would open up a lot of space in the serps...

    wildbest

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 7:48 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Is there any spelling issues that may be a factor in this suggestion made by google?

    kaz, our customers don't have trouble spelling our business name! Why does Google think they have?

    Like hundreds of millions they are just too lazy to type full website name on the browser address bar and use Google search box as Bookmarks/Favorites folder.

    Sgt_Kickaxe

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 9:14 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    The Google house of cards is coming unglued by their very efforts to control the worlds data. Ironic, not that an unglued google house of cards wouldn't still be massively profitable.

    I'm also VERY surprised that the new google images setup didn't draw notice here. Clicking on an image no longer leads a visitor to your page, instead your image is used to create an interstitial of sorts. Perhaps that's more theft than anti-trust I guess.

    tedster

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 9:20 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    I'd like to see someone do an investigation that was ONLY about organic search. These actions always pile on the Adwords side of things and that very much muddies the water. Do Adwords separately.

    The Foundem action is classic in that regard. Their earlier "publicity" was a terrible mish-mash of paid and organic, totally blurred.

    tangor

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 9:59 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Agree that "monopoly" is an emotionally charged word. Monopoly (among the many definitions possible) is "controlling access and entry" into any field or endeavor. Google's business methodology does fit in that regard... (philosophical statement, nothing more)

    Elsmarc

    10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 2:02 am on Sep 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Those who can not compete blame Google for their failures. That's the bottom line. Google doesn't owe any person or company a high ranking in their serps for any reason unless the person or company pays for an advertising slot. To the people who have built their business model on being tops in Google's organic search and are failing, it is you who made a bad business decision. You might want to try another business model. The investigation (or what ever it is) is just politics. Nothing more, nothing less.

    badbadmonkey

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 4:04 am on Sep 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Suggesting competitors as a "spelling alternative" is a bit off though init really.

    They p!ss me off with the "searches related to" also, which tend to list direct competitors. I find that Bing on the other hand lists truly related and useful searches.

    Wildbest is right. This sort of behavior is like a protection racket when it constitutes an incentive to engage with Adwords, or particular keywords you would not have otherwise bothered with.

    BillyS

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member billys us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 11:29 am on Sep 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Agree that "monopoly" is an emotionally charged word. Monopoly (among the many definitions possible) is "controlling access and entry" into any field or endeavor. Google's business methodology does fit in that regard... (philosophical statement, nothing more)


    So does every other search engine.

    frontpage

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 1:06 pm on Sep 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Google has publicly admitted prior that it manipulates search results (see the Scientology case) and most recently China.

    cien

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 2:29 pm on Sep 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

    I think the inquiry phase is over. Google is being sued now. [jumpinternetmarketing.com...]

    wildbest

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 5:38 pm on Sep 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Those who can not compete blame Google for their failures. That's the bottom line.

    In fact, those who can not (or do not want to) compete the way Google wants them to compete. Their number is growing though... That's the bottom line!

    Why should I create pseudo content and clutter our website just to please Google? No, thanks. What Google wants me to do just does not add value to our services.

    rros

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 7:16 pm on Sep 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Why should I create pseudo content and clutter our website just to please Google? No, thanks. What Google wants me to do just does not add value to our services.
    Because they refer traffic to you?
    maximillianos

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4196407 posted 7:30 pm on Sep 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Waste of tax payers dollars. Again. Thank you Microsoft.

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