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Is the writing on the wall for Google? It is in the papers.

 10:33 am on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've just read this, which could well be a sign that the public opinion of Google could be starting to shift:


What do you reckon?



 11:52 am on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just sensationalist reporting, IMO. There's no evidence that Google allows advertisers to distort the organic rankings. I particularly liked this comment: "I suppose advertising pollutes The Guardian as well does it?"


 1:03 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

They probably are referring to the "Brands", "Stores" and "Type" suggestion.I do think that it is distorting the organic rankings.


 1:21 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

The guardian were one of the first to signup to Phorm's OIX platform. They quickly saw the errors of their ways and dropped it.


This is not an issue about ignoring adds / immune to it. This is an issue about controlling what is returned in serps.

The public wants what the public gets.


 1:59 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google's final piece will involve a USB hookup from your head to PC, this way they can REALLY return personalized results to their users.

What't that? Only .5% of users want to see adwords on the home page. Get Out!


 2:03 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Nothing will write Google's existence on the wall until something much better comes along and thoroughly captures the public buzz, the way that Facebook toppled MySpace. Until then, the front dog remains the front dog because the other dogs are lame.



 2:38 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes, the other dogs are lame and they are no better...

While google is throwing all kinds of "suggestions" to take away users from genuine organic results (which by itself is tampered with weightage to brands)..microsoft seem to be suggesting what google should do, by throwing in all these gimmicks first...

while we can't expect anything better from them (microsoft)...they are now succeeding in pulling google along with them...

all puppies eventually turn into lame dogs... :(

I am sure that the organic listing of pages from the same domain (brand) was actually done to support its parent - "brands", stores" and "type" architecture or infrastructure (whatever you may want to call it). Now, i am waiting to see the parent to this...

If you are a small online business seeing erosion in traffic and conversions, it can well be attributed to this "brand" new google engine has all the elements to turn away searchers from what you have online.

Google built its "brand" image online, but unfortunately, it now expects everyone else to build their "brand" image offline before they enter online.


 3:08 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

all puppies eventually turn into lame dogs

It certainly feels that way, given that the so-called "Google killers" that we've seen so far (cuil, blekko, et al) are inadequate by almost any definition. But things do change and given the direction that Google has set for itself, it seems to me that the time is ripe for an upstart David to strike the giant Goliath.

That upstart needs a brilliant algo, a viral interface that everyone wants to use, and a ton of storage. The algo could come from a couple/few brainiacs working in a knotty pine basement; the interface simply needs a cutting edge super-talented designer (and there's plenty of them around); and the storage has never been cheaper (those of us who have been online for more than 15 years will remember when the "new" one gigabyte drives came out at $500 each ~ now you can get a gigabyte at Rite-Aide for $9 to put on your keychain. The current terabyte drives ~ a thousand times more powerful than a GB ~ are only $100, so it's just a matter of time when they'll be $10 and will fit in your pocket!).

So Google is fair game, and as I said, if they continue spoonfeeding people results that do not measure up to what they delivered a few years ago, they stand on shakey ground. And as everyone knows who has ever stood on shakey ground, it's just a matter of time before you fall. The people at AOL, MySpace, AltaVista, Excite, and yes even Yahoo could speak volumes to that simple truth...



 3:30 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

@Reno, the problem is who has the cash to be crawling petabytes of data a day?

Writing an algo is easy, creating an index of the web is f*cking hard. I'm not sure I see an easy solution, unless someone creates a community driven, open source, distributed crawling project. Either that or the EU competition commission forces them to open up their index!

Facebook is the best challenger IMO. They must be building up an incredible data set based on all the open graph / like button implementation.


 3:35 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's not the crawling - that only takes a small slice of Google's computing power. It's all the things you need to do make an algo work, including all the internal meta-data that needs to be created and attached to all that crawled content. And then, there's crunching all that meta-data to give fast search responses.

I also tend to think writing an algo that is difficult to spam is a very big challenge.


 4:10 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes all these things are challenges but they are doable ~ NOT easy, but definitely possible. Who has the money? The venture capitalists, or even a country. It makes perfect sense to me that a country would want to fund this ~ to my way of thinking, the data that Google is accumulating is getting very close to a national security asset. Another country may see it the same way and decide it's worth a ton of money to get the same for themselves. So suppose the Chinese for example decided to dedicate their best programmers to this challenge, and put up the money to make it happen? Suppose they bought storage/servers at the fastest backbone hubs across the earth? IMO, Google would be foolhardy to think that could never happen, so again I say, they'd be wise to pay attention to all the negative press (especially about privacy), and they'd be wise to not shrug off webmaster complaints. Yes it's true, we are not their target audience, but we are the canaries in the coal mine, and right now, the canaries are not happy.


[edited by: Reno at 4:11 pm (utc) on Nov 3, 2010]


 4:11 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)


You have it perfectly. They are bleeding away all of our traffic with this branding push.

It will put a lot of shops out of business.


 4:57 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think the headline says it all...
The danger of allowing an advertising company to control the index of human knowledge is too obvious to ignore

Google has gone from ranking what is out there to molding it for maximum profit. I sincerely believe that the window of opportunity for Google to return to pure indexing is closing quickly. The love affair has limits.

I also tend to think writing an algo that is difficult to spam is a very big challenge.

Tedster, the technical difficulty of creating an algo has nothing to do with how greedy Google has become. Does a search engine REALLY need to profile visitors and funnel them for maximum profit or should they just rank what is out there based on it's own merit? If you live in Montana and look up fishing you can't(without adjusting settings) find a fishing forum anymore because of Google places and you can't find a great fishing website(without adjusting settings) because it's not in Montana... yet you are forced to see local stores that sell fishing products. That's greed, not technical ability.

I used fishing as an example because I personally like reading about where all the best fishing is but I don't want some gizmo taking my lure and shoving it in a fishes mouth for me. I think you can understand that analogy and see where Google has missed the point?


 6:03 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's really sad how this is all turning out.

The cheaters largely won. The only sure way to be at the top today is by buying links. Reinforce the subcategory pages and get those products indexed.

There are items I'm searching for today that I know 10k stores sell with 1-2 results. It's crazy.

Not a direct keyword type deal but search for life insurance information by state. Results I saw three months ago are gone and what's left is a mix of blog, spam, and other sites.

Wow. Not sure what they thought was broken but this has been crazy.


 6:25 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

There's no evidence that Google allows advertisers to distort the organic rankings.

that's only half true. there's one advertiser that definitely does influence the serps -- google. they place all their own stuff at the top.

i think the guardian has a point, sort of. its easy for us webmasters to see all the AdWords and place pins for what they really are. but does the average user? i'm not sure that he distinguishes between ads, place pins and the serps. if it doesn't look like the normal serps then, to him, its an ad.

if you look at the new map pins that have been appearing in the serps, for example, can we really expect the average user to tell which is an ad and which is not? the ads have got a coloured background, sure, so thats an ad, but the new place things have got a big red pin and telephone numbers and golden stars next to them, and they're not ads? they stand out more than the ads! to all the little mums in their kitchens emailing their kids, they dont distinguish between the two. its all just ads ads ads.

for most terms these days the AdWords on the page actually outnumber the serps. a quick search for "new york hotel" will turn up 10 sites... and 11 Adwords. and that's not even including the 18 links to google's own place pages (which are more ads, for google) ON TOP of the serps. if you include the review links as well, then a user has to scroll past 3 TIMES the number of links contained in the entire serps, before he even gets to see the first one.
that is spammy.

imagine if i asked you to devote the top half of every page on your site to ads, would you do it? you'd think i was daft. but that is what google are doing.


 6:50 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Many average Google users who I know have always just assumed that companies could buy a top organic spot.


 9:15 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Slightly off topic but here's my real life experience as a seasoned search engine searcher for more then 10 years. I wanted info on visas as I'm off to Disney World France in a week or so, I wasn't sure if we needed one. I went to my favorite search engine Google and pumped in my search query. I was horrified at the crap results that Google forced upon me. To conclude , I could not find a correct answer to my query so abandoned google for bing. I did the same keyphrase search in bing, and bang got my answer listed number one. I'm not publishing this due to my sites loosing traffic , I'm just reporting my experience as fact. Google needs to wake up to the quality of their results rather than concentrate on gaining increased profits from their search engine. I rest my case.............


 1:30 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Facebook and Twitter are massive now, if either one of them comes up with some half decent search technology they have the user base to launch from.


 4:16 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Kidder true but thats only if google smothers everyone like they are with branding and continue to make a mess of the SERPS. I think I first saw the craziness last month, some solid signs tonight the rumblings may be ending. Almost two weeks end to end..


 5:12 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

"The venture capitalists, or even a country. It makes perfect sense to me that a country would want to fund this ~ to my way of thinking, the data that Google is accumulating is getting very close to a national security asset."

This statement is exactly why I feel "search" will eventually succumb to government regulations...

"Many average Google users who I know have always just assumed that companies could buy a top organic spot."

I have assumed this recently, but do not believe it has occurred yet, it certainly will at some point. Not saying Google will do it, I am not young nor old, but I do have a pretty solid understanding of big money and what occurs with it...


 5:39 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Many average Google users who I know have always just assumed that companies could buy a top organic spot

It's called buying links ;-)


 10:01 pm on Nov 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Many average Google users who I know have always just assumed that companies could buy a top organic spot.

I doubt the average user even understands what we term organic. The bottom line is that the first two or three results on a Google SERP are bought and paid for. They might highlight them and call them "sponsored" but the end result is the same.


 2:09 am on Nov 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm definitely seeing a more anti-Google slant in the local media (Australia) recently, all from prominent news sources (not from News Corp soure, or other media conglomerates at odds with Mountain View). The recent one was about Australian Googlers defecting to Facebook because Google has gotten too corporate recently.

There was also a story about how the recent changes (local map search) would kill off small businesses.

There has also been a couple of stories about potential "Google killers", new search engines that fixes the various flaws in the Google search system (but these stories have always been fairly common).

And of course, constant stories about how Facebook is now bigger than Google and how Google are running scared.

About the only positive Google news stories I've seen were when Instant was first rolled out (which was then followed by some negative reporting of it), and also stories about their Android platform.

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