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Google is committed to NOT being a Search Engine

 5:59 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Many members here have observed that Google is no longer a traditional search engine. This is now an established fact. Google does not intend to remain a search engine:

Recently, Matt Cutts delivered the opening keynote for SES San Francisco (August 2012) where he clearly mentioned that one of the key focuses for Google is to move away from being a search engine and focus on becoming a knowledge engine. Google is so committed to this that Google's Search Quality team has been renamed to Google's Knowledge Team.


This would be a major shift in what we know as the web. How to get found by new visitors would evolve in a big way. Those who depend on search traffic should be paying close attention to every step along this path because it WILL impact our own business models.

As one member said in our Next Generation SEO [webmasterworld.com] discussion, "Adapt or Die".



 7:25 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

What if people don't want a knowledge engine? What if people start to leave google in droves because the people want a search engine? What will google do then? I know, they will follow the money of course.

Google is more like a traditional portal these days anyway. Gone a long time ago went the naive simplicity of relevant results in an uncluttered environment.

If google feel they need to reinvent themselves, how about they ditch all the clutter and start to serve relevant results again.


 8:20 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't want a knowledge engine. I want a search engine that I can use to improve my own knowledge and to find information that is relevant to what I need.

I need a search engine that allows me to dictate the terms of the search using operators like "must include" and filter by time etc. I don;t want a search engine to decide what I want to see. We people in the business should be driving the move to get people to move away from any search engine that is not providing the best search results as opposed to those that are the most profitable. Google is going that way.


 8:38 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

More money in being a knowledge engine. The users only ever see Google's own native ads which give them 100% of the ad revenue. The users don't go to those pesky sites that make Google only part of the revenue.

If Google doesn't want users to leave their own site there is little we can do as SEO's and webmasters to encourage them. The only strategy open to us as webmasters is to make sure they don't need Google to find us. I think Google is playing a very dangerous game that could make them lots of money initially but then come back and bite them on the proverbial.


 9:18 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Once again, google knows what we want better than we do.


 9:18 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Is this then the right time for a new/alternate search engine to replace Google?

Its been changing rules set by itself and at times penalizing webmasters who followed what they interpreted of the rules (sometimes wrong as the rules in itself left lots of room for the same.)

Most of the users visiting google do so for search primarily and then its other services too.

By trying to get over its main identity as a search engine is google also hinting towards getting off the "Do No Evil" bandwagon?

I personally feel its getting more and more pushy in terms of being the middle-man/agent in every sale that small/mom & dad sites make.


 11:09 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I really don't see how Google would become a "knowledge engine" when they don't have ANY "knowledge"?!? They have exactly zero in-house content, everything they use is the work of somebody else.

There is only so far they can go with other people/companies content. I am certainly a drop in the ocean, but if Google decides to start using my own content in a matter that robs me of visitors, I would do everything in my power to stop Google from ever seeing a word of my website. Internet entities right now are putting up with Google's theft only because there is a hope that they will be compensated in visitors, but once Google starts to shut that pipeline down...

If this is their goal, however, I can only applaud and encourage them. It will only speed up their demise, which is long overdue, and we will finally get some fragmentation and competition.

Unfortunately, I believe that what they mean by "knowledge engine" is the business strategy to slowly remove any "trade websites" from the organic results and fill the first page with "information" or "knowledge" websites - wikipedia, yelp, ehow, etc. By doing this they provide organic results to non-converting visitors, while those searching to buy/use a product or service will have to click on the ads.

I already gave a clear example of how this strategy is beginning to shape up here: [webmasterworld.com...]
In that example you can see how the "trade websites", which any normal person would expect to see in the first page for that search, are not there, instead yelp and citysearch dominate the organic results, while 10 perfectly targeted ads supplement the "knowledge websites" that were returned in the organic results.

For those not convinced, another example is that when I search for "buy insurance in MyState" - the top 3 results are .gov pages and a total of 5 results in the first page are local government pages, even though they don't sell insurance.

Penguin, Panda, EMDs, trusted sources - these are all recent attempts by Google to weed out the "trade websites" and give the "knowledge websites" a dominant position in the organic results.

And Google will make a lot of money before people being to realize that what they are doing when "googling" is simply searching ads.

brotherhood of LAN

 11:16 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

>when they don't have ANY "knowledge"

They have plenty open source content to work with, but fair enough they do not 'own' a lot of the content they can infer things from, but that's always been the nature of search engines (or whatever they may call themselves).

The inferring of knowledge is pretty much what we all do anyway, nothing is certain to be fair. We just take in and use information with varying degrees of trust, and hopefully we can take that information and use it in a thoughtful way.

> business strategy

Anyone is welcome to prevent Google or any other bot from visiting their site, and in Google's case, the taking of your content. There's been plenty disgruntlement about Google's ethos but that's probably better localised to its own threads.

>knowledge engine

It just makes sense for them to approach things this way. The world isn't a bag of words.


 11:33 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

but that's always been the nature of search engines

I disagree. The nature of a search engine has NEVER been about providing content. There is a reason why Google's home page is empty - that's all they have.
What you are describing is often referred to as "content scraper".

Anyone is welcome to prevent Google or any other bot from visiting their site, and in Google's case, the taking of your content.

Right now google is using two lines full of mumbo-jumbo right under a big fat link to my website. I can live with that and so do many others. But if tomorrow Google decided to simply post my content on their page as the returned result - you better believe people won't put up with it for long.

Again, I would be more than happy, I would be ecstatic, if this is the direction Google is taking. They have a long, long record of being a failure in anything but being a traditional search engine (and even that has been called into question by more and more people).


 11:42 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google is buying up knowledge all the time (eg Frommers). "Knowledge" sites are cheap for Google. Won't be long before they have "knowledge" in every niche. Add that to the open source stuff and yeah Google becoming a knowledge engine is closer than we think.

A good example of this is one "knowledge" area they have dominated for a long time and this is maps. Before Google maps there were lots of sites doing quite well providing maps and mapping information. Google came along and did it better and now dominate.

They can do this in every niche if they want. Not many people complain about Google maps because it is such a good product. But I bet there are some webmasters out there that still need sleeping pills to chase away the bad dreams they have from the day that Google maps was released.


 12:06 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

All knowledge to be controlled by Google.

All web sales to come via a Google price comparison Engine.

All small sites to be crushed and replaced by the 'big brands'.

This isn't the Internet as any of us ever envisioned it. Why aren't the media exposing this? Too frightened of Big Brother perhaps?


 12:12 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google is committed to monetizing knowledge. I don't know how all that will play out for the actual creators of the content.

I just saw a piece come through where a content creator (political site) was getting a bad rash because the political campaigns were no longer buying ads directly from him but going through the google network middleman. With google in the middle of the buy the publisher was only getting 20% of his normal revenue. The publisher further stated that those rates are not sustainable and has blocked the campaigns from advertising (indirectly via google) on his property. Obviously he is not happy with how this is playing out. Can "knowledge" be deeply discounted in order to enrich google or will the creators simply fold or move on?

As someone mentioned here, google has had financial success with only ONE product, that being web search, tinkering with that formula may not work out for them. There is an assumption in the OP that there would be instant buy-in on this concept, actually promoting actionable ideas to participate in the scheme, the content creators, the knowledge providers might just be in the "not so fast" mind set.

[edited by: TypicalSurfer at 12:31 pm (utc) on Oct 5, 2012]


 12:21 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I disagree. The nature of a search engine has NEVER been about providing content. There is a reason why Google's home page is empty - that's all they have. What you are describing is often referred to as "content scraper".

I 100% agree with this statement. A proper search engine should allow people to search using operators that will find the specific results that they need. Google decided this is not a good business model so they prevent or discourage this in favour of results that will improve their bottom line.

There is no way that this can right. Page and Brin should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen to what was once a cutting edge product.

[edited by: BeeDeeDubbleU at 12:22 pm (utc) on Oct 5, 2012]


 12:22 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

A good example of this is one "knowledge" area they have dominated for a long time and this is maps.

I agree. But, don't forget that maps is their maps, they did not simply use MapQuest's or whatever. Maps, just like Android or any other Google venture, is still funded by the search engine. If they change the model of the search engine and is not a success - all those ventures will be gone, because they are not self sufficient. They are good - as long as they are free.

Google is the only company I can think of that would waste billions of dollars on products with no strategy to recoup their investment. They can do this only because of the waterfall of money coming from the search engine. They have absolutely no business sense beyond adwords, i.e. the search engine. And now that they are publicly listed - all it takes is one mistake with the search engine and they'd be gone. People on WallStreet will put up with Google's shenanigans as long as they keep bringing more and more money from adwords. You show them that you are moving away from tried and proven money machine to something unknown - forget about it.

In addition - you can't buy your way into it. For all the attempts and purchases they've made - Google will never be a player in social networking, for example. Just because you own Frommer's, it doesn't mean people want the knowledge Frommer's has to offer.

I see Google doing it, I just know it will be a failure. It will convert google from a search engine into just another portal. I am certainly looking forward to it. Actually, the more I think about Google going in that direction, the happier I get :)

[edited by: atlrus at 12:38 pm (utc) on Oct 5, 2012]


 12:33 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I agree. But, don't forget that maps is their maps, they did not simply use MapQuest's or whatever.

Google has always used 3rd party providers in their map product. They've bolted on a few goodies (street view) but are still reliant on others for the lions share of the product.


 12:42 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google has always used 3rd party providers in their map product. They've bolted on a few goodies (street view) but are still reliant on others for the lions share of the product

Of course, I never assumed that they sent their own satellite into space and charted their own maps. But they are paying for it, while getting nothing in return. They can keep doing this for as long as there is money coming from somewhere else. If people stop using Google The Search Engine they will stop using anything else google, I guarantee you that. There is not one Google product that makes me think "I would pay for that!".

[edited by: atlrus at 12:52 pm (utc) on Oct 5, 2012]


 12:44 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

The Google Search Engine is a Hen that lays Golden Eggs by way of its adwords program. It is now a matter to be seen whether they get selfish.

They surely cannot forget where most of their money is coming from in the shape of payments for ads running on their properties, but they just might be forgetting the reason that most of the traffic that comes to their website(s) ... to search!

Martin Ice Web

 12:48 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

knowledge search != ecom search => thats why we see small business out of index, bigger business would have to much power when they get wipped out.
Soon there is a google-ecom-search ( with payment for webmasters ) and a search with no ecom sites.


 1:01 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

i remember when AOL bought a great movie studio, then people also anounced with sonorous tone that this was the shape of things to come

Even then i fumed at how imaginary money was being used to pay for tangible assets

We may not be able to alter the doings of the great powers of our time, but i am increasing furious at the stuning lack intellectual and moral(even if i say so my self)fibre i see amongst our opinion leaders

Shall we hasten to apply Ketchup and onions to our fleshy flanks to make us tasty morsels for the ever hungry master of the web?

There will be no place in googles new world fr the majority here, not even those who think they have an inside line, for if there was a place , then you would be there now


 1:10 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yeah scooterdude, the compliant meme is sickly sweet. I see google big picture as a global governance model, it can only exist with the consent of the ruled. How long that consent is freely given remains to be seen.


 1:12 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Of course, I never assumed that they sent their own satellite into space and charted their own maps. But they are paying for it, while getting nothing in return.
I think they are getting lots in return. Google Maps is just another sandwich board for ads.

 2:47 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think people are rather blind? No?

Knowledge engine? Okay.

Search NFL scores, golf leaderboard, movie times, conversions, my ip, etc.

You don't need to leave Google. You don't need the websites, you just need Google.

On one hand you can question how they got that "knowledge" like the sports scores and did that knowledge cost money. As in are there deals with say the PGA that they get paid as compensation for the lost traffic. I know that personally I didn't need a website, I just read the information on Google. They are even excellent enough to have a "see more" link which expands the leaderboard so I could see where Tiger was at on the leaderboard. For me it was great. I'm sure the public would find this fantastic also. The big sites like the NFL or ESPN. Do you think they are sitting around and discussing a 10% drop in traffic?

If that's a knowledge engine then it's here. There is more of that now than a year ago and in the next year, I'm sure there will be more than this year.

It's possible that Google can hire it's own writers etc who can input this information rather than taking it and listing it. I think the newspapers were at one time having issues with Google? That's was nothing compared to what's really possible here.

You could ask what search queries are safe. That might be one strategy moving forward. It also might be a strategy to realize that what you have now is just a couple years short of being worthless. Sell now?

Again, I'm asking if that behavior is "knowledge" and the future. Learn the information from your site, paste it on yours, and therefore removing the middle man, you. Ouch!


 3:03 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's possible that Google can hire it's own writers etc who can input this information rather than taking it and listing it

They don't need to, they have ehow..( by proxy ) and ehow has your content via it's auth^^^^scrapers..and they now have ( again by proxy ) pinterest ..and ehow's "spark"..why "hire" when you can "outsource" with "plausible deniability"..


 3:18 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

They don't need to, they have ehow

and wikipedia, or freebase which is to wikipedia as chrome is to firefox.

Google's been done with us for a while now, most of us just didn't know it.


 3:28 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ MrSavage

We have all observed those snippets, they have existed for quite a while.

For example, the NFL scores. I don't know whether they are paid for or simply negotiated with NFL. But you can get those at any sports website, heck, you can get them at Yahoo :) you don't have to go to google and search for nfl scores. If this is the kind of "knowledge" they refer to - Meh! I have no problem with this type of "knowledge". And even if google wants to pay NFL and tries to beat ESPN as the top football portal - more power to them. They have every right to compete in whatever they want, as long as they follow the rules like everyone else. They will fail miserably - I remember when their Nexus came out - they didn't even have customer support set up, lol.

The problem will be if Google decides to show an actual recap of the game or if you search for "Pats Bills preview" - to show someone's preview of the game, much in a way that they now use Wiki snippets on the right of the results. Without paying for it, but simply stealing it because for some reason they feel they are entitled to use it.

Again - I see no issue with Google trying to move into content delivery. As long as they follow the rules we all do and don't try to scrape it.


 4:22 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google trying to move into content delivery

Please don't give them more ideas. Probably, they read each and every post written here with great interest.


 4:30 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

How complicit is Wikipedia in all this? They get #1 rankings, and now Google shows information from them on their page. In some cases, the information that Google is showing was information that I compiled on my website - Wikipedia used my site as a trusted source (with a worthless link since it is nofollow) and now that information appears on Google - and Google has penalized my site for some reason, either "thinness" i.e. they don't think it's a trusted resource, or maybe because of a link profile that they don't believe is legitimate (even though it is).


 4:47 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google is simply following the crowd moving from desktop to mobile devices. Folks no longer want to search, they simply want answers.

And there's no reason for any web person to be surprised of Google's move, it told us where it was going two years ago:

Google Instant Launch Event [youtube.com]

Introducing Google Instant [youtube.com]

I consider the Google Instant launch the most important Google event since the launch of Google itself. I've actually watched the first video five or six times since just to remind myself of where G is heading. If you haven't watched both you owe it to yourself to do so.

And it's not just Google. Where do you think Apple is headed with Siri?


 4:47 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Whether this is right, wrong or indifferent, the fact is human nature says that nobody out there is going to hear my complaining about what's right or what's fair or what is injustice. It's really only those who get affected that care. In other words, if sites and revenues get crushed in the name of knowledge and not search, nobody will actually really care. I've seen it here and anywhere else. People don't care unless they are in your shoes. Then suddenly reality hits. Can't change that.

Whether this is doomsday today or tomorrow, it sounds like being realistic is key. Expecting organic traffic may be one of those unrealistic expectations. That's my approach now. Doomsday for me personally has arrived. I know what to avoid now. Dang if I had only listened to netmeg earlier!


 5:01 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Search on mobile ( without even getting into Siri and Google's own offering that pre-dates Siri) is a whole different animal and layout ..
Even on a 480x800 screen phone..G SERPs mostly consist of just 3 text results..or 1 text result with 3 images ( laid out as two side by side with another one below )..there are some more results per page, but they are "below the fold" and thus "off screen" ..people are lazy ..they don't scroll SERPs..

Although some of them do scroll some webpages..

On mobile phone search..if you are not in the top 3 spots..or if the result has images at number 2 and you are not at #1..

You may as well be dead..and sending 404s..

Then there is the matter of what your site behaves like when / if you do get "the visitor"..

But the most important is to be in top 3 on SERPs or #1 and with an image thumbnail leading to your site..

Plus like jimbeetle says ..they are not there to read your college thesis..they want answers..short, clear, and images..videos..not 2000 words of copy..

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