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Lobby group to challenge search engine practices

I dont think they will get far



10:37 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The group will represent individuals' complaints, but the main aim is to campaign on general issues. According to Bolger, these include the 'spiralling cost of pay-per-click' listings, search engines' 'refusal' to deal with queries from sites about listings disappearing, and their allegedly removing sites' algorithmic listings then asking them to buy paid-for listings.


Is the spiralling cost simply the real world. If it was not then surely we could all afford prime time TV ads. Demand drives the price. It is not a charity!


10:10 am on Jun 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Actually thinking about it, Google does have a monoply. It just is not with the users. There is minimal cost to the users to switch engines (unlike the time required to learn just the basics of a new OS for most users, as anyone here who does tech support for friends and family will know)

Google's monoply is over the participation of web sites in its index. Yes, along with other SEs, Google benefits from indexing the content of others. However on the whole this is symbiotic, with the sites receiving traffic in return (or at least the potential of trafic - it may be a dire site :> ). Where the monopoly comes in is; who can afford not to allow Google to spider their site when they might be responsible for 85% of traffic. On the whole, the sites that can afford to block Google won't harm Google and the sites that could harm Google would be greatly harmed by blocking Google. While Google holds such a large share of searches the only way to manage an effective refusal of cooperation is an organised boycott.

I still think that this group won't have sufficient power for that though.


9:45 pm on Jun 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

google holds the market share that it does, not because of any fault of their own. the companies that use the google/odp serps do so because google's algo was superior, and the cost of running a search technology team seemed stupid to share holders as the market started to spiral downward.

afterall, why would aol and yahoo want to invest in search technology, and the headache that goes with it, when they could use someone else's search technology, and just sell advertising; cutting costs and maximizing revenue...it's the (corporate) american way.

far too many people spend FAR too much time worrying about google, and too little making sure that their sites are relevant in msn, looksmart, etc etc etc.

i was also quoted poorly by someone earlier, but i don't even feel like finding it. i will say that; if you build your business based on someone else's, and you do not have a strategic alliance or any kind of a partnership with them, then you are doomed to fail when their business changes, and you have entrenched yourself so heavily into the way they 'used' to do things, that you cannot keep up.

search engines provide free money to people. i'll bet that we work a lot less than the people within the googleplex, and make a lot more money on an individual basis. it's pretty sickening, really. so, let's all sit back while google cries us a river.

once msn is imbedding in windows os, google will lose a lot of the market. if yahoo makes a move, or if the rebounding economy inspires anyone to make a GOOD search technology effort, google stands to lose.

right now, i think that they're the most technically sophisticated search technologists and engineers working on and with the internet (THE WHOLE INTERNET). do they make mistakes? yes. is anybody out there really able to compete? not yet.

oh, and i wonder, paddy...are your 500,000 number one rankings purely based on your own search engine results? because, of the several thousand keys that i compete for, and the thousands of others that friends are targeting, i doubt that you are anywhere on google or msn. of course, these are money making keys, and not 'knitting grannies'.

i believe that the animosity towards google is totally misdirected. search purists should just use the odp. google is a computer program (well, sort of), and, imho, is balancing information and commercialization as best as can be expected.

there are two things that will kill google: an IPO or better search technology.


5:21 pm on Jun 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Here's the reason I feel this lobby is basically a chicken little situation. This is a free market society, and the internet has so far proven to be the epitome of what a free market is. With so many diverse people having access to the marketplace, demand, or more acurately, meeting demand defines everything.

In the case of search technology, we have two demands: users who want to find relevant information, and businesses (or organizations) who want to find these users (or customers to be exact.) Search engines need to meet the demand of both of these elements or they are operating at only half efficiency or worse. If you've noticed, all of these PPC services utilize methods of working towards better relevancy whether by human review, or analyzing the habits of users interacting with the ads, as in AdWords. If they took a highest bidder only approach then the search would quickly become useless to users and the search engine would fail to succeed. They know this, it's essential to their business model, and it's the primary reason why this lobby group is totally pointless. Google's PPC will actually give a higher listing to an ad which has proven to be of more interest to users even if it is bidding LOWER than other advertisers. Overture can be a real bear sometimes to get keywords approved if your content is not very relevant to your submitted keywords. I sometimes get denied for words which I feel are relevant. Your fears are unfounded and not based on anything presently occuring or even in danger of occurring.

A free market operates best when it is free, laissez-faire, and lobbying for government interaction and regulation is simply going to wreck the whole process and economics of the internet search market. It will only lead to higher expenses for search engines which will mean either subscription services for the end user or horrible service because these companies can't fund themselves. In case you haven't noticed, everything in history that regulation has touched has always resulted in additional costs being passed on to the consumer. These lobbying efforts only possible effect can be hurtful to the end users, whose behalf you are purporting to by lobbying on.


7:16 am on Jul 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Couldn't agree more. And if business feels that search engines hold all the cards and business is forced into spiralling costs one of the great benefits of a free market is that businesses can join together and go elsewhere, or even create their own rival search engine. Look, one of the basic functions of the Lobby Group will be to represent members when for instance they disappear from the natural results in a search engine. We will be demanding that the search engine supply an answer. The current situation where they do not answer is not in my view acceptable. They have a responsibility to act responsibly. No longer can they say, we are a "not for profit" organisation and cannot afford the customer service costs of answering these queries.


5:40 pm on Jul 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

How can you demand anything of a service that you don't pay for? They're doing you a huge favor just by even allowing you to submit your site for spidering. They have terms of usage that cover themselves. You have no guarantees, and you deserve none for relying so much on something you a) do not control, and b) you do not pay for.

You're not doing so hot in Google? Fine, pay for AdWords, make a relevant ad tile, pick good keywords, and there you are. Google is under no obligation to do anything for you for free. What's next? Are you going to lobby against people with a page with links to their favorite sites when they remove you because they don't like your site anymore? If someone gave you a free billboard on the side of the highway, then took it away a few weeks later, you think you the right to demand an explanation? That's just silly, pay up like you have to in any other advertising medium, otherwise do a better job of making relevant content to appear in the Google free listings. Plenty of other people manage to do it, and so can you if you work at it. There is no free lunch.

Honestly, I don't think you're thinking. What else is a lobby group for than to lobby against laws, or bring a class action suit. How exactly would you DEMAND an explanation from Google? How can you tell me you agree with a free market economy in the same post that you suggest people should lobby for Google to be forced to provide explanations for anything they do with their own search engine that you aren't paying a dime to be in? The logic is just not there. The only thing we can take from this lobby group's intention is to force government control over a service that a company is not even selling! You've got the wrong country, wrong era, and wrong idea to be trying this stuff in.


9:05 am on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member heini is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

>wrong country, wrong era, and wrong idea

Lobby groups are, like it or not, a well established part of all western countries, I believe in the US they might have even more influence than elsewhere.

I'm quite positive at some point there will be some regulations for websearch, for the better or the worse. The participants in that field will all see that their interests are not neglected in the process. One of the parties involved already has started to take it up against the engines: the consumers/users through the FTC.

>a service that you don't pay for? They're doing you a huge favor

Well, that goes both ways, right? Last I looked the websearch market was said to be the hottest market on the web. Google, Overture, Yahoo...it's a billion dollar market. Did they pay you? Where would they be without your content and your advertizing dollars?


9:37 am on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well I think you are wrong and you are misunderstanding the whole basis of existence of these search engines in the first place. Certainly your arguments would have applied when google was simply a free to use, free to submit to search engine. The fact is that it no longer is and the question is were web site owners misled when they allowed google (or any other search engine) to index their site and replicate all of their copyrighted content on those search engines' sites. I think you will find that many people will say yes.


1:47 pm on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

You are not a) required to submit to Google, b) required to pay to submit to Google, c) can keep Google from indexing your site by user robot.txt files or meta tags.

Google AdWords are seperate from the Google index, as is the Google Directory (aka DMOZ). Google's main results are still a free search engine that requires nothing of its participants, except maybe they don't pitch a fit when things don't go their way or they get clipped for breaking the usage terms.

You're lumping two seperate services together, trying to claim a conspiracy, and then try to build political muscle to lean on a respectable company when your SEO efforts aren't up to snuff. It's the way the game is played, some people do well, some people don't. I know the "New American Way" is to sue when you smoke your helath away, eat yourself into obesity or your business efforts fail due to your own ineptitude, but it's a twisted departure from personal responsibility that you should be ashamed of furthering.

As to PACs and other special interest groups, without turning this into a political debate (which it essentially is), they are an ugly issue that needs to be dealt with. Sure they're a reality in America, but so is rape, murder and lowered Sentras without mufflers and "High Performance" written in gothic letters across their windshields, but that doesn't make them a good thing, now does it?


5:01 pm on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

here, here! I'm glad to see that some type of policing is going on. Over the past two years I have made numerous complaints to different engines on their charging practices, and have found their answers back to be
less than truthful after looking at tracking url's and log files.


5:54 pm on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Going back to the initial post in this message:

"The group will represent individuals' complaints, but the main aim is to campaign on general issues. According to Bolger, these include the 'spiralling cost of pay-per-click' listings, search engines' 'refusal' to deal with queries from sites about listings disappearing, and their allegedly removing sites' algorithmic listings then asking them to buy paid-for listings. "

1) Spiralling costs of PPC are driven by the market. Your bid amounts are set by how much you are willing to spend. If your main keywords are going for an amount higher than you're willing to spend, then you have your competitors to blame (or yourself for having an under-funded ad budget.) Bids are set by demand and the market, not the PPC service.

2) Search engines must receive thousands of these "Where's my site" emails a day (just ask Google Guy), it would take them so many man-hours and expense to review and answer each one, or even a small percentage of each one that it's absurd to ask them to do that. I know for a fact that requests are answered, I've have seen several examples of it on these boards. They do what they can, but that's also why they post the guidelines for you to review your site with. 9 times out of 10 you are doing something wrong.

3) This claim of listings being dropped and then being asked to pay for the PPC, give me a break. It's more like you used bad SEO for ultra-competitive terms, and when you complain about it and get an answer (which it is being claimed doesn't happen) the solution you are being presented is to try using PPCs to gain an advantage. It's a common concept among marketers who aren't hacks. Whining about your competitors browbeating you while you ignore all the right avenues towards profitability is pathetic.

Point is, if you are going after terms like "laptop computers" or "Las Vegas hotels", or anything with stiff competition, well established sites and big ad budgets, you better come to play and put up or shut up. Whimpering that your free ride in the main listings is over because better SEOs have beaten you, and you can't afford to use PPCs? Sorry pal, you lose. Business is business and not everybody wins, just the way it is. So, if you don't have the stomach for it, go niche or sell your stuff on eBay. In any case, whining and crying won't help you.


9:07 pm on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ogletree is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

The point they are making is that it is possible to drop somebody out of the index just to make more moeny not that they are doing it. There is no way to prove it one way or the other. Google should not have got into a business and try to be number one if they are not willing to deal with the costs. It is just another example of another Internet business that had a good idea that would not be profitable to run properly. They have way to much power and the government will eventualy wake up and see it. There really is no good example of what Google is and is doing. They offer a free service that a very large portion of web users use to get information. They are telling us that to the best of their knowledge that these sites are where we would probably want to go. This whole last update could just be a way for them to collect data to see which sites do more advertising when their sites go down. They could then just wack thoses sites when they need more money and nobody would ever know.


9:27 am on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Excellent point ogletree


2:10 pm on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

That's a horrible point! Google should be regulated because it's POSSIBLE they could drop people from listings to force PPC sales, though they haven't done this (a point you just admitted)? I think you have the possiblity to murder someone, so I'm going to just strap you into the chair right now to prevent it (sounds a little Minority Reportish.)

That is the absolute worst logic and reasoning I have ever heard! Are you even listening to yourselves? Honestly, you are making arguing the counterpoint much too easy.

Even if what you say is true, they are completely within their right to do so. They aren't even a public company, so regardless of how popular they are, the content of their site is their business, and their business alone. In case you haven't been paying attention, a court of law has already ruled that Google's directory is a matter of opinion and the content of which is not subject to any legal scrutiny.

This lobby, and the opinions and arguments I've seen supporting it in this thread are examples of liberal socialism at its worst!

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