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It's surprising to see Google pushing this onto toolbar users like myself who don't want it. Unlike non-webmaster users, they may not know how to disable it.
Does Google's use of your website exceed what you feel comfortable with?
Fortunatly for me all my site's are dutch, so it doesn't work there... yet!
changing the option in the settings of the specific client isn't something you can do as a webmaster now is it.
Now how long will it take them to put that setting to off by default again?!?
So as according to Google it's OK for them to scrape our sites and add their own affiliate links, I assume that it's OK for us to scrape Google results and add our own links?
* Yes, I know, you can opt out of the Google cache by blocking Google's spiders altogether. Not much of an option.
Google in effect is inserting their adverts on your website - without your permission. Sites relying on people buying stuff or clicking on ads will lose out as Google will be stealing traffic.
Users navigating sites by clicking on text links embedded within pages (everyone) will become confused - is a link really a link - or a google ad? They won't know until they mouse-over / click on it. Hardly helpful.
Recent findings seem to imply that dvd copying tools and file sharing tools can't hide behind "it is the downloaders/users fault" - so why should Google? Its creating a tool that will manipulate website content without website owners permissions and in many (most?) cases without the user really being aware of it.
Google forced an update to their toolbar that activated an autolink button feature by default. What this means is that this button, when activated, will allow Google to place links on your web page to Amazon, among other places.
Does this mean even if I had turned the feature off in the past, it would have been turned back on for me based on this automatic update? (I don't use G the toolbar so I can't test for myself) If this is the case, I would be shocked. Seems quite evil to not only change people's chosen settings, but to do it to turn on a feature as borderline as this...
From a users POV, if the link is always *clearly* defined as a Google link, then this could be a useful option. Plus, this isn't automatic, the user needs to click the "AutoLink" button for it to activate on a page.
But there doesn't seem to be a clear way to change the options (other than the maps) within the toolbar. I always get taken to amazon.com for a ISBN number - why can't I go to B&N, or even amazon.co.uk?
Yes - has this been developed.
Also Google - we in the UK do not pay our licence fee for adverts on the BBC! - There must be a way out of this. And I also pay my hosting company so I do not have unwanted adverts on my site - otherwise we may aswell move to a free host with adverts.
Perhaps it was an error, or perhaps they will use the excuse 'it was in error' (more likely).
This is the best and quickest way make users dump the bar!
Now it is Google trying to peddle business over to some select vendors, tomorrow it could be some smut peddlers or scammers trying to alter/autolink/smartlink my content so as to lead my unsuspecting visitors to their dark allies.
I expect better from Google. I do.
Any suggestions on how do we disable this on our content?
As far as I can see they still have to click the button for the links to appear so its not just attaching links to any text.
I for one won't have the Google toolbar as I'm tired of them pushing the boundries too far.
I've just visited a book web site that reviews all sorts of books and publishers etc.
They link to some book selling site like many of us do but not Amazon. They also publish the book number in plain text so if a user clicks the Autolink feature then its quite easy for the user to be sent to Amazon to buy the book bypassing the original reviewing web site.
This is still a lot of work for a user, to actually remember the Google feature is there and use it all the time. They still have to click the button to make the link then scroll back down to click it.
I doubt this will affect many, but if Google decided to append links to text without the need to click the button then that would be out of order.
I stopped using Google Toolbar a long time ago! only as a developer am I interested to the overall effect it has upon our sites.
I don't like it, but Google is doing legally nothing wrong in my Book (excuse the pun)
If you don't like the features, remove the toolbar
This is the same argument used by spammers, i.e. just delete it.
Google has officially crossed the line. Hey Google, what happened to the do no evil mantra?
At the same time they expend resources figuring out how to turn our pages into "SERPs" that they can monetize for their shareholders.
Is this not hypocracy?
Do no evil...bah!
G is on the road to becoming the Walmart of Search Engines...
From ToolBar FAQ:
How do I use AutoLink?
The AutoLink feature adds links to the page you're viewing if it recognizes certain types of information on the page. For example, AutoLink will link a U.S. street address to a map of that address or the tracking number of a package to a status page for your package. AutoLink also recognizes car VIN numbers and book ISBN numbers.
When AutoLink finds information for which it can provide a link, the icon on the "AutoLink" button of your Toolbar will change to reflect the information AutoLink has found. For example, if AutoLink finds a book's ISBN, the icon will change to a book icon. Click on the "AutoLink" button to create a link on the page, or click on the arrow to the right of the "AutoLink" button and choose a link from the drop-down menu.
Just tried it out - always had it turned off here.
If certain elements appear on the page (eg ISBN numbers), then the autolink item gives you the option to toggle the ISBN number into a link (or select from a list of ISBN numbers on the page via a drop down menu).
This is very non-obtrusive IMO. It is entirely user prompted - even when "switched on".
This isn't exactly Gator. :-/
It's books and maps. So what? Seriously. Good for Google! Enough of you have spammed them with affiliate crap over the years - nice to see them take something back! ;)
Nevertheless, I still want to check PageRank of my sites. Hence, I installed the toolbar in an old Pentium II running Windows 95 SR 2.1, IE 5.0.
So far, I haven't seen the toolbar auto update itself.
[edited by: zafile at 2:56 pm (utc) on Aug. 8, 2005]
Google in effect is inserting their adverts on your website - without your permission.
While I am just as surprised (and saddened) by this as anyone, I have a hard time agreeing with some of the statements I'm seeing thrown around here in response.
Chief among my objections to what has been said is this: Google is not touching anyone's websites. The copy on your server remains untouched. Anyone who visits your site and does not have the Google Toolbar installed still sees exactly what they would have seen. And even that is already interpreted by their own choice of browser -- if they use Lynx or something else, what they see will already be different than what you had in mind when you wrote the HTML code.
A user's (informed) decision to display your content in a different way is perfectly allowable.
This parallels discussions happening in many other areas: Tivo's skipping commercials, DVD content-editing services like Clearplay (which was just approved by Congress), and so forth.
Google's failure to inform is a problem. But the actual behavior of the tool is fine.
Seriously, how can somebody not be angry about this? Itīs stealing affiliate comissions, nothing else. Just how long do you think itīll take until this feature will be activated without pressing a button each time? Itīs just one little step to display Adsense ads like this - without sharing the revenue with webmasters.
I have a hard time understanding those "Go, good little Google" post. Google is in no way better or less "evil" than Microsoft or any other larger company - if they can get away with a new way to make money, they will. If it becomes a PR desaster, theyīll back off. These decisions are surely not made on a moral basis.
"Google's failure to inform is a problem. But the actual behavior of the tool is fine."
Think of a Google browser. Or operating system. Think where this path leads.
I'm sorry, I refuse to raise my pitchfork in anger on the principle of something they may do in the future. As it stands, the feature is non offensive - it's benign. You have to do stuff in order to use it.
And let's not forget we're talking Amazon affiliates here.
There's a huge outcry about loss of income, but:
a) How many of those people are making a sizable amount from Amazon?
b) How many of the visitors to those sites use Google Toolbar?
c) How mant of those will activate the feature and use it?
d) What percentage of them would have purchased and earned you commission?
There's some huge perceived injustice here - but the commerical reality is that this will have bugger all effect on anyone's bottom line.
I'd be willing to bet good money on the fact that a large percentage of Toolbar users are savvy enough to recognise affiliate links and know what it means to Google, the website owner and Amazon.
The only remaining issue is that click through rates may drive traffic away from your site that would have otherwise earned you income. But can anyone seriously suggest that the % of people who will leave and would have otherwise earned you money is going to be so significant?
You're all capable of optimising for keywords, so then just unoptimise for autolink trigger words - addresses, ISBN's, etc. I would view that as a legitimate time expenditure to retain visitors on my site.
Such outcry from the largest collection of spammers on the web! Somewhere, Irony is turning in it's grave. :P
Hey everybody, get that guy!
(mob turns in direction of marketing_guy)
All valid points. While I can't speak for others, in my case I feel it's an intrusion to modify my web page that in some cases were lovingly handcrafted.
[edited by: martinibuster at 3:24 pm (utc) on Aug. 8, 2005]