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Is this brand new? Or have I just been missing it. I can be a little slow sometimes.
was it a bug or a TEST RUN ?
In Washington they call it a "trial balloon." You arrange the "abort" button in advance in case the major media gets excited, suggesting that this is one balloon that won't fly at this time. You let it get shot down.
Next time, conditions may be better.
msgraph: "..a beta that leaked out by accident..."
We shouldnt at all be assuming that "pure" Google results will appear in AOL when it starts. As i said before in the thread last week when the AOL/Google deal was announced, I didnt see anything in the official announcement other than that AOL will be using Google's search technology. The belief that AOL will be using actual content (listings) did become validated by later statements by several parties, but if you look at them carefully, they are still fairly obtuse.
My strong gut feel is that AOL Google listings will look quite different to Google pure. Maybe a filtered set? Mixed up with Adwords (OK that seems sensible now thx 4crests!). Minus some sites or categories that are competitive to AOL interests (eg: news, entertainment, internet)? Mixed up with AOL's own sponsored listings?
Point is we dont know. The only thing for sure to my mind is that AOL Google delivered content will NOT be the pure Google database. Sort like the way Inktomi partners use the Ink database, but probably more dramatic!
The only thing for sure to my mind is that AOL Google delivered content will NOT be the pure Google database.
High drama for those of us who follow Google closely. If AOL does what you suggest, Google apart from AOL cannot be far behind. There is no scenario in which AOL's Google is ad-infested, and non-AOL Google is pure. It just wouldn't work; the contract is dead.
So it doesn't really matter whether Google is trying to do this directly, or whether this is how AOL will absorb Google's data.
The most likely scenario is that Google sold out to AOL by failing to insist on "purity," and now they're trying to get us in a frame of mind where we won't scream bloody murder when it finally happens.
I think what happened over the last few hours, whether it was a "bug" from a pre-release beta or a trial balloon, is what we're going to see farther down the road with both AOL and Google.
Purity is history at Google. Get your T-shirt from BBC or FAST or Teoma or somewhere.
<joking>Whoever is on 24-7 GoogleGuy duty gets a two-way pager. If they are eating dinner, or (horrors!) not at work, they can still reply immediately to answer questions.</joking>
I think that message should be gone pretty soon, if not already.
Check out BBC's search engine, there's no Adwords on there so they have some flexibility as to what they provide on other engines. I'm guessing that this was a test run for results that are not mean't to show on Google, but mean't to show on other SE's etc in the future.
Google have always said they'd stay away from paid placement - but which engine. They'd probably keep creditability if they keep www.google.com clean.
Just my thoughts...
The google brand IS non commercial results, that sets them apart from others. Once they lose that brand they lose enormous amount of brand equity, perhaps unrecoverable without a major re-branding exercise.
But I do agree that the search engine landcape has almost finished the transition to a demarcation between a commercial and non commercial web. If you are selling something on the Web, you must pay by PPC, Adwords, advertising etc etc. If your content is non commercial or inormational you need not pay (but you can if you want!).
Further evidence for this is Google's algo developments that is mainly targeted at cashed up advertising or commercial sites that have enough money to set up multiple domains, and/or spend a LOT of time and money on optimization to "artificially" increase Page Rank by crosslinking, and structured reciprocal linking programs. Because is these cases, why would people WANT to link to a commercial or an advertisment website? They generally only want to link to non-competitive or information sites. Page Rank would work if this occured naturally, so to defend the efficay of PageRank, Google must find ways to reduce these "artifical" methods.
More evidence is Looksmarts recent statements that they will be leaving "some" websites in to "ensure relevance" of SERPS. The reason is simple. Very few people go to the Web to find advertising. They go to find information, and if commercial entities want to piggy back on that by having paid ads through SE's or advertising thats fine and good, and necessary. But make informational sites invisible by burying them under commercials, and people just won't come!
Jaze, that's my take too. Littleman's reply did suggest to me that the model may not work for AOL however. What they do not want to do is have an AOLgle that is full with ads, with google nuggets in the middle. In that case, people will just learn to go straight to Google as they did from Yahoo. Im assuming AOL's main strategy with the google partnership is to keep their people on AOL, so somehow the deal must involve ways for them NOT to lose people to Google, and indeed keep them on AOL for longer and more often. Im not suggesting that the Googleised AOL will be ONLY Google+ads, but also some value-added model such as we are seeing developing at the BBC - (using a commercial model of course!)
PS: Lets not get hung up on AOL only. Marcia has also suggested that it could have pointers for the Yahoo renewal - very interesting take - at the end of this thread..
In fact I can't see it now 09.15 am Europe time.
I tried some searches using Anonymizer too; I think that Google is the smartest engine: in fact using Anonymizer I still get the Italian version of Google!
The google brand IS non commercial results, that sets them apart from others.
That might have been the brand of a small college project the grew out of control, but it is not the brand of a large, public, for-profit corporation. There is no financial future in being the site on the web that attracts millions of anti-commercialism users searching for free information.
That is why the partner distribution system is so crtical to their success. In order to sell advertising, you need to put those ads in front of people who will actually click and buy. On the web, those types of people hang out at AOL, MSN and Yahoo.
Down the road, all partner sites will be full of paid ads that will be inserted in as many places as the partner will allow.
It's already happening on Earthlink. Seven ads load on each page. Only 5 are marked as being sponsored. Of course, two unmarked ads in the upper right-hand corner aren't a huge betrayal of the Google brand. They are just the first of many baby steps to come.
How long did it take AV to plummet once it started blurring relevence and ad? It's a well trodden path to oblivion and it would be a shame if Google embarked upon it. Once on it, it is SOOOO hard to get off again, or at least shake the perception (equally important).
They are playing with fire with ANY extension of advertising. I am sure that they know the reasons themselves for their growth... purity and the perception of it. A little scheme like this would blow a massive hole in it, and is just what some other engines are waiting for.
If it IS something under wraps... Google, you are making a BIG mistake. If it isn't.. GG, thanks for clarifying so early (appreciated). I have to say that I have no reason at all to doubt GG's words.
Just a couple of observations from a neophyte to SEO (feel free to flame me):
First, aren't we getting a little full of ourselves when we believe that what we as webmasters feel is what drives Google's decisions? They're in business to make money just like all of us are and that probably is one of the major factors in determining the course they follow.
Secondly, I'm not entirely convinced that paid listings "ruin" a search engine's value for the end user. I, myself, don't give a rat's tail whether or not a listing is a paid one or not - all I care about is whether it provides me with the info/service/product I'm looking for. I'd wager that more than 1/2 of searchers don't notice and/or don't care whether paid listings are included in the results IF they're relevant to the search. Granted, when someone's shelling out $2 a click to rank for my keywords, I get a little miffed, but it's a free country.
Lastly, I've noticed that lots of people bemoan tactics used by others who are high in the rankings - or highER in the rankings. While I don't advocate doing anything devious, aren't we ALL manipulating our sites to rank well in some form or another? Be honest...who really just throws up a page without a thought as to where their keywords should be positioned, what title to use, etc., etc., etc. So you can't really fault people for using the system to their advantage (unless, again, they're using "evil" tactics). And, theoretically speaking, Google could never be "pure" anyway because the listings themselves paid and unpaid aren't entirely pure based on the motives behind structuring pages in a given way in order to rank higher. The only way they could be pure is for every page contained within the results to be designed solely to satisfy the searcher as opposed to being designed primarily to rank well.
Anyway, just my $0.02 worth.
These include to a large of degree integrity of return... NOT based upon financial clout.
THAT is a major differentiator in this market. It may not bother you, but it bothers a lot of people and affects the perception of a whole stack more. If it didn't Google would never have emerged.
Quite apart from that, those of us who do sometimes search for INFORMATION do NOT want to wade through what is effectively a Yellow Pages directory for it. The free internet is not yet dead.
I agree with you on the point of not wanting to wade thru nothing but advertising to find what you're searching for.
I'm just saying that in and of itself, I don't really have a problem with paid advertising provided it's relevant and provides me with what I'm searching for.
Again, just my opinion - I'm sure not a popular one. :-)
>> I don't really have a problem with paid advertising provided it's relevant and provides me with what I'm searching for. <<
The big problem is differentiation - paid advertising should be CLEARLY marked as such, and CLEARLY differentiated (ie: not mixed with other reurns to deceive the searcher).
The consumers must know what they are being served.
This is a very active debate, and I sense litigation is looming in some areas. Fundamentally though it revolves around honesty - the integrity of 'search engines'.
Nothing wrong with adverts... but bill them as such and keep them well away from search engine results. Anything else is deception, dishonest and totally unacceptable.
Good placement has more to do with good SEO. This forum is full of advise on how to manipulate (SEO) a site to better rankings. PR numbers, theme pyramids, link chasing, short 10K or less pages, titles, descriptions, body content, keyword placement, what to do, what not to do, etc., etc.
So now Google is manipulating too. Sites pay SEO's for manipulating or sites pay Google for manipulating. I don't see much of a difference.
We all manipulate for a reason, the biggest being for money.
I do. I even manipulate how I look with cosmetics - not too much, but enough to make me seem better. In the end it's what we can get each away with.
(edited by: nell at 10:45 am (utc) on May 9, 2002)