Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

Google and WorldCat

Ever wanted to keep track of all the reading material related to a specific topic, like say, Google? WorldCat is one way to do it. Check out a simple list.

Just create a free account, do a simple search for the topic you want to research and WorldCat will show you which library has the material you’re looking for.

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Google Glitch

Look carefully at the image below. Right before the text that appears from the post below, Google has included theĀ  file name, “stack-of-books”.

file-name-appearing

I realize the search query term ‘books’ is in bold text and appears in the file name, but why is it necessary to include file names in the SERPs? Hard to believe it’s intentional.

With great foresight, the European Commission realized that Google dominating both search ads and nonsearch ads is a bad idea.

The lobby group also said that the merger would place the online advertising market in jeopardy because the combined company will dominate both major “pipelines” for online advertising–for search ads and nonsearch ads.

“There are many ways in which Google, post-merger, could push up prices for advertisers,” BEUC said.

While privacy is a major concern, it’s the impact on advertisers’ pockets that’s most likely to prevent the merger from taking place but does anyone really want Google to have access to that much information? As well as quite a bit of control over ad pricing?

The FTC of course, thinks the merger is fine. It appears that Google has learned the ropes with regard to lobbying and special interest groups. So it looks like we’ll have to deal with the Googleopoly. They will be able to drive ad prices up, kill sites that sell advertising that don’t follow their guidelines, (nofollow) and create almost perfect profiles of surfers so they can better target their ads.
Reuters Story

A couple of years ago I was looking for information on the AND circuit. Trying to find information on the AND circuit in Google is quite challenging,

Type “AND circuit” sans quotes into Google’s query box and you will get a message telling you that the “AND” operator is unnecessary. In this particular case, it’s very necessary and it’s not an operator.

Try adding some quotes and a natural phrase, let’s try “invented the AND circuit“. The result? The one result? The forum post I linked to in the first paragraph. That post is about two years old.

This is a perfect example of where current algos fall short. Yes I know it’s one example, and what I’m searching for includes a word that Google determines is an operator. But what about word dependencies? Word order? Why can’t Google’s algo determine that if “invented, the, AND and circuit” appear in that order, that what is wanted is information about AND circuits?

Let’s try another search. “tesla AND circuit”. Even worse. No results returned, and it’s hard to imagine that “tesla, AND and circuit” don’t appear in any indexed documents.

So with all the talk about determining meaning from context, it’s pretty apparent that those much vaunted algos aren’t as sophisticated as some would have you believe.

Hakia’s semantic search fails as well. At least Ask gives me a dictionary definition.

The embattled and embittered Google, desperately fighting on all fronts, effectively admitted they are losing the war being waged on their fragile Maginot Line, often referred to as “The Algorithm“.

In a last-ditch attempt to stay in control of their vast empire, they’ve escalated their attacks on sites that compete with them for revenue by selling links.

On October 7th, Danny Sullivan, Prime Minister of Search Engine Land* had this to report,

Official: Selling Paid Links Can Hurt Your PageRank Or Rankings On Google

Google’s war on paid links has escalated, though it is still unclear how effective these latest actions will be. Several unofficial sources speculate that the collateral damage will be far more severe than intended and many innocent civilians will suffer.

Other insiders insist that after a few high profile targets have been eliminated that the war will once again settle into the static trench warfare that SEO soldiers have become accustomed to.

Perhaps most chilling is this quote from the Prime Minister of Search Engine Land,

“In contrast, if you’re a smaller site not deemed as important to relevancy, a harsher punishment of a ranking penalty may be dealt out…”

In effect, the easiest way to assure survival is to comply with Google’s demands or provide them with large sums of money in ad revenue.

In an amusing twist, Google will still provide ad services to their sworn enemies via AdSense and Adwords.

In closing, the Prime Minister had this to say,

“If Google traffic is important to you, don’t sell links”.

*There is no truth to the assertions that the Prime Minister is a propaganda agent in the employ of one or more search engines. Speculation as to why the official publication of the Prime Minister is named “Search Engine Land” and not SEO Land or SEM Land is simply that, speculation.

If you doubted that Google was going to enter the cell phone market, reports from WSJ and the Washington Post should remove those doubts.

Google has developed a prototype cell phone that could reach markets within a year, and plans to offer consumers free subscriptions by bundling advertisements with its search engine, e-mail and Web browser software applications, according to a story published today in The Wall Street Journal.

How can you use this news? By getting ready for the mobile marketing storm. Personally, I think you can forget about having to listen to ads on the phone, Google wants to push their software, email application and cell phone browser into the hands of everyone and what better way to do that than by giving you the phone and service for free?

Google gets more aggressive confronting the challenge of identifying paid links-

Just posted at WMW- Report Paid Links – New In Google Webmaster Tools

This morning I discovered a new tool on the frontpage of my webmaster central account — Report paid links – Oliver Henniges

So how accurate do you think those reports will be? I suggest reporting every page you see that contains an Adsense ad. Or any advertisement for that matter.

If you’ve ever wanted confirmation that paid links work, this is it. For more on Google’s link issues, see In Links We Trust – How Google Reshaped The Web.

Google finds another way to clutter up their search results.

Now, Google Product Search will still be a site for searching shopping listings only, but the most relevant listings in Product Search will also appear in the main search site in a “one-box” area above the organic results, which are the most relevant unpaid search listings. The one-box area snags results from other specialized Google search sites, like Google News.

Greg Sterling said that the change reflects Google’s new, grown-up attitude,

And it reflects a transition of the company from one that had a whimsical attitude about its products to one that’s more serious about itself and its products.

But my favorite quote was this one,

Smith said he thinks Google Base is a threat to shopping and other vertical sites, but doesn’t think toppling them is Google’s goal. “Google just wants to organize the world’s information. They don’t care where it’s from,” said Smith.

All too true, they don’t care who owns the copyright to the information either. Far from maturing, Google has turned into the grabby toddler of the business world, snatching every thing in site, leaving fingerprints everywhere and shouting, mine! when confronted with troublesome issues like copyright.

 

Google arrived on the scene in 1998 with all the exuberance and naivete of a grad student, not surprising given that its creators, Larry Page and Sergey Brin were both graduate students when they first met at Stanford University.

Their collaboration on a 1996 project known as BackRub, (so named because backlinks were analyzed) became the search engine we all know as Google. By 1999 Google was no longer a beta engine and had moved from the garage to an office on University Avenue in Palo Alto.

The PageRank Citation System was indeed bringing order to the Web. Even as early as 1998 some thought was given to the impact that commercial interests would have on their search engine algorithm, as evidenced by the following quote,

“At worst, you can have manipulation in the form of buying advertisements (links) on important sites. But, this seems well under control since it costs money.” – From, Bringing Order To The Web -1998

That woefully short sighted observation should have been a warning to everyone that Google’s idealistic creators had no idea the impact their search engine would have on e-commerce, and that buying links, even in 1998, was a practice that Google’s creators frowned on.

tb2Buying and selling links was a common practice in 1998. It was simply known as ‘advertising.’ In 2000, Google would launch their toolbar and this simple browser plugin would have as much of an impact on the Web as the search engine itself.

With the addition of the little green bar as an indicator of PageRank, Google had unwittingly supplied a tool to those that wanted to manipulate Google’s search engine results. Now the link merchants had an easy way of valuing the links they were selling and to those people that craved the #1 spot in the Google results, control now seemed to be in their hands. The longer the little green bar, the more green could be generated by both link sellers and webmasters.

Link exchange UCE (spam) quickly became a problem. Anyone and everyone with a website that had a decent PageRank value became the target of those wishing to buy, sell or trade links. Link farms sprang up all over the Web. Directories were created that took advantage of PageRank values as price points. By 2003 PageRank was seen as so important that the first lawsuit occurred over the perceived sale of it.

To help combat the problem, Google reduced the accuracy of their PageRank indicator to the point that it became useless. In 2003 however, Google launched a program known as Adsense and the Web is still reeling from the impact.

With the launch of Adsense it was now possible for anyone to make money on the Web. No need for a product, tax tables, shipping cost calculators, expensive shopping carts, no need for any confusing or low-paying affiliate program, all you needed was a website or blog and enough know-how to copy and paste a snippet of code.

With high payouts and such easy implementation, it wasn’t long before everyone wanted to cash in on the Adsense phenomenon. Unfortunately, not everyone wanted to take the time to create a worthwhile site. It was much easier to scrape content from other sites and places Adsense on the stolen content. To make matters worse, once someone is approved for Adsense, the code can be placed on any number of sites, with no review.

This fast and loose policy is directly responsible for the proliferation of ‘Made For Adsense’ sites, known as MFAs. Only one ingredient was missing for success with Adsense. Links. Even scraper sites need links and since the content is typically poor or worthless other webmasters won’t link to them. A solution was available however. Link spam, in the form of comments on blogs.

Automated programs seek out blogs and add a link to the target site in the form of a thinly disguised comment. The automation of comment spam became so bad the major search engines like Google and Yahoo banded together to find a solution. Their answer to the problem is known as ‘nofollow’. Place ‘nofollow’ on the links people add in their comments and the the target site receives no boost from the search engines.

As solutions go, nofollow is a poor one. People running the automated comment spam programs simply don’t care about nofollow. With billions of pages out there, they’ll find pages in which nofollow isn’t used. Real solutions, like Akismet, have proven much more effective.

While nofollow as a solution to comment spam has been largely ineffective, Google is now recommending its use for other purposes such as combatting the efficacy of paid links. Google wants to know which links to trust, and to Google, paid links simply aren’t trustworthy? Why? The answer is simple, paid links are effective. Buying links allows anyone to manipulate Google’s results. Which brings into question the continued viability of the citation-based ranking system that is crucial to Google’s success.

How is it possible to tell that paid links are effective? Because Matt Cutts, a Google engineer, wants people to report paid links. On the surface, that might not seem like such a bad thing, but the reality may be quite different.

Google’s citation-based system is falling apart in a world in which links are traded like commodities and Google wants control, not just control of their own results but control of other people’s websites. They’ve basically stated that paid links are bad for the Web unless they’re Google’s links. Anyone that thinks that Adsense ads, (paid links) don’t directly affect the search engine results doesn’t understand the impact that Adsense has had on the Web.

Links are the very essence of the Web, allowing Google to tell you how to link gives them with far too much power. If you want to follow Google’s advice, build your site for your visitors, not for the search engines, and that includes your links. If a paid link is beneficial to the user, so be it. Whether or not it was paid for should have no bearing on the issue.

If you think for a minute that Google cares about the user experience, think about this, Google allows Adsense to be placed on sites without regard to quality of content and they advise blending your ads to look like site navigation, a perfect example of deceiving the user. What their actions say is simply this, paid links are just fine, as long as Google is the one getting paid.

Link freely, link often, and let Google clean up their own mess.

bullshitNo, I’m not going to make you look up ‘ipsedixitism’. It means ‘unsupported assertions’ but ipsedixitism is a lot more interesting isn’t it?

I wasn’t following the Viacom v. Google lawsuit until I read something in a thread at Webmasterworld yesterday. It was this bit from Google’s Associate General Counsel, Alexander Macgillivray, “”We will never launch a product or acquire a company unless we are completely satisfied with its legal basis for operating,” Macgillivray told Reuters in an interview.” Well said, well said Mr. Macgillivray. It’s a perfect example of ipsedixitism.

Macgillivray must have a short memory. He seems to have completely forgotten about the European Gmail trademark case that Google lost.

While his memory may be bad, his aim isn’t. His words were a shot at Viacom. Legal posturing for the Viacom v. Google-owned YouTube copyright case.

I simply can’t figure out how Napster, which was P2P software, could lose in court, and Google could possibly win. That’s exactly what I think will happen though. Google will trample all over copyright law again, win in court, and effectively prove that nothing is fair and equal under the law. The uneasy, symbiotic relationship Google had with content creators is becoming ever more parasitic. If Google can walk all over Viacom, what will they do to you? What will they do with you when they no longer need you?