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Stuck In Google's Doghouse 165

Posted by kdawson
from the picking-the-winners dept.
hansoloaf writes "The NY Times is running an article about a business, Sourcetool.com that seem to be in a sort of a doghouse with Google. Initially Sourcetool uses AdWords to help build up its business. The business centers around providing links for business that sell industrial products. The owner, Dan Savage, explains in detail how Google over time used its AdWords bidding system to limit or reduce Sourcetool's ranking and revenue because the site's landing page is not 'googly' enough. Savage wrote a letter to the Justice Department as they are reportedly looking into Google and Yahoo's proposed deal." The article is nuanced in its observations about the complexity and ambiguity of anti-trust law. Even if Sourcetool and similar businesses aren't "Googly" — which is a Google proxy for "what the customer wants to see in search results" — should Google be able to pick winners and losers among industries and business models?
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Stuck In Google's Doghouse

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  • by Naughty Bob (1004174) * on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:11PM (#24991993)
    The Dan Savage [avclub.com]? Love your work.

    But surely google must serve its customers in the way it deems best. Otherwise, who is running the business?

    Solution? Make your website less like a link-farm. Perhaps add some value, like trustable reviews, or customer recommendations (otherwise, the site is not really any different to a Google search on the term "Industrial Products").

    "Googly" -- which is a Google proxy for "what the customer wants to see in search results"

    Which is, of course, why Google is the No.1 search engine. They make serving their customers their business, the crazy loons.

    • by adisakp (705706) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:28PM (#24992115) Journal
      His website relied on being a link-farm.

      From The Summary: The business centers around providing links for business that sell industrial products.

      The summary is wrong it should say "AdSense Links".

      Basically, he was skimming from Google. He was paying google less for search terms than Google was paying him for click throughs. If you typed "ball bearings" on Google you might get one of his adwords (that he paid 5-6 cents for), then clicked on one of his "ball bearing" you'd be clicking on a Google AdSense ad (that he was paid 10cents per click through). He was making a huge amount of money by making people click twice through what Google would prefer to be a single click from their system. Plus his entire business model relied on skimming cash from Google.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jmpeax (936370) *
        RTFA - his site is more than just a collection of ads. It's a huge searchable directory that had some ads on it to generate profit.

        I know reading the article isn't popular, but on this occasion it's important. Parent really isn't being insightful.
        • by adisakp (705706) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @03:08PM (#24992387) Journal
          The site still looks like a link farm. And every page basically has paid links on it that just repeat the search terms he was paying Google to buy. There's no reason Google should sell him search terms cheaper than they pay him for click throughs on the same search terms.
        • by richj (85270)

          And the most likely ads the person would click on would be the ad that matches the search term he just googled for.

          It's really hard to feel bad for this guy, he's got a bunch of links (a la Yahoo circa 1995 - really innovative!) and then a system that translates the Google search into his adwords revenue. How's that not a link farm?

        • by nog_lorp (896553) *

          It was a huge database of just links to websites, with no other data available for those sites. And the New York Times article I read made it sound like he had quite a few adsense ad panes going on.

      • His website relied on being a link-farm. From The Summary: The business centers around providing links for business that sell industrial products.

        Are you talking about Sourcetool, or Google? They both sell viewers to advertisers.

    • by VoidEngineer (633446) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:31PM (#24992135)
      Yes, except you've forgotten a critical point... Companies who advertise and pay them money are their customers, not the masses who use their services for free.
      • by Naughty Bob (1004174) * on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:35PM (#24992167)

        Yes, except you've forgotten a critical point... Companies who advertise and pay them money are their customers, not the masses who use their services for free.

        I didn't forget this- It isn't a critical point though-

        How would Google be serving its customers by filling up the search results with link farms? In my eyes, that only devalues the product.

        This site, as a poster above points out, is simply skimming cash from Google.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:40PM (#24992221)

        They are the customers, but nevertheless it may be a good business decision to get rid of bad customers.
        If some customers are given cheap ads to irrelevant pages, the free users (Google's product) will start clicking on the links less, and thus reduce the value of Google's services their other customers.

        Since this is Slashdot, every post needs a bad analogy. This case is similar to a restaurant throwing out a paying customer (or charging them *a lot*) if they are loud, annoying and disturbing many other eaters.

        • by Mr Z (6791)

          This case is similar to a restaurant throwing out a paying customer (or charging them *a lot*) if they are loud, annoying and disturbing many other eaters.

          Mr. Creosote, would like a mint? It is wafer thin.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by EVil Lawyer (947367)

        Yes, except you've forgotten a critical point... Companies who advertise and pay them money are their customers, not the masses who use their services for free.

        Hmm, so Honda, Toyota, Ford, etc. should care what their dealers want, and not what the people who buy their cars from the dealers want?

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Which is, of course, why Google is the No.1 search engine. They make serving their customers their business, the crazy loons.

      Google doesn't do any better than the competition does in terms of what makes it into the results. I switched over to msn for search, and the results really aren't worse than Google's are.

      Google does a pretty poor job of filtering out link farms and search engine results from the top couple of pages. Pages which consist only of lists of other pages shouldn't appear in a proper search engine's results. Definitely not on the first couple of pages.

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:56PM (#24992333) Homepage

      Bingo...

      The website is a link farm. and it's a whiney butt complaining that their semi shady business is pissing off google.

      Honestly, I think any link-farm site needs to be delisted.

      "googley" stands for a honest and real website and not a site page that is designed to list links to other places purely to build google page ranks for other sites.

    • by zogger (617870)

      A page of google search results is nothing but a link farm with some ads. This is like the old pot calling the kettle black. An individual does a single web page with topic-specific related links...that's the same thing google does, just they generate their's on the fly based on search words. I am not seeing any huge difference there with what the human sees on the screen once the browser renders it, it's a page with topic related links.

      • See Adisakp's post above. [slashdot.org]

        I don't mean this pejoratively, because they're fine animals, but leach is the word.
      • This is like the old pot calling the kettle black.

        Ummm... no it's not. Search engine/"link farm" relevance would be really poor if a search engine listed another search engine/"link farm" as a viable result.

      • A page of google search results is nothing but a link farm with some ads. This is like the old pot calling the kettle black. An individual does a single web page with topic-specific related links...that's the same thing google does, just they generate their's on the fly based on search words.

        You Sir, are a genius! Google should just sue that Webmaster because he's not putting Google in his listings (for free). In fact, after a bit of research on his site, I find that his web site is not even listing any we

    • by oldhack (1037484)

      ...They make serving their customers their business, the crazy loons.

      And yet keywords are auctioned off to the highest bidders, which goes againt delivering the most relevant search result. Add that Google is an effective monopoly - i.e., wields predominant market power.

      • And yet keywords are auctioned off to the highest bidders, which goes againt delivering the most relevant search result.

        Oldhack. Keywords get you into the ads, not the search results.

        • by oldhack (1037484)

          Right, I should have noted the search result, including the side bar ads that show up. When Google talks about "user experience" as a justification for the move, they seem to mean putting up "relevant" ads, but the relevancy is determined by auctioning.

          Btw, who did you mean by "customer"?

          • by vakuona (788200)

            That is a valid way to determine relevance. The more confident you are that customers searching certain keywords are looking for and want to buy your product, the more you are willing to pay for it.

            • by oldhack (1037484)

              That is a valid way to determine relevance. The more confident you are that customers searching certain keywords are looking for and want to buy your product, the more you are willing to pay for it.

              You think so? Then maybe Google should apply the same logic and replace the entire search results with the links from highest bidders.

      • by EVil Lawyer (947367) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @07:07PM (#24994167)

        ...They make serving their customers their business, the crazy loons.

        And yet keywords are auctioned off to the highest bidders, which goes againt delivering the most relevant search result. Add that Google is an effective monopoly - i.e., wields predominant market power.

        Saying that "keywords are auctioned off to the highest bidder" is so incomplete that it's basically wrong. The auction process does include a monetary bid, but auction is massively affected by something called "Quality Score."

        If Site A bids $5.00 for the keyword "dog house", but its landing page has nothing to do with "dog houses," its ad will either not be displayed, or will be displayed well below Site B who bids $0.05 but has a landing page that is all about doghouses. Landing page/keyword relevance, responsiveness of the advertiser's web server, and previous click-through rates for that advertiser ALL are factored in when Google decides in what order to place the ads. In fact, if Site A has a history of very low CTR ads that aren't relevant to the keywords on which it bids, it will have to overcome a low quality score for ALL of its ads--it'll be "guilty until proven innocent."

        • by oldhack (1037484)

          I was ignorant of the Quality Score, but it seems like it's subjective and not entirely clear-cut criteria. Nothing wrong with that, per se, except Google is an effective monopoly, and that gives them the license and appearance of arbitrary power. According to TFA, the sourcetool guy tried to amend his site to accommodate Google's requirements, but Google failed to provide concrete guideline, while supporting a similar competing site which is a Google partner.

          Google's market power combined with the neb

    • by 12357bd (686909)

      But surely google must serve its customers in the way it deems best.

      Come on! Google just serves itself, like any other bussines.

      Google does not hesitate to screw his 'customers', any time they see fit. Ever heard of Google's money machine?

  • by willyhill (965620) <pr8wak&gmail,com> on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:13PM (#24992005) Homepage Journal

    At first I thought this was going to be yet another "SearchKing"-like whine with cheese about how unfair Google was being to some sleazy parked domain hoarder. But that's not quite the case. Make sure you RTFA. I think the guy's website is relatively useful and well-organized. It sure doesn't feel like the usual AdWord gaming scheme.

    I get the sense that Google is being hoisted by its own petard here. The fact that the article mentions the site in question might be in direct competition with one of Google's main partners is definitely interesting, coupled with the allegation that he knew of at least one other website who got a pass from the algorithm after being evaluated by a human being.

    Here's an example. I searched for wood cutting [sourcetool.com] on Sourcetool. That's a pretty relevant list of results if you're a business looking for that kind of equipment. Now run the same [google.com] search directly into Google. See the problem? Yeah, the 5th hit is a Runescape page, for cryin' out loud. I'm sure I could possibly refine the search, but think about the ads that show up on the right side of the page. A link to Sourcetool and five seconds later I'm looking at what I actually needed.

    Maybe Google is nervous about niche search solutions? I'm just not seeing their problem here.

    If the article is correct, Google is not acting on good faith. To all the people who screamed about how Google is not a monpoly and made Microsoft jokes when Slashdot ran the Yahoo deal antitrust investigation, remember that Google does have more than 70% of the online ad market, and then put yourself in this guy's position. What are your options? MSN ads? You're screwed, because you can't take your business elsewhere.

    And I have to say I was astounded at the money amounts mentioned... $600K per month? I'm definitely in the wrong business!

    • by jonbryce (703250) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:25PM (#24992091) Homepage

      When I go to a search engine and ask it to find me something, I don't want to be taken to another search engine that might find me what I want. I want it to find me what I want.

      • The parent argues convincingly that the search engine Google is not finding what you want, and the sourcetool.com search engine is.

        • Except that, not (Score:4, Informative)

          by Scareduck (177470) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @05:38PM (#24993545) Homepage Journal
          Did you bother to actually look at sourcetool.com? Multiple keywords, all unrelated to each other, each with the same anchor tag. He's a whiner.
          • by croftj (2359)

            Actually, I have not needed his site for real, but it does have advantages over most. First and foremost, he has a link to the actual website and does not just run you around his site (though he does have plenty of possible loops for you to choose from).

            He also gives pretty decent descriptions of the companies.

            Granted, you only know how useful his site is when you are looking for something you need, and with my check that was not the case.

      • No fricking kidding. I'm glad this loser got "busted". Directory pages are completely useless. If I search for "ball bearings" I want to find manufacturers, not some link farm.

        Another one that google desperately needs to wipe from the face of the www, is directorym.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:45PM (#24992253)

      I liked the article a lot too, and it's certainly true that someone who is operating a search business is in a tricky position. As I read it he grossed $650K monthly on click revenue, and paid Google $500K a month for keywords.

      How much value is the site providing in between clicks? I searched it in a couple areas where I've had to find and buy materials or equipment. I would say not real useful, and far from complete. If you're seriously sourcing stuff for a business, you soon learn who the main manufacturers and distributors are, and if you google, you don't google for a broad category, but for a part number or the narrowest possible technical descriptor. Maybe if you're just starting out and with no idea who sells widget-grinders this would give you some initial places to look.

      Other readers will be savvier on this, but the site really looks like it was generated by software with minimal human intervention. I certainly get no sense that experts in particular areas had any hand in making the categories. The guy's business model depends on being widely spread across a whole lot of categories, which pretty much precludes paying for the in-depth expertise that would make it really helpful.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Wonko the Sane (25252) *

        If you're seriously sourcing stuff for a business, you soon learn who the main manufacturers and distributors are, and if you google, you don't google for a broad category, but for a part number or the narrowest possible technical descriptor.

        Many industrinal suppliers have horrible web sites. I buy a lot of Allen-Bradley products, and while I've learned to navigate their web site, I hate it with a passion.

        Imagine that you need to know something about a switch, maybe an 800T-J91A. Do you want:

        1. One page for t
    • by rhizome (115711) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @03:56PM (#24992759) Homepage Journal

      Here's an example. I searched for wood cutting on Sourcetool. That's a pretty relevant list of results if you're a business looking for that kind of equipment.

      Except that every link is to a business.com redirector. Aside from the linkfarm site design going on, the redirect for every link is a big, spammy and red siren for me.

      • by Quixote (154172) *
        Some sites use a third-party redirector to keep track of their outgoing referrals.

        Just because he's using a redirector is not, in itself, a smoking gun.

    • by swb (14022)

      I reached the same conclusion as willyhill when I read the article; Google is threatened by niche search and assuages these feelings by protecting preferred niche search solution providers and shunning others. An open market in niche search could lead to niche search providers aligning with Microsoft or other competitors, or generally undermining Google's dominance.

      What I can't decide, though, is whether this is a conscious policy on Google's part or some kind of coincidental behavior that's arisen as a re

    • Thank you. I've been thinking the same things but wasn't willing to do as good a job as you have of documenting and articulating why this site A.) gives legitimate value and, B.) has a valid case of discrimination. Afaic, once Google had featured this guy and given him an award, they lost any legitimate grounds for claiming that his site somehow "wasn't appropriate", especially once the guy had blown half a million dollars doing what they made him guess was what they wanted.
      Would I be happier if his site ha
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:14PM (#24992013)

    Does a company have a right to revenue? If they base their business model on the rules of another company, do they really have recourse when the rules are changed to damage that revenue stream?

    And can anyone point me to a bit torrent of an actual Miley Cyrus CD instead of garbage binaries?

    • by pimpimpim (811140) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:29PM (#24992117)
      And can anyone point me to a bit torrent of an actual Miley Cyrus CD instead of garbage binaries?

      Indeed. If I want to search for ball bearings, I want google to first give me the search result of a real ball bearing producer or store. Not have to click additional links to ad-ridden garbage pages that might eventually lead me to a ball bearing producer (or not).

      Google should be busy optimizing their product (which is views by users who also click on advertisements). This guy is making money from a google algorithm, if it changes for the better, he should change with it. Where is the big deal.

    • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:31PM (#24992137) Homepage Journal

      And can anyone point me to a bit torrent of an actual Miley Cyrus CD instead of garbage binaries?

      As the parent of a pre-teen girl who has said CD, let me assure you that you're drawing a distinction that does not exist.

    • by russotto (537200)

      And can anyone point me to a bit torrent of an actual Miley Cyrus CD instead of garbage binaries?

      No; they're indistinguishable.

  • by johannesg (664142) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:18PM (#24992039)

    Making a long list of websites containing a specific phrase is fairly trivial. Finding interesting ones among that set, or in other words, picking winners and losers, is the reason Google (and other search machines) exists at all.

    So yes, they damn well should be doing that.

    Now, if only they would get rid of those annoying sites that offer "$HARDWARE? Prices, reviews, and benchmarks! Be the first to write a review!"...

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      Considering that most searches now cough up acres and acres of linkfarms, some of which even come up as sponsored links, I find Google's behaviour more than a little suspicious.

  • Google (Score:3, Interesting)

    by perlchild (582235) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:21PM (#24992059)

    If
    The Google rules are:
    1) well understood
    2) documented
    3) Non-arbitrary

    I'm sure google will be able to defend them in court.

    However, whenever I hear people discussing them, 2) is not true, on the argument that they would be gamable otherwise.

    I predict a loss for Google. Without documentation they can't prove they're not arbitrary. If they're arbitrary, they're acting like a monopoly and need to be struck down. From "do no evil" to "do the only evil that's actually explicitly forbidden by law for a company". It's quite a drop

    • The point is: as soon as Google documents its algorithms for the general public, they become meaningless, because it would get just too easy to game them.

      Google will *never* allow anyone outside the developer teams to know about how the system works in detail.

      BTW: If I u

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by R2.0 (532027)

      "I predict a loss for Google. Without documentation they can't prove they're not arbitrary. If they're arbitrary, they're acting like a monopoly and need to be struck down."

      I think you misunderstand anti-trust law. "Arbitraryness" has nothing to do with it - it might even be a good defense. Anti-trust id designed to prevent companies from using their monopoly power to run competitors out of business. It has to be a conscious choice - they have to TRY to run someone out of business. But if a company goes

      • by perlchild (582235)

        And since he claims not to be a link farm, they wouldn't have to explain how their algorithm isn't faulty, and flagging him as a linkfarm? Especially since no human intervention is occuring?

        I'm not talking about the scoring of points that comes out of the algorithm, but the classification of sites.

        Your examples would be great, except they deal with real goods, not information. If I MD5 some string of bits, I can't guarantee it's as useful as the original string of bits, but from the point of view of the l

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      1) The rules he is breaking *are* documented:

      - "Thin affiliate site": http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66361
      - "Keyword stuffing": http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66358

      2) It's "Don't be evil", not "Do no evil". How hard is it to remember the fucking slogan correctly? Also, how is cleaning up link farms "evil"? Maybe you have a different definition than I do.

      3) Savage's website is clearly shite, look at the keyword stuffing and complete uselessness of

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:24PM (#24992083) Homepage Journal

    So they're asking the gov't to determine whether Google has to highly rank link farms?

    Yes, Google absolutely has the right to pick and choose results. They're the sole owners of their data and may present it any way they want. By what legal theory could that possibly be untrue?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mysidia (191772)

      Actually.. this is about price discrimination, not choice of content: running an auction and specifying an exhorbitantly high minimum bid for one site (your competitor) and a different minimum bid for another site (your business allies) for the very same purchase.

      This is not unlike Microsoft charging one price to OEMs who bundle Windows with every single PC and denying the discount to any OEM who sells any PC without windows on it.

      In this case it's about the site containing a search service and directo

      • by jmauro (32523)

        No. They're charging everyone the same price per volume. It's about this guy's business model not working out once the price per ad on Google climbed above the price per ad posted on his website. As such I don't really feel all that sorry for him. There are other ad organizations out there that may suit his needs, but blaming Google for raising fees to cover costs (like in this case where he's taking 1.2 million a year from Google) is just plain silly.

        And yes, he has a nice looking link farm, but that

    • By the legal theory that you can't say you're doing one thing, and enter into contracts on that basis, and then actually do something else. (Not that I support link-farmers in any way; just answering the question.)
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:24PM (#24992085) Homepage

    That's an AdWords arbitrage site, one that buys cheap clicks to get traffic and sells expensive clicks to its own advertisers. Such sites are just another form of webspam. When Google raised their minimum bid for ads on search, many of those bottom-feeders dropped out, and ad clutter was reduced. Google revenue went down, too, but may recover in time.

    • Actually, as far as I'm aware, you have it precisely backwards. If it's truly an arbitrage site, it should succeed, by definition, until the arbitrage opportunity runs out.

      And while some people are going to wring their hands and moan that value was taken away from, arbitrage is simply one of the many mechanisms that markets use to adjust mispriced commodities and services to their correct market value. Same with shorting stock. Yes, some people are going to loose in the process, but in the end, both
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ngg (193578)

        Actually, as far as I'm aware, you have it precisely backwards. If it's truly an arbitrage site, it should succeed, by definition, until the arbitrage opportunity runs out.

        It seems to me that by increasing the minimum bid (mentioned in the grandparent), Google did cause the arbitrage opportunity to run out. So in fact, this link farm should no longer succeed. The market worked. What exactly is the problem here?

  • by Bert690 (540293) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @02:27PM (#24992105)
    More "oh look google is becoming evil!" nonsense. How exactly is it evil or "acting like Microsoft" to refuse over a half million dollars in revenue every month in order to prevent some lame ass site from annoying real users: the people who actually use the search engine to find information? People should try to use SourceTool before they draw any conclusions. I'm sure NOBODY would visit that site unless tricked into clicking on one of their ads. Don't you think if the site actually provided any real value, they could get plenty of visits through other means such as organic search listings?
  • Search engines companies do certainly make money from companies who pay them to be on top. But it shouldn't be up to a search engine to decide what is interesting or not.

    The only added value of having a search engine meddling in search results, is if they can 100% identify phishing and scam sites.

    • Re:Search and money (Score:4, Informative)

      by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @03:04PM (#24992367)

      But it shouldn't be up to a search engine to decide what is interesting or not.

      Bullshit. Why are you the great arbiter, the Great Decider, on what a search engine should be?

      Not to mention, that is exactly what search engines do--they sort through the more relevant (which are the "interesting"--links most of interest) first through algorithms for relevancy and traffic.

      • by houbou (1097327)
        Actually, to perhaps better explain what I meant, a search engine which categorizes based on traffic and relevancy is. Any other criterias which could be deemed subjective, not quantifiable, however should not be used. And I fail to see how your aggressive tone in your reply is going to impress anyone.
  • ``should Google be able to pick winners and losers among industries and business models?''

    While it is interesting to consider what Google should be able to do, it is also important to recognize what they can do. AdWords is theirs. They control it. They can set the rules, and your only choices are to accept the rules, or to not play.

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      While it is interesting to consider what Google should be able to do, it is also important to recognize what they can do. AdWords is theirs. They control it. They can set the rules, and your only choices are to accept the rules, or to not play.

      "A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?"

  • The business centers around providing links for business that sell industrial products

    Linkfarm. Google wins, +10 experience, x2 do no evil bonus.

  • Please, PLEASE allow us to check a box in our settings that gets us to the "real" search results, Google.

    Name it something innocous, like [] Remember the Good Old Days

    In fact, do that now, please - checking the box will remove Expert Sexchange, cnet, pricerunner, etc. etc. from the search "results"

    [the list that givemebackmygoogle [givemebackmygoogle.com] is a good start for the block list]
  • whine, whine (Score:3, Insightful)

    by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot&davidgerard,co,uk> on Saturday September 13, 2008 @03:57PM (#24992769) Homepage

    Google doesn't owe you a living. Deal.

    We get these whiny search engine optimisation spammers [davidgerard.co.uk] on Wikipedia all the time. They don't go away.

  • by soren100 (63191) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @04:15PM (#24992883)

    One of the greatest annoyances of Google (to those of us techies searching for answers) is "Expert's Exchange". Google gets to see the answers, but anyone searching for those answers doesn't get them, but is told to sign up and pay money for a "premium subscription".

    There are ways around this, but this is all an annoyance and a pain to deal with, because the answers are readily and freely available on the Internet, and they would be much easier to find if the search results weren't clogged up with this type of garbage result.

    So why aren't they in the "doghouse" too? (while we're at it, It would be great to move all the scientfic access-for-pay journals to a separate "scientific" google while we're at it -- they end up being half the results of my searches sometimes, but at least they aren't the tease that the EE site is)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by idlemachine (732136)

      One of the greatest annoyances of Google (to those of us techies searching for answers) is "Expert's Exchange". Google gets to see the answers, but anyone searching for those answers doesn't get them, but is told to sign up and pay money for a "premium subscription".

      There are ways around this, but this is all an annoyance and a pain to deal with[...]

      The answers -are- there, just scroll down past the point that mentions subscription and you'll find them. If scrolling is "an annoyance and a pain", try hitting the End key...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by soren100 (63191)

        I used to do that, but I tried that the other day, and it didn't work. I am looking for answers, not to play games with that website.

      • by arkhan_jg (618674)

        That used to work, then it only worked with the google cache, and now it doesn't work at all, all the answers are obfusticated.

        I really wish google would kill off their ranking, there's plenty of other places to get the same answers which don't require a sub.

    • Google gets to see the answers, but anyone searching for those answers doesn't get them, but is told to sign up and pay money for a "premium subscription".

      Unless they, you know, just scroll down.

      The munged answers and exhortations to sign up are at the top of the page, but if you just scroll down, you'll see the plaintext at the end.

      This isn't immediately obvious, but it's hardly difficult.

  • Sourcetool (and numerous other companies) have a business model that is almost entirely dependent on the business model and operation of another company or industry, which in this case is Google. If they existed prior to any major search engine existing and the growth and dominance of Google has, over time, eroded or destroyed Sourcetool, he MIGHT have a point. Of course, history is full of examples where the development of one industry destroyed another (horse buggies vs automobiles for instance), but th

  • Google should be able to pick and filter their results in the same way that the NY Times' editorial board does with their newspaper. If a story doesn't appeal as much as another, they go for that one. Likewise, Google should be free to choose what they think appeals and promote that.

    HOWEVER, Google shouldn't have such dominance in the search market. The problem is that Google controls the majority of search advertising. While the NY Times has a wide readership, it probably doesn't even reach a 10% marke

  • by pongo000 (97357) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @04:47PM (#24993155)

    ...has morphed into a "pay to play" scam, where you either pony up what Google demands, or else choose not to do business with Google. I've used AdWords for a couple of years now. This past year, I've noticed a disturbing trend: When I select relatively obscure (but valid) AdWords, with low CPC traffic estimates, it takes about a day before Google exponentially increases the price -- sometimes by a factor of 10, even more. And here's the kicker: Google does not give you the choice of paying to rank "in the middle of the pack". Instead, it's all or nothing: Either pay the exorbitant price tag Google now demands for the number #1 slot, or don't run your keywords at all.

    This makes sense, in that it ensures that Google can take in maximum revenue for each keyword, rather than varying levels based upon what customers are willing to pay. As is to be expected from a publicly-traded company seeking to maximize shareholder value.

    As a small business owner, I simply can't compete with (1) the click fraud that's rampant in AdWords, (2) the ability of well-heeled businesses such as eBay to bid up random AdWords to excessive CPC values, and (3) legitimate companies who can afford the number 1 AdWord slot for a keyword.

    The sooner people realize that Google is not craigslist and has no reason to support anything that does not directly and positively affect its bottom line (thereby further enriching its shareholders), the sooner we'll get alternatives out there from companies and individuals who truly believe in enhancing usability and accessibility for the typical Internet denizen (read: you and me).

  • I'm lost (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dmsuperman (1033704)
    How is it any of the government's business how google ranks it's results? If google decided tomorrow to start ranking results from site:slashdot.org for no reason at all, is it not their place to do so?
  • I've tried the several times. Each time 100 to 300 dollars poorer and I got no sales as a result.

    They're making my good link placement less relevent as well. Not they're are effectively 6 ads before you get to look at the first real search result. Now my number seven rank is 13!

  • Sourcetool Replies (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sourcetool (1363631) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @10:48AM (#24998167)
    Allow me to address briefly the two principal charges against Sourcetool: (1) that we are an arbitrager and (2) we are a link farm. Regarding the first point, I would argue that anyone conducting an online business these days is a arbitrager in that they hope to make more money on a visits to their site â" or on the repeat visits â" than it costs them to get people to their site. Even an ecommerce site is conducting a form of arbitrage. Unfortunately, with Google being the only game in town, we either have to figure out how to appear in the organic results â" which is virtually impossible for any directory other than Google Local â" or buy ourselves traffic from AdWords. While a handful of consumer websites might be able to capture word of mouth buzz and build an audience outside of Google, that is virtually impossible for B2B sites, the vast majority of which are lucky to get 100 visits a day. Most of my competitors in the business to business space charge companies for their position in their organic, which by the way is a much more profitable way to generate revenue on B2B site than running AdSense. I decided to do things in a very transparent way, clearly labeling the AdSense ads which made it much more obvious how I made money. The arbitrage issue dovetails into the link farm issue. How and when does a site become a link farm? Is Google a link farm because all of its results lead directly to other websites? In fact, 26 percent of the time people visit a Sourcetool result page, they click on an ad, which, by the way, is almost identical to Googleâ(TM)s organic to paid listings ratio. I invested $400,000 trying to get my organic results right. During the first 2 years, ironically, I paid Google $200,000 to license five Google Search Appliance services so that I could get the ordering of the listed businesses based on Googleâ(TM)s enterprise page rank. More recently, Iâ(TM)ve obviously been forced to cut costs and am using the open source SOLR search software to order the results. The NY Times reporter told me that Google complained that Sourcetoolâ(TM)s results led to a company profile page, rather than directly to the company website, something Google never mentioned to me in spite of numerous conversations on the topic. If I did that, I would be much more of a link farm than I am. In fact, I have invested well into six figures profiling the companies listed in Sourcetool and gathering the information that could be useful to a business buyer. Itâ(TM)s easy to throw around terms like link far and arbitrager, but itâ(TM)s demeaning to entrepreneurs who are honesty trying to build a valuable service. Clearly, Sourcetool.com could be a better site, and, if Google hadnâ(TM)t cut us off, we would be a much better site today. During our peak traffic days, we were receiving hundreds of company profiles each day, many from the emerging B2B companies in China. We had hoped to introduce videos of factory walkthroughs so buyers could visit plants without getting on a plane. But all of this takes money, and why would you invest money in a business that is controlled by somebody else who has proven to be a highly unreliable business partner.

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