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Why Amazon Is Google's Real Competition

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the because-humans-are-too-lazy-to-read-words dept.

Google 129

New submitter wreakyhavoc writes "Nicholas Carlson at Business Insider maintains that Amazon's reviews and One-Click ordering will undercut Google's shopping ad revenue, and that Google is 'terrified.' From the article: 'Google is a search company, but the searches that it actually makes money from are the searches people do before they are about to buy something online. These commercial searches make up about 20 percent of total Google searches. Those searches are where the ads are. What Googlers worry about in private is a growing trend among consumers to skip Google altogether, and to just go ahead and search for the product they would like to buy on Amazon.com, or, on mobile in an Amazon app. There's data to prove this trend is real. According to ComScore, Amazon search queries are up 73 percent in the last year. How could Google fight this possible threat? Perhaps they could expose the astroturfing of Amazon reviews. Of course, this could backfire, as it would also draw attention to the astroturfing, link farming, and SEO games in Google's search results."

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129 comments

Astroturfing on Amazon? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41038669)

Citation please

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year and a half ago | (#41038723)

I was just going to post the same. I bet it happens here and there (not necessarily by Amazon themselves, but perhaps by independent authors/sellers), but how serious is it compared to the problems Google has with SEO?

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (5, Interesting)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year and a half ago | (#41038883)

I have seen it, when looking for laptops.

personally I dont bother with th 5 star reviews, I start with the 1 stars and decide which are simply faulty products or user error (you can find a lot of simple user error in 1 star reviews) Than I like to look at 3 and 4 stars to see what the people who took the effort to dig a little deeper rather than 5 stars cause its teh god! That Is my usual shopping research methods

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039689)

Than I like to look at 3 and 4 stars to see what the people who took the effort to dig a little deeper rather than 5 stars cause its teh god! That Is my usual shopping research methods

That's really smart.

And there's a whole lot of gaming that goes on in Amazon's books and music reviews. I met someone who works for one of the "New Media Strategies" companies. He's an out-of-work post-doc and is getting paid (poorly, I might add) to corrupt social media and online reviews in order to try to gain some perceived advantage for their clients big and small.

It gets worse: even little niche-y online communities like Slashdot are targeted by these companies for their clients. Insurance companies, politicians, big-name media companies, even sports franchises are using sock puppets to promote everything from candidates to soap to software. People can rely less and less that the entities encountered in social media are actually human beings posting their thoughts in good faith.

This could break bad for google and amazon alike, as people start to see online information as noise. Their seeming inviolability could disappear in a big hurry.

People are already starting to see that the bottom could fall out of a lot of big name dot.com businesses with not a lot of warning, and not just because of uncertainties about the economy as a whole.

It wouldn't take a whole lot to have Google and Amazon become dinosaurs real quick. I just think it's a mistake to believe that five years from now these companies are going to have the same kind of fundamental strength that the big manufacturing companies had in the post-WWII world. There are a lot of companies built on perception and that are very vulnerable to shifting habits.

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41040093)

I'm on a horse.

How come Google doesn't have user rating? (4, Interesting)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a year and a half ago | (#41042083)

I know Google is a search company

I know Google's main income source is advertising

But that does not mean Google can not implement something that let users to rate the services/products they received via the vendors they have used - through Google, of course

I believe Google still have enough talents to implement such feature - that is, if Google wants users to participate more in their income generation
 

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41040897)

Yep. One of the moderators over at Boingboing stated once that he had traced several poster IPs to a online PR company repeatedly in relation to specific political topics. Astroturf sells.

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41041523)

This is one of the likely reasons for a move toward restricting anonymous and even pseudonymous reviews (Google is doing this with +, for example), and trying to emphasize reviews by one's social group.

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (3, Insightful)

1000101 (584896) | about a year and a half ago | (#41041729)

It wouldn't take a whole lot to have Google and Amazon become dinosaurs real quick. I just think it's a mistake to believe that five years from now these companies are going to have the same kind of fundamental strength that the big manufacturing companies had in the post-WWII world. There are a lot of companies built on perception and that are very vulnerable to shifting habits.

Really? Both of these companies have massive, massive investments in infrastructure. These aren't some mom-and-pop, dot com, one trick pony shows. Hell, Government is starting (if not already) to rely on Google. Amazon is investing in same day delivery and is one of the biggest players online. It would take quite a bit IMHO for these two companies to become dinosaurs. This isn't 1999.

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#41044875)

Really? Both of these companies have massive, massive investments in infrastructure

So did Studebaker.

I'm not saying they'd disappear, but they'd become something very different from what they are.

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (2)

pinkeen (1804300) | about a year and a half ago | (#41044311)

There's a simple solution. "Certified owner" badge next to the review. Dealextreme does it so why shouldn't others?

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#41044849)

There's a simple solution. "Certified owner" badge next to the review. Dealextreme does it so why shouldn't others?

Do you know how all these right wing political books from Regnery press and Eagle Publishing make it onto the New York Times list? Because when the book ships, all these think tanks and every right-wing radio show and megachurch and Family Research Council-type outfit buys up book club copies to give away. They each count as sales. This has been going on forever. You'll even see a tiny little mark (not on the website, but if you look at the list in the Sunday book supplement) showing bulk sales. Eagle Publishing is famous for buying their own books to boost sales figures.

How many reviews appear with even the most popular books? You don't think it would be worthwhile to seed those with "Certified Owners" in order to get a higher rating?

Face it, when the Internet became the world's shopping mall, we should have realized it would turn into an extension of the marketing regime.

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#41041917)

Or you could just...look at what the person wrote? I have written several 5 star reviews on Amazon but anybody reading them will see that I am quick to point out what is good and what is not, just because a product gets 5 stars doesn't mean its perfect, just that it does what it is supposed to do well.

Take the review I made on a bass multieffect pedal. i was quick to point out there were a couple of effects that weren't useful for day to day (as it is in ALL multieffects) and that with all multiunits there is a bit of a learning curve, but the sound is clear, it has both user defined and a ROM with the original effects so you can tweak all day without losing a favorite sound, and most of the effects were obvious written by bass players as they didn't drown the bass in effect and made for useful stage and recording sounds. So don't judge a 5 star as an automatic shill, those are easy enough to spot if you read the review. For many of us if it does what it says on the tin and does it reliably it deserves 5 stars because we got exactly what we paid for. If it doesn't do as advertised I'll be the first to give it low reviews but what I've seen is most of the 1 star reviews got a bad unit and didn't even try to resolve it, just bitched.

As for TFA? Google frankly needs to be scared because that is what I and many of my friends have been doing for awhile. If its sold there I usually go straight to Amazon or at least pop it up along with Newegg and Tiger and compare and for me its worked great. Why use a middleman if you don't need one?

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41042263)

Defending your career hey?

You constantly post anti-FOSS/anti-Google astroturf for Microsoft (and a few other corps) here. Why would it surprise us that you shill on Amazon as well?

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41044175)

oh em gee they like something on the interwebs they must be PAID!!!!!!!!!!!!

My effing lord people.

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41043059)

I start out with the 1-star reviews as well. And I'd do it even if there were no such thing as fake reviews. I just assume the 1-star reviews will point out things that the 5-star reviews may have missed. Then if the 1-star reviews haven't scared me away, I'll look at the other reviews.

I do find it sad that a well-written 1-star review will tend to get a lot more unhelpful votes than a well-written 5-star review. Probably a lot of astroturfing with those helpful votes as well.

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41038925)

I was just going to post the same. I bet it happens here and there (not necessarily by Amazon themselves, but perhaps by independent authors/sellers), but how serious is it compared to the problems Google has with SEO?

This exactly. You don't have to buy anything to astroturf on google. But google search wins hands down even for the most simplest product searches, unless you buy only from amazon.

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (0)

Khyber (864651) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039633)

Nope, you don't have to buy anything to astroturf on google.

Google News has stories about Hydro Grow LED panels. Go look up "Hydro Grow LED scam" on Google.

Google is perpetuating scams at the cost of people's money, so they can have their ad revenue.

Fuck Google. If they can't be bothered to do journalistic integrity, they shouldn't be allowed to have a news section, or even ad section. Not even a classifieds section.

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41039713)

Dude, if you didn't notice, "Google News" is just search specialized to news. Google has no journalists to have journalistic integrity. Please remove your "why-didn't-they-chose-my-own-High-Power LED Horticulture-site-instead" glasses and look again.

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a year and a half ago | (#41041163)

I'm not looking for them to push my site, because I know others have better equipment.

Good job being an ignorant fuck, though.

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41039725)

I don't think Google could turn a profit if they vetted all ads manually. Does that mean it should shut down in your worldview? Would the world be better off without it?

Or would it be better for consumers to google a product before forking over their cash?

You decide.

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41040553)

This exactly. You don't have to buy anything to astroturf on google.

Nope, you don't have to buy anything to astroturf on google.

???

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (4, Informative)

kevinatilusa (620125) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039051)

An example of Astroturfing on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Twelfth-Cliburn-Piano-Competition/product-reviews/B000BZ8IA8/ref=cm_cr_pr_btm_link_4?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addFiveStar&pageNumber=4&showViewpoints=0 [amazon.com]

Of the 35 five star reviews, about 30 were posted in a 1 week period by people who have no other reviews. Of course, each of those reviewers carefully voted up all the previous other 5 star reviews to promote them in the review rankings (so

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (4, Insightful)

mark_elf (2009518) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039249)

The Van Cliburn Piano Competition? Really? How many people would even be on the fence about something like that. You either own all twelve or you wouldn't watch it if it was free. I mean maybe there was some turfing by all their friends or something. But anyone who would gush about The Van Cliburn Piano Competition very well could be sincere. It's not like it's an air freshener or a stick of RAM or something. The idea is that it's an artistic pinnacle reached by serious young musicians. I think Amazon gets a free pass on this one.

Re:Astroturfing on Amazon? (2)

mechtech256 (2617089) | about a year and a half ago | (#41042831)

But they're so convincing! "FAR SURPASSES SPIELBERG, KUBRICK, OR EVEN HITCHCOCK! Films such as Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and Schindlers List pale in comparison to this staggering, luminescent, wondrous cinematic masterpiece. Again, this is an understatement."

Astroturfing on iTunes (4, Informative)

rossjudson (97786) | about a year and a half ago | (#41043049)

Happens there too. The one the cheeses me off the most: Tangier Dream (http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/tangier-dream/id342411025). Stellar ratings and reviews, dotted with occasional "it's crap". Nothing unusual there. But check out the OTHER reviews by those reviewer -- non-existent, or telling the reader to check out "Buddy Mix" or some other piece of crap. The way the scam works is to pick something popular and write a fake review on it, adding a sentence noting that the reviewer's _other_ favorite right now is Tangier Dream, or Buddy Mix, or whatever. "Karen Rosa" on Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball: "...Speaking of cool rock tracks I just heard a great song I think everyone should check out 'Show Me A Little Leg' by Buddy Mix."...

"Karen Rosa" on Tangier Dream: "Wow...Wow...Wow!!! I think that says it all."

"Emily Love" on Kitaro's Digital Box Set: "I heard a new artist that has some asian feel to his music but also reminds me of Jarre and TD. The artist name is Eric Walker and his CD is Tangier Dream".

"Emily Love" on Tangier Dream: "Soothing and beautiful music..."

"Kristin Chan" on Digitalism's I Love You, Dude: "Also while I was looking for new music to hear I found Eric Walker and his cd Tangier Dream".

The turf war winner is "Ryan FarishFan", who has written six reviews on iTunes for a variety of albums. Each references Tangier Dream or Buddy Mix (on the same label).

Ick. I do see that at least a few of the reviews I bitched about to iTunes staff are gone now.

As if it were not a problem everywhere (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039143)

The thing that annoys me about complaining about astroturfing on Amazon, is the concept that it would happen on Amazon with any more regularity than anywhere else that had reviews.

I feel like basically the sources with the most people providing input have the least to worry in that regard, as many other voices will drown out astroturfers.

As long as you read Amazon reviews with a critical eye, they are fine...

Re:As if it were not a problem everywhere (3, Informative)

gmanterry (1141623) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039691)

The thing that annoys me about complaining about astroturfing on Amazon, is the concept that it would happen on Amazon with any more regularity than anywhere else that had reviews.

I feel like basically the sources with the most people providing input have the least to worry in that regard, as many other voices will drown out astroturfers.

As long as you read Amazon reviews with a critical eye, they are fine...

This is what I do. I check to see which people have actually bought the product and then I read all the negative reviews. So far I have not been stung. Read the negative reviews and then search elsewhere for reviews that support or disprove the review.

First post! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41038707)

First!

No (0)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#41038755)

If Amazon adopts Facebook, or Facebook adopts Amazon, then you have a real competitor.

Re:No (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41038853)

Did that idea just fall out of some old faggots ass? It sounds dumb as fuck and you've done zero to back up your bullshit. Fucking whore.

Google shopping (3, Informative)

Albanach (527650) | about a year and a half ago | (#41038775)

I'm certainly guilty of searching for products directly on Amazon, but usually if I want something quickly. I'll typically trust that the price is reasonable and Prime means it's on my doorstep in one or two days.

That said, if I want something I know will be expensive, or something even faster I prefer to check first with Google's shopping tool to get price comparisons or to find out if an item is available locally the same day. That's something with plenty of potential for monetizing and is much harder for Amazon to compete with.

Re:Google shopping (5, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039005)

Ditto. I shop amazon because, when you are using prime, it generally has an excellent total cost+shipping, an insanely fast delivery, and a uniform no surprises return policy with people who actually will answer the phone or e-mail. For everything I buy if it's within 5$ dollars I'll always buy it from amazon because it's just not worth the risk and hassle and susprise shipping charges, and slow shipments or return policies to get it elsewhere.

I used to shop around but I've found that amazon consistently has the near-lowest price, so why bother. Now for big ticket items I first go to amazon, then I check it out with pricegrabber or nextag ot a general seach to see if the price is about right before I buy.

Amazon is winning my loyalty not because I'm lazy but because they offer great service and quick painless shopping. I'd say their generous returns policy is what makes me less hesitant to buy there. Same reason other first class merchants like lands end, ll bean or even sierra trading post. no hassles and fair prices.

When I try to get too clever and get the very best deals I usually find I've wasted hours on the internet. My time has value.

Re:Google shopping (4, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039273)

Amazon is winning my loyalty *because* I'm lazy. And I'm lazy because I almost never find anything cheaper somewhere else.

I was actually really surprised to find my last purchase was $10 cheaper at a Wal Mart store. But it weighed 20lbs! I bet the prime shipping was more than $10 so it made sense to me. But I still didn't care--I bought it on Prime. It showed up at my desk at work ready to go. No driving, parking, waiting in line to check out.

The only other thing I haven't bought on Amazon lately is a board game which I found at a local store. But that was a case of "I only discovered this because I was in the store, I'm not going to be a douche and then buy it for $10 cheaper online after using their store for a discovery engine."

I simply trust now that Amazon has the lowest price. And I think they know that we are lazy. And as long as they fight to stay the cheapest they know we won't bother shopping somewhere else. If they got greedy and started exploiting our laziness they would just lose more sales from people shopping around. Amazon really really really wants people to buy *everything* through them and make up any loss of profit in volume. Keeping us justifiably fat and lazy is in their best interest.

And then like you say there is the great service and return policy on top of that. One of their shipments was once listed as "Delivered" even though I didn't get it. They immediately sent another one overnight so that I would have it in case the delivery company had trouble figuring out where it ended up.

Re:Google shopping (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year and a half ago | (#41040443)

A lot of things advertised on Amazon are from third-party sellers, and those third parties often have the same products cheaper on their own web site (where they don't have to give Amazon a cut). I've started searching for things on Amazon and then searching for the seller's official site - it's often 10-20% cheaper.

the one true business plan (1)

epine (68316) | about a year and a half ago | (#41044625)

I highly regret the 3 minutes of my life I wasted on that hand-wavy TFA. It's an important enough concept to warrant a TFA with meat on its bones.

I simply trust now that Amazon has the lowest price. And I think they know that we are lazy. And as long as they fight to stay the cheapest they know we won't bother shopping somewhere else. When they get greedy and started exploiting our laziness they won't lose enough sales from people shopping around at competitors with only a vestige of their former power.

The only business plan the truly greedy pursue:
1) obtain clout
2) milk it

The first step is 90% perspiration and 10% profit. The second step is 90% profit and 10% perspiration. Personally, I find the accumulation of clout repugnant to liberal society and I never participate in closed markets when I can avoid it. Not Microsoft then, not Apple now, not Amazon in the future. (I feel no shame on cherry-picking loss leaders when the opportunity arises, but I never sign up for the "loyalty" card that comes along with it. If the cherry is sour and only the loyalty is sweet, run run run as fast as my fingers will carry me.)

So you're content for now to trust the unsinkable nature of Amazon's price competitiveness, and of course you have you eye on the life raft should Amazon flounder on an iceberg of greed. Good luck to you when that day comes.

Re:Google shopping (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039421)

Amazon is the cheapest because a lot of their sellers are dishonest punks who advertise things like "new" and then send me scratched-up junk. Oftentimes amazon will refund the money on the spot.

Re:Google shopping (2)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039535)

Always buy stuff sold from Amazon themselves. It will save you this hassle and still be cheaper than most places.

Re:Google shopping (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#41042923)

Well it's hard to beat free. (After a seller sends you "like new" games that are actually scratched-up & amazon issues a full or partial refund.) Overall I spend about half as much money through the marketplace sellers vs. buying direct from amazon.

Re:Google shopping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41042575)

... and THIS, is how WE PR0FESS10NAL ASTR0TURFERS, roll. :-)

It aways pays to shop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41039021)

Doesn't always work - depends on what you're shopping for, obviously.

Many times for home items, Homedepot and Lowes beat Amazon - including buying from my local store. The same goes for autoparts. And if you use the online coupons. many times I can get the same or better deal for parts and tools at my local stores - and I can pick it up in 20 minutes. Gearwrench tools - I can do better locally most of the time. Although sometimes Amazon has wrenches that no one carries around here. Also, during Father's Day, the auto parts stores have these incredible sales on them.

None of the above is available on Google searches. You got to hit the individual websites or call the store. Especially for the home centers because they have local pricing that Google doesn't pick up.

Books. Some lower priced books are actually cheaper at my local B&N when you include the Amazon S&H. For example, many of the cheaper paper backs list for $12. Amazon will sell it for $10.99. Well when you add the $3.99 S&H at $14.98, it more expensive than paying the $12+tx locally - and I don't have to wait when I buy it locally.

That Amazon Prime has you catering towards them and not shopping as much as you should. Although, if you stream a lot from Amazon, the Prime program looks like it might be worth it - they actually have Season 2 of "Downton Abbey" and Netflix doesn't.

Re:It aways pays to shop. (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039075)

It still doesnt matter. If the product is sold by Amazon themselves, you can contact their customer service an have it price matched (and you get prime shipping). The customer service will go beyond their way to verify it (like call my local lowes) and get you their price.

Re:Google superstore! (2)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039095)

Google should skip the middleman, open their own nation wide store, deploy instant driverless VTOL drone drop box delivery right to your porch. Buyaah! All hail Google matrix. /s

Google lost me for shopping research (2)

mrmeval (662166) | about a year and a half ago | (#41040265)

Not getting rid of the spam results and in many cases catering to the spammers.

Pulling all reviews of everything and putting it on Gminus. I'm glad I'd deleted all of my review data.

Making 'shopping' pay to place. Again I'm glad I'd pulled every review they could try and make money off of.

Changing the way their system worked when it did well for the user. That more than anything was a slap in the face and showed that they do not care for their users, they care for their customers.

Amazon's search is superior for products. Ebay's is weak and pathetic in many cases.

google = parasite; Amazon = business relationship (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41040593)

Google is a parasite. I don't pay them directly for all the great things they do. I know that my data is their product.

Amazon has earned my trust. I pay them. My data is not the product. They don't have 15 minute return policies. When i tell them something didn't arrive, they believe me and send another. I do not abuse their trust either. I've purchased $0.50 items and $1500 items through Amazon. I've needed to return 2 products in the 5-8 yrs that I've been using them. The last return was very easy and free. Amazon gift cards mean my relatives never have to worry about getting me something I'll like.

Google searches for "products" is terrible. There are too many bogus and click-thru results returned. When shopping, I usually go to Amazon first, get a feel for what is available and probably add an item or 2 to my wishlist. For heavy items, shipping can suck. I do not have "prime." I can wait 2-10 days for most items. Certain heavy items don't make sense to order, but if there's super-saver-shipping, I'm on it. Picked up a new 1500VA UPS last week that way. Amazon was cheaper than Costco.

I have never bought an ebook through Amazon.
I have never bought an music through amazon.

Amazon is not always the best price - sometimes they have really bad pricing by 20% and more. Most of the time, computers are not a good deal on Amazon. Batteries are 80% used in my experience too - need a B-n-M store for those. Amazon doesn't always have everything you need either. Sometimes my searches don't find what I need, they only find what I ask for. I'm very good at searching ...

I'll keep shopping online - amazon, newegg, frys, meritline ... and at other reputable places, not at some random search result from google. I don't do ebay or paypal either - too dodgy for me.

Amazon has earned by trust.
Google is constantly stealing my trust and has been losing it little by little every time they try to dig deeper into my private life.

Re:google = parasite; Amazon = business relationsh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41042719)

Curious... How old are you?

Google tossed this away (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year and a half ago | (#41038777)

I have a prime membership, so why wouldn't Amazon be the first place to look? Free quick shipping is pretty compelling. I think that is a huge reason more and more people are turning to use Amazon as first search for products.

But also, Google totally tossed this away. I used to use Google first (even when I was a prime member), searching for *product name* buy. That used to yield a lot of great price comparisons. Google changed things so that product searches suck now, it pretty much never yields good comparison results.

What can Google do to get this traffic back? The only way, would be to become a better search engine...

Re:Google tossed this away (4, Insightful)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039107)

>> Google changed things so that... searches suck now

This pretty much explains why Google has jumped the shark. They have borrowed Yahoo's big "suck" filter and applied to everything they do. I want a substitute for almost every Google tool I use, and have found a few. More will be created to fill the voids Google is creating.

Still nothing beats them for general search though (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039263)

I want a substitute for almost every Google tool I use, and have found a few.

I kind of agree, but it's still impossible to replace them for search. I try Bing every so often, a few weeks at a time... it's still just not as good.

Also Google docs, so many people use them for sharing docs now I'd say it's almost impossible to supplant them in that area.

Re:Still nothing beats them for general search tho (1)

u64 (1450711) | about a year and a half ago | (#41044929)

I'm on Duckduckgo as my primary search engine. But for 10-20% of searches i did
g! query
But then i realized StartPage.com uses Google for the text results. And Startpage
has better results quality than G because there's no Google bubble-censoring.
Now it just do
sp! query

Startpage is a tad slower but here's an AdBlock filter to mitigate that,
||startpage.com/favicon.ico
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Re:Google tossed this away (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41039383)

+1

Google used to be great for shopping searches. Now it sucks. It works better to simply go to the websites themselves and do manual searches. I get far better results. Although the search on newegg.com has become something of a POS itself these days.

I hardly even use Google for everyday searching anymore. With all their copyright police BS, political correctness BS, favored site ranking BS, and "we want to be shiny" BS, their search engine is nearly totally fucked.

My guess is that the current direction of many sites/apps towards what I might call "functional failure" is due to having far too many UX dumbfucks involved with product design and development. It used to be that having a few mediocre product managers was bad, but adding so many grossly incompetent UX people has tipped the ship over.

Re:Google tossed this away (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039733)

It works better to simply go to the websites themselves and do manual searches. I get far better results. Although the search on newegg.com has become something of a POS itself these days.

I had wondered if NewEgg searches were getting worse or if it was just me... I look there too for any computer parts generally, and still order from them pretty often.

I hardly even use Google for everyday searching anymore. With all their copyright police BS, political correctness BS, favored site ranking BS, and "we want to be shiny" BS, their search engine is nearly totally fucked.

That's a really good point, I dislike seeing the "+1" stuff mixed into search results now, and as you say they are dropping stuff based on copyright issues... that's quite a blow to the core purpose of the thing, which is to just show me what is out there.

Re:Google tossed this away (2)

reboot246 (623534) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039889)

Same here. I used to use Google Shopping, but since they've royally screwed it up, I just head straight to Amazon to search.

I wonder why Google shot themselves in the foot. RIP, Google Shopping!

Re:Google tossed this away (1)

jmichaelg (148257) | about a year and a half ago | (#41041215)

I too have a prime membership but I cast a gimlet eye on Amazon's results when I'm buying. This afternoon, I dropped $100 at a 3rd party that I found with Google and paid with Google Wallet because Amazon's price was close to three times what I paid the 3rd party despite having to pay for shipping in the later case.

You have to realize that Amazon shades the prime prices to cover shipping costs - your $75 annual fee plus the profit on Prime products only works for Amazon if their prices are slightly higher than other folks who break out both costs. Sometimes, like today, the Prime premium isn't worth the price.

I'm currently shopping for a set of wheels for my bike and Amazon's price is nowhere near competitive. They're expensive so I'm taking my time finding a good deal before I buy - in those instances, Amazon tends to lose out because their target buyer tends to be price-insensitive.

not to worry (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41038789)

amazon's "search" is presented so poorly and the sort/filtering just plain doesn't work correctly that it's essentially worthless

Re:not to worry (1)

afgam28 (48611) | about a year and a half ago | (#41040001)

I often sort by price or average customer review, and yeah the results seem really random. However lately I've noticed two things.

When you sort by price, it seems to also take into account the price from other sellers. This means that products often appear out of order when there are multiple sellers. It might be the case that the sort is not broken. Rather, the way they preview the price is broken.

When you sort by "average" review, it doesn't actually search by the average review. It also seems to prioritize products that have lots of reviews. So for example, a 4.5 star product with 2 reviews appears below a 4 star product with 100 reviews.

My guess is that they know what they are doing in terms of sorting, but the way the results are displayed is a bit misleading.

Search bookmarks (1)

casab1anca (1304953) | about a year and a half ago | (#41038875)

Firefox's search bookmarks make it all the more easier to skip search engines and search directly on another site. I have search bookmarks set up for Wikipedia, Youtube and Amazon, which together cover most of my searching needs.

Google is getting fucked from all sides (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41038913)

or, alternatively, they don't have enough dick for all the ass they're trying to get. Think of everything they're trying to do, all the companies they're competing against. Then consider that their only profit center is from adwords, which depends on search. And their search sucks ass.

Too bad, I really wish they would drop all the extraneous shit and focus on search and be happy with the pile of money it brings in.

If Google was that afraid of Amazon (0)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#41038967)

they would buy it.

Re:If Google was that afraid of Amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41039111)

Ignoring FTC for now, how would Google buy Amazon when Amazon is worth half of Google's and Google would have to pay a premium to buy a controlling stake?

Re:If Google was that afraid of Amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41039121)

Amazon has a market cap of close to half that of google. Google can't afford to buy Amazon.

Re:If Google was that afraid of Amazon (1)

dingen (958134) | about a year and a half ago | (#41044541)

No, that's ridiculous. Amazon is WAY to big for Google to buy.

But I do agree with you that if they are that afraid of them, they should approach Amazon and team up. For starters, maybe Google could provide the search functionality within Amazon.com? Or Google Ads could provide Amazon's "related products" functionality. That sort of thing would be a great start for Google to make some money without having to compete with them head on.

Amazon's search quality is so appalling (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41038989)

that I don't think Google has much to worry about. It doesn't even attempt to take the join of the words you enter, and the results are returned in essentially random order, unrefinable and unsortable. It's not bugged. It's always been so minimally functional.

It *seems* to offer more at first glance, but it's only a false hope, and results rapidly go random again. The ONLY time a multi-word search actually works properly on Amazon is when the words match a product name exactly. All other uses are broken in varying degrees, and only occasionally return something moderately sensible.

A professional outfit couldn't possibly do search this badly by accident nor incompetence, so my guess is that Amazon has deliberately made it so primitive in the name of dumbing it down for the masses. This appears to have gone off the rails though, as there was no need to break effective search so completely just to make it accessible.

Re:Amazon's search quality is so appalling (4, Insightful)

kevinatilusa (620125) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039105)

If the balance right now is Google's superior search vs. Amazon's superior convenience/prime shipping, I think that still gives the advantage to Amazon.

Amazon can improve their search mechanism over time, but it's much harder for Google to match Amazon's advantages.

Re:Amazon's search quality is so appalling (2)

MrEdofCourse (2670081) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039323)

I totally agree. Amazon's search quality is just amazingly bad, and I keep thinking they're going to improve it some day, but year after year, it just keeps getting worse. I've actually used Google to search for products on Amazon.

However, Amazon search *will* get fixed someday and when it does, everything else about it is a better experience and usually for the best price.

Search is easier to fix, but Google could offer a competitive solution by setting standards and providing a cloud solution for retailers, both for shipping and local.

Re:Amazon's search quality is so appalling (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about a year and a half ago | (#41040207)

Yes and no.

I always use Google, because for almost any product search it returns two things, and it does it faster and more accurately than Amazon search:

- adverts, usually Amazon on top - pretty much the only time I *want* to see an ad.
- search results, with Amazon near the top. If the ad isn't exactly what I want, amazon search results are almost accurate.

I'll happily click the ads in this case, because it's relevant to what I actually want. Doesn't cost me anything, and gets me where I want to go faster.

Re:Amazon's search quality is so appalling (4, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039641)

It *seems* to offer more at first glance, but it's only a false hope, and results rapidly go random again. The ONLY time a multi-word search actually works properly on Amazon is when the words match a product name exactly. All other uses are broken in varying degrees, and only occasionally return something moderately sensible.

Ah, but when Amazon does eventually return the right result, it tells you the actual price instead of half the time claiming that a $2,000 printer costs $1.39 because some reseller also sell reams of paper on the same web page. And when the content is sold by Amazon itself (as opposed to a reseller), you can search in categories and get sorting of similar products by price, etc.

In the grand scheme of things, correctness is far more important to the shopping process than ease of searching. Getting better search results from a database is relatively straightforward. The hard part is getting the data into the database to begin with, and if your strategy involves spidering a bunch of e-commerce sites, you'll never be better than half-assed.

When it comes to product search, Google is screwed. It's only a matter of time. Their entire approach is just too completely wrong. It used to work moderately well when it was just a handful of computer product sites getting spidered by sites like pricewatch, but it doesn't generalize very well.

Re:Amazon's search quality is so appalling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41040713)

Is the parent of this comment the astroturfing that people are talking about in the summary?

I say this because it is the only comment that applauds Google's efforts amongst many others that bemoan it.

And what's more, the parent of this disagrees with my own searching experience with Google.

Google is no longer an aid to shoppers like it was.

I used to use Google Shopping a lot (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039117)

Over the past year or so, though, I've found the results becoming significantly less useful. So lately I've taken to doing my own comparison shopping directly on a handful of sites that I've come to trust - sites like Amazon and NewEgg (or, for photo stuff, B&H, Adorama, and sometimes Beach).

I know correlation doesn't equal causation, but timing-wise my growing dissatisfaction with Google's offerings overall has coincided with their increasingly stronger attempts to force us into using the Google Universe for everything.

Google Hostile Takeover of Amazon (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039175)

It has been done before...or

Google starts its own selective market of high volume products.

More than one way to beat a competitor.

Shopping online sucks (1)

RR (64484) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039211)

I don't like either option for shopping online.

Google sucks because they're only showing results for companies willing to pay to be listed. And the listings are filled with companies of questionable provenance and security.

Amazon sucks because their search engine is the worst. Sure, if you want to buy a specific book, it's fine. But search for a type of product, and they'll give you a lot of results that do not match the search terms, and they'll price sort based on Amazon Marketplace vendors that charge $0.01 for the product and $100 for the shipping.

The best is if I can go to a specialized store, such as NewEgg [newegg.com], and pay using PayPal, because then I limit the number of evil companies that have my credit card. Otherwise, if I know exactly what I want, then Amazon has my credit card on file, too, and has good shipping. Too bad I don't know the other industries very well.

Re:Shopping online sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41039327)

they'll price sort based on Amazon Marketplace vendors that charge $0.01 for the product and $100 for the shipping.

Click on the "Supersaver Delivery" filter. BANG! Vendors gone.

Amazon not necessarily the best place to shop. (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039289)

Well Amazon is great. However, not "necessarily" the best or even the cheapest. There's a ton of browser apps that will search prices for you. And they don't do a bad job.

Half the time you'll come up with prices lower than amazon. Of course you have to consider the company, return policy etc., but more often than not I don't buy at amazon like I used to anymore. Too many better deals elsewhere. Especially since there are so many 3rd parties on their site anymore. You really have to pay close attention to where it's coming from.

Besides, they don't take paypal. ;)

Re:Amazon not necessarily the best place to shop. (5, Insightful)

Skapare (16644) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039549)

Besides, they don't take paypal. ;)

It's a feature.

Re:Amazon not necessarily the best place to shop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41042409)

Shilling.for.paypal means ive looked.up the rdat.of.your.comments. paypal.is the evilest of thr evil banks.

How many people don't have a few favourites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41039401)

Here in the UK -- eBay, Amazon, Play.com and occasionally Argos before Google, personally, but mainly when buying media. Depends on the product.

The search still sucks at Amazon (1)

Skapare (16644) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039527)

But so does the product description. And that's probably why the search sucks. I can't always find what I want, or find out if what is there is what I want. For example, see item number 2 in my list of Things I want to buy [motre.net]. Or maybe no one makes good quality stuff these days.

This Has Been My Use Case for Some Time Now (3, Insightful)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039539)

I always go to Amazon first for product searching, then turn to Google for reviews. Google shopping is simply pathetic -- sorry Newegg and Nextag, never used you never will -- and their listed vendors simply can not match Amazon's pricing and turnaround -- especially since I am a Prime Subscriber.

Recently however, I've largely stopped even using Google for searching for reviews and comparative products since I've found Amazon's reviews to be more than adequate and with plenty of competitive products listed on their site.

Honestly, I think Google should reconsider their misguided foray into shopping -- it's just a ham-fisted ploy to capture data on the shopping preferences of their "user-commodities" and just doesn't stack up because it's a half-assed attempt at entering a market that they really don't understand and isn't core to their company.

Re:This Has Been My Use Case for Some Time Now (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | about a year and a half ago | (#41041989)

"Google shopping is simply pathetic -- sorry Newegg and Nextag, never used you never will "

Newegg doesn't charge tax in New York while Amazon does. So you are missing out on that.

Amazon mostly crap (0)

mr_boodog (2475366) | about a year and a half ago | (#41039831)

I just happened to do a search on new release on Amazon. I found the results to be filled up with series of tv bygones and rereleased dvds. Mostly junk as far as I am concerned. I usually search for recent releases and then grab the ones I would like with torrents. Nothing seems to give me a reason to buy as I will only watch once and delete anyways. However, techdirt has surprised me lately with some cool tshirts and they certainly do the Cwf+RtB. Between slashdot and techdirt, I wonder where online sales will really go in the future. Newegg offers the best in prices for tech, amazon has the biggest selection. Amazon and google are secondary tools for finding interesting content, but for the most part, nothing sticks out. Content creators would heed well that we don't want their ridiculous release windows and offer a reason to purchase at a reasonable price. Otherwise, I just don't give a ?*!# about their products.

Content (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41040283)

Content is important. Much of Apple's success is the huge catalog they have built to back up their products. In the Android space Amazon sells the most tablets by far, even if they are crap and end up on Craigslist shortly for less than half price. It scares Google that Amazon successfully took them completely out of the search revenue stream they specifically developed Android to monetize. Just like Apple showed the world how to build a modern mobile OS, Amazon is showing the world how to build better monetize Android.

Business insider isn't (1)

DCFusor (1763438) | about a year and a half ago | (#41040351)

They know very little, and if they are right on this - it's by accident. They are click-baiting totally, trying to get their falling readership to increase instead of what it's doing. I read all the major market rags every day, including this one - they have nice pictures. Their analysis is almost always dead wrong - use their info to trade markets only if you want to lose money.

Meet your new superpowers (1)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about a year and a half ago | (#41040385)

Apple, Amazon and Google all have fully formed advertising and sales channels for products. Amazon obviously has a much broader ecosystem, google ridiculous amounts of money and eyeballs, and Apple has the slickest appliances. Microsoft could do it, but they want to glue Windows to everything, which will be their undoing. Its time to blow that product up and start over. Facebook could have been a contender, until they screwed up their IPO.

Like the man said, follow the money. Everything is monetized through advertising...tv, movies, games, the internet, etc. All of that money is spent to build brands and to sell products. Wouldn't it be cool to skip all of those intermediaries and make and sell things directly through your own ecosystem? Consider what apple did with itunes and music, only spread that around to all media and products.

How 'bout if amazon gave you a high end phone, a high end tablet, and provided you with free service on both, as long as you're a Prime customer? Oh, and the whole interface is built to help you shop at amazon? I think you'll see it...next year or so.

Google might end up offering many people free internet, in order to study all of your internet traffic and stuffing you full of ads. I have to admit that free internet sounds good, but I feel a little squeamish about someone being able to see everything I do.

Amazon is not an ad agency (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#41043161)

Everything is monetized through advertising

No. Facebook and Google are monetized through advertising. Amazon is monetized through retail sales. There's a big difference.

One big difference is that mobile is a win for Amazon. Shopping by mobile works just fine and is popular. Facebook is struggling with the painful fact that nobody really wants to look at their irrelevant ads when catching up on their friends. On small screens, there's no room for that crap. Google has the advantage that when people are looking for products, they're receptive to ads about such products, so mobile doesn't hit them as hard. (AdSense, Google ads on other sites, now 30% of Google's business, may decline because of this.)

All the ad-based companies are competing with each other for a fixed pot of ad revenue. Amazon's competition is the entire retail sector, and, having conquered the book industry, they're now taking on other sectors of retail.

Wrong type of advertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41040447)

Most of Google's revenue comes from AdSense on other websites. The ads in its own websites generate only a small portion of the revenue. If their product suggestion advertisements are not bringing as much revenue as they used to, then that doesn't matter because it was only a small amount anyway.

A Plea to Amazon: Fix your reviews (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about a year and a half ago | (#41040471)

OP is right: The product reviews on Amazon's web site are incredibly useful. Whenever I'm considering buying a book - or even a toy - I head to Amazon.

But one serious problem the Amazon reviews have is they are getting clogged with people who give a product review full-marks and then say something inane like: "Shipping was very fast! Will buy again. A+++ recommended."

In other words they think they're on eBay. It means whenever you do check out a product review you have to wade through all these crap ones and also it skews the product scores. I raised this with Amazon a few years ago and the clerk I spoke to did delete some of them, but besides that they've sat back and let their product review database - something of great worth - fill up with crap.

For God's sake, Amazon: Fix these reviews. Tell people to review the product and not the wrapping, shipping time or the vendor. At least let readers have a button to recommend these inane reviews be checked and dropped, instead of having 31 people go '0 out of 31 people found this review useful.' How about you let us drop it entirely?

Re:A Plea to Amazon: Fix your reviews (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about a year and a half ago | (#41041121)

Removing customers' reviews will piss them off and could make it seem like Amazon is manipulating the ratings. Plus Amazon is cheap and doesn't want to waste too much time. Removing reviews automatically based on rating will result in fanboys taking down legitimate critical reviews in many categories

I stop using google for product search/review (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41041057)

Yes, I stop using Google to search for product / pricing and review - Google just go to a bunch of different web site
and no review or performance - I always end up at Amazon so why bother using Google?

So stop censoring your shopping results. (2)

Agripa (139780) | about a year and a half ago | (#41041405)

Since Google removed items related to firearms from their shopping results, I have simply made it a habit to use another search service. Why should I get used to using two different search services for shopping when one will do?

When looking for non-firearm items, I am more likely to just skip Google now whether I start with Amazon or not.

No HTTPS for Amazon browsing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41041727)

Why doesn't Amazon allow for HTTPS for browsing around, just as Google does? For instance, suppose you are in a coffee shop with your laptop. Wouldn't you like to be able to browse for books, knowing that nobody is snooping on your browsing? Amazon only uses HTTPS in rare instances, such as when you are ready to check out.

Or is there something I'm missing?

What can be done to convince Amazon to use more HTTPS? If Google can do it, surely Amazon can too...

Maybe They Should Allow Shopping for Firearms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41042243)

One of the stupidest moves that Google made is to disallow the use of Google shopping for firearms, ammunition et al.

Well, that and accepting the government's offer to work hand-in-hand with the NSA.

I don't get it (1)

funky_vibes (664942) | about a year and a half ago | (#41042529)

Is google selling books now or what?
It's not like anyone goes to amazon to search for pr0n or whatever.
Who still buys books?

Prime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41044195)

You all know Amazon Prime has a lot more to do with this than astroturfing, right? I can go to Amazon and get whatever I want for 3.99 one day shipping or no-cost two day shipping. It doesn't even enter my mind to "shop around" on Google because I'd rather get it faster. The only times I end up Googling instead is when something appears to be unusually overpriced on Amazon, and even then I often run into the price benefits being outweighed by the shipping cost.

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