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How Google Can Make or Break A Small Business

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the something-to-think-about dept.

The Internet 352

securitas writes "USA Today's Jefferson Graham reports on how Google affects small business through its rankings and text ads. The feature describes how the fortunes of small companies turned when their Google ranking rose or dropped, as well as the effects of Google's paid search text advertising model. Search Engine Watch says that Google now performs an estimated 80% of the searches (200 million) on the Internet every day. The result is that Google has become a critical part of any online marketing strategy and has spawned a whole Google-optimization industry where consultants can charge $5,000 per site for tweaking. The feature is light on technical details but the stories of those who prospered and suffered due to Google make a good read."

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352 comments

PH33R MY L33T FR1ST-PS0T1NG SK1LLZ, SLASHF4GS (-1)

Can it run Linux (664464) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191721)

FP FP FP FP

Propz to CLIT members and other anti-Linux trolls.

FP FP FP FP

Re:PH33R MY L33T FR1ST-PS0T1NG SK1LLZ, SLASHF4GS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8192016)

jo0 r teh gay! L1nuX is teh 1337 roxor! Your FP 5ki11z are nothin mroe than luck!

Propz to all the 1337 L1nuX h4x0rz who fight teh good fight!

Google Adwords (5, Interesting)

glinden (56181) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191727)

Google's AdWords [google.com] program is remarkable in that truly anyone can buy ads. Small businesses with tiny marketing budgets can buy ads easily. Individuals can buy ads. The interface is simple and easy to use. Google even has a bunch of small business friendly features like limiting your cost per ad and total daily ad spend.

I've bought a bunch of ads on Google, most recently for my startup, Findory News [findory.com]. Most web advertising is expensive, difficult to set up, and performs poorly. But, because you can pick such specific keywords with Google Adwords and the advertising engine refuses to show ads that don't perform well, you can easily get in front of people that might be interested in them.

Re:Google Adwords (5, Interesting)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191765)

And from the webmaster side, the adwords is fabulous. I have been getting referral emails from companies who have generated actual sales from ads displayed on my sites. The nice thing is that my sites are all niche and usually wouln't see much ad revenue. However, with the targeted ads, we're all winning.

Re:Google Adwords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8191782)

And it works too. I click on the ads all the time.

Re:Google Adwords (5, Funny)

zippity8 (446412) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191807)

Or, alternatively, you could advertise on /. by snagging the first post! =P

Re:Google Adwords (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8191951)

This brings up a good point. Howcome /. hasn't been ruined by the same kind of spamming that ruined Usenet? Why aren't we seeing tons of links to advertisments or even the text of outright ads posted as regular posts themselves? Could it be that /. is removing those types of posts? I doubt it becuase it would be too time consuming. But for the advertiser, all they have to do is generate a script that will ht Slashdot multiple times with AC ads. Ok, so 10 per day from IP, but... imagine a Windows based worm that targets... /.

However (1)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191845)

Those ads depend on people clicking on them. If the percentage drops below a certain level, the ads disappear.

Now I may not be an advertising expert, but how can advertising be designed to depend on what other people do?

Re:Google Adwords (5, Interesting)

goalive (729667) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191863)

I agree, Google Adwords are an excellent resource for any business whose goal is to sell something. In addition to that however, the Adwords are also useful to Webmasters particularly because they are always context-sensitive when they appear on a web page.

In other words, if your webpage text contains a discussion about "intrusion detection systems" it is highly likely that your Google ad banner will have up to four different companies that sell such devices or software. The advantage is that the Webmaster can offer valid commercial links to his free discussion and often make 25-cents per click; the advantage to the retailer is that they have higher exposure and a greater chance of selling their product. The disadvantage to all of us, unfortunately, is that we're still stuck with banner ads long into the forseeable future.

Regards,

Re:Google Adwords (1)

cluckshot (658931) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192003)

I am sure that people advertizing anywhere need to be most careful about the presentation techniques. I do believe that the real issue here is access to this information. It is probable that we need some legislation that regulates the way that this information is made available so that anyone can obtain the strategy data for Search Engine Listings and buy accordingly. This is not intended to regulate how but to regulate that it be told how to do this. Otherwise the selling of space on a search engine is always a crapshot and may actually constitute fraud by the search engine if they advertize a service and deliver otherwise.

This problem of listing serices playing games is pretty old and always seems to be a problem. I think we come to accept it when kids in school get set down by the Alphabet of their last names and called first by A etc.

If we don't find a better way to handle this shortly, there are going to be real problems for those who get listed last by names etc. They may even have a case in that why should a listor get the last listing if the index factors are last by some factor the listor cannot control.

Thanks for telling about a strategy that works

Ah the good ol' feudal days have returned... (4, Interesting)

Xpilot (117961) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191733)

...to cyberspace. So go ahead businesses, pay tribute to your new Google overlords.

Newest version of the Google Toolbar (1, Troll)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191870)

and in a new twist, the latest version of the google toolbar returns results with the page one results being filled with nothing but ads related to the search. you have to go to page 2 for the standard results.

so the google toolbar, which is pretty cool because of the simplicity in design of the p[opup blocker, now has been twisted into a major marketing tool. Thankfully I have an earlier version I can use to install on client machines.

no more downloading the most recent version from the website.

Re:Newest version of the Google Toolbar (1)

Tet (2721) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192134)

the latest version of the google toolbar returns results with the page one results being filled with nothing but ads

Speaking from a position of ignorance, what is the Google toolbar, and why would anyone use it? I'm guessing it's like the somewhat annoying Google search box in Firebird and Galeon.

gotta say it.. (1)

tommck (69750) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191989)

...So go ahead businesses, pay tribute to your new Google overlords.

I, for one, welcome our new Google overlords!

No... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8191737)

Why blame google when you can blame yourself? If you can't compete, start looking for other jobs.

Re:No... (5, Insightful)

nial-in-a-box (588883) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191877)

This AC raises a good point, as it is not really Google that is impacting businesses but rather individuals' choices. Google might increase or decrease your exposure, but it's just one of many advertising options (even though it is rather unique in this sense), and that's just one part of what makes a business successful. Google has become quite powerful as a tool because it can find most anything, however, it is not without its flaws. Ads create a small bias in the system, but that's how Google makes money. In any event, I'd take Google over anything else out there simply because it looks and works the best. And if anybody thinks anything is questionable about Google, just look at the others.

SECOND POST (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8191738)

fag hat I CALIM THEISJKDAN DOKJ I AM DRUNKdfsdfsdfsddsff sdfsd sdf sdf sdf

$5,000 per site (4, Insightful)

thedillybar (677116) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191740)

This isn't that expensive. If someone could move my site to #1 for relevant searches, I could easily generate much more than $5,000 in revenue as a result.

Go Google!

Re:$5,000 per site (3, Insightful)

relrelrel (737051) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191882)

then why don't you pay the $5k and make a profit? oh wait, you don't really believe what you're saying do you? no..

Re:$5,000 per site (4, Insightful)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191884)

Always be cautious when hiring an "expert" to optimize your site. A lot of "experts" recommend tactics that used to work but can now get you banned on Google.

Simple. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8191741)

You either get first post or you don't.

Re:Simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8191777)

Unfortunately, you don't.

It's simple (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8191746)

If you rely on another business so much that it can make or break you, it's time to find a new business model. It's not Google's responsibility to send traffic to your site, and I'm sick of people complaining about Google being unfair as if there's some magic entitlement to good rankings.

well, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8191750)

I for one welcome our search overloard.

I'm a google optimizer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8191751)

I work as a consultant specializing in google optimization. It's a very lucrative field, out-of-work /.'ers might want to consider it.

I'm VERY good at what I do - I get about $25K per site, and no one has regretted buying my services yet. You might not be able to get as much as I do because you aren't as cyberspace savvy as I am, but you can still do well with a little bit of smarts.

Re:I'm a google optimizer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8191768)

You, sir, are nothing more than a SPAMMER, and deserver to have both your cranium and all your boxen readjusted with a LART.

Use the Lunix, and teh Lunix shall set you free.

Re:I'm a google optimizer (0, Offtopic)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191821)

Oh Anonymous Coward, you charm the ladies with your sensuous trombone playing!

Re:I'm a google optimizer (-1, Offtopic)

Rhubarb Crumble (581156) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191977)

Oh Anonymous Coward, you charm the ladies with your sensuous trombone playing!

Ah, but does he build suspension bridges in his back yard?

Just put some actual information on the site! (2, Insightful)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191752)


Co-owners Ken and Tom Carlton spent $200 a month to get an ad for their
business to pop up when someone searched for "roll forming," a process that
turns metal into different shapes.


I bet an article on "roll forming" would have worked just as well. If someone wants to find a SOAP client for GForge [gforge.org],
typing "gforge soap client" into Google puts you where it should - right here [infoether.com].

Seems like this is being made a bit more complicated than necessary....

it really works! (4, Funny)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191758)

it's true and i can prove it -- we dont use google adwords, and we're going absolutely horrible! XD

Reassess your business strategy (4, Insightful)

Narcissus (310552) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191770)

I'm sure it'll be said here more than once this discussion but the fact of the matter is that if the life of your business depends on your Google ranking I would say "Don't be annoyed when it drops and breaks you: be thankful that it was up there in the first place, giving a chance to a business that obviously has no other hope".

Re:Reassess your business strategy (4, Insightful)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191885)

And if you were "on top" and find yourself lower, that's an indication that maybe you should pay for the ads rather than trusting to luck - they're not that expensive anyway.

They miss the point, feel Google owes them (4, Insightful)

blorg (726186) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191911)

I completely agree. I do SEO and AdWords for my company, and we are doing massively well out of Google. But I read far too many people who got good Google rankings, feel like Google owes them, and get very upset if their ranking falls, such as when it changes its algorithm [webpronews.com]. They forget that Google's business is not to drive visitors to their sites, but to provide the best search experience for the user.

(Ok, technically their business is to sell as many AdWords as possible, but they do this by being the no. 1 search engine, and they are that because they provide the best search experience for the user.)

Re:Reassess your business strategy (1)

dustmite (667870) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192013)

Yes, they should instead be thanking Google for the times when it is sending them lots of business.

The secret formula (1, Funny)

russler (749464) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191784)

1. Start new small business 2. Tweak google. 3. ??? 4. PROFIT!

Re:The secret formula (1)

Sir Pallas (696783) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191858)

So the Underwear Gnomes are on the internet now, eh? I'll have to keep an eye on that. (Does it feel drafty to anyone else?)

How Apple can make or break a business (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8191785)

1. You don't Know any better
If you're ACTUALLY reading this page, looking to be informed as to why you "need" to switch to a Macintosh, chances are you don't know a damn thing about anything - especially computers. That's why you need a Mac, because you just don't know any better! You don't know how to make your PC run, so it's easy and comforting to accept the "fact" that all your problems are Windows related. Heaven forbid you think for two seconds that all of your encounters with BSOD's/viruses/cluttered HD's/etc be the product of OPERATOR ERROR! My dear lord, it can't be!

2. It matches your curtains!
You don't have time to sit and worry about whether or not you're getting screwed, paying more for less power and performance... and why WOULD you worry about something like that? The fact is, you wouldn't, and you won't have too: you'll be too busy mulling over which color iMac will best offset your periwinkle comforter - it's Feng-Shui the Apple way!

3. Switch, or we will rape you with an iPOD!
No, seriously... we'll do it. We've done it many times before, that's how some of us at Apple got to ride the Segway early. You should've SEEN Kaman's surprise. P.S. You will NOT like the fire-wire-reach-around either!

4. Firewire means "Faster Lolitas!"
If you're the kind of computer user that worries about the feds raiding your shit-hole apartment every time you drop off a roll of film at 'The Wal-Mart', then you NEED a Mac. Stop spending time in a sweaty state of paranoia, and start spending it organizing those compromising photos you took during that "work-related" trip to Japan. With iPhoto, all your twelve-year-old-school-uniform-clad-plastic-prop-t entacle-rape porn will be easier to organize than your scant black book!

5. Never worry about "other programs" again.
With PC's, users tend to find themselves overwhelmed and inundated by all the "choices" they have. Which program is 'best' for burning CD's? Which program has the 'features' I want or need when it comes to playing movies/mp3's/my photos? You need not worry your pretty little soul thanks to Apple, as a Mac user, you've got the following programs at your fingertips: iTunes, iDVD, iMovie, and iPhoto! Should you want to, say, use a different program for any of the functions, simply utter the following to yourself in reassurance: i-Fucked...

6. Sits on your lap for a couple grand.
It's like a high-class lap dance. For about the same price, your Mac will provide you with more warmth, entertainment, and interactivity than that RealDoll you purchased a while back. Now, instead of sitting in your parents' basement using their PC, you can be using your iBook... in your parents' basement...

7. See all those pretty icons over there?
It's true; all of those icons represent some of the premiere Internet applications. From web browsing, to instant messaging, some of the finest software available on the 'ol WWW even have Mac Versions! Sure they may run a little slower and require gobs of ram if you want to have, say, more than one open at any given time; but they're AQUA THEMED!

8. Office is Office, and then some
You can run Microsoft Office on your Mac. How about that? Leave your current office suite behind... for, umm... OUR Office suite! Yeah, that's the ticket! Beyond Office, you'll find you can run more than 3,000 applications designed specifically for Apple's new operating system, Mac OS X. You can do anything you'd dream of doing on the Mac -- from CAD to databases to finance. Unless of course you want to, oh, I don't know... play a fun game? Or, load a flash website in under an hour... or, put something on a goddamned floppy without a USB device... oh, sorry, tangent police! *cue sirens*

9. Works effortlessly with PCs
Compatibility is important, no doubt, and Apple has not allowed our own foolish pride to overlook certain standards because of this. That's why we've made sure our every Mac is in some way compatible with the most popular computing platform in the world! Now you can be rest assured that when you're making the switch to a Mac you won't be completely left out in the cold by the rest of civilization. Sure they'll point and occasionally snicker when you can't find a decent FTP or Telnet client, but you just remind those types that you "Could if you REALLY wanted to!"

10. It looks like a child's bicycle helmet with a billboard attached to it!!!
Check that shit out! 'Eh? 'EEEHHH? What now bitches? I'd like to see you try that with your PC Mr. Gates! MUAHAHAHAHAHA! Suck on that why don't ya? With a chinstrap I could turn my flat panel into a mobile-money-maker! GENIOUS! SHEAR GENIOUS!!!

We think you owe it to yourself to experience a Macintosh first-hand. Check out the high-performance PowerBook. The ultra-fast Power Mac G4. The oh-so-portable iBook. And the beautiful new iMac. Come see one at an Apple store or one of our resellers soon. You'll find the Mac can answer most of your questions itself... because chances are you are VERY simple minded, and your questions will be like, "Can I get one in fuchsia? I like me some fuchsia!..."

Use Vivisimo.com instead ... (0)

Hotbeef (749143) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191802)

I was one of the first people to use google years back when it first came out, and it was better than anything else out at the time (in my opinion). It is difficult to get ranked on google anymore, but I'm managed to get a front page display for my website www.cgff.net [cgff.net] but it's been a lot of work.

The next latest and greatest craze, in my humble opinion is Vivisimo.com, except it's not an easy word to remember at first. It's a great search engine though, it not only ranks pages, but breaks them apart in groups so when you're doing a search for something, you don't get 5000 pages of porn before the topic you're looking for actually shows up. Give vivisimo a try and get the word out to your friends as a viable alternative to searching.

Enjoy

Google Alert (5, Informative)

airjrdn (681898) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191808)

Helpful Tip:
I use Google Alert [googlealert.com] for my personal site. I use it to track when other pages link to my site.

Per their About page:

With Google Alert, you can automatically keep track of anything on the web! Google Alert is the web's leading automated search and web intelligence solution. It runs daily Google searches for you and emails you when new results appear. Many people use Google Alert to keep track of what the web is saying about them, their interests or projects they are involved in. You can use Google Alert to keep track of any time someone mentions your name on the web. You can also track mentions of your website, your place of work, or your favorite hobby or celebrity -- the uses are limited only by your imagination. Click here for some great search ideas and some useful tips. The Frequently Asked Questions provide more detailed information about Google Alert. Selected as BBC's Website of the Day and USA Today's Hot Site, the free Google Alert service enables people in over 120 countries to stay up to date with their interests. Users include journalists, marketers, IT professionals, lawyers, doctors, salespeople, educators, researchers, and government employees. Click to start using Google Alert right away - it's easy and free!

Re:Google Alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8192115)

is it clear to anyone else that this was writen by marketers and not regular people? how does that make you feel?

Diversification (4, Insightful)

zensufi (743379) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191813)

Here we have another example of the danger of focusing on one entity to provide a product or service. Microsoft has the same issue. One security hole in IE can create all sorts of problems for the majority of the population.

Similarly, people have focused on Google as a search engine (for similar reasons - it is "user-friendly") and as a a result we are beginning to see the problems inherent in this approach.

Re:Diversification (2, Insightful)

SilentT (742071) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191957)

Similarly, people have focused on Google as a search engine (for similar reasons - it is "user-friendly")

Yes, google is user-friendly, but (unlike windows) it's also the best of its kind. I don't think that google's dominance is a bad thing. I can't see any disadvantages in google being much more popular than the other search engines that are out there.

Re:Diversification (4, Insightful)

savagedome (742194) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192031)

You are missing a key point. When MSFT products have a problem (not the social engineering problems like MyDoom), its largely due to defects within their own.

The problem with Google searches comes up because of people intentionally taking a crack at them. Litigious Bastards anyone? [scom.com].
Even miserable failure [google.com] still works.

Re:Diversification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8192085)

The problem with Google searches comes up because of people intentionally taking a crack at them. Litigious Bastards anyone?

Did you realise that just "litigious" or "bastards" by itself will now also bring up sco.com?

Man, that's one impressive Google-bombing.

Great article now som genius will want to regulate (-1, Flamebait)

MajorDick (735308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191819)

Watch out before the Democrats want to Regulate it, and other search engine , if for no other reason than A)They Can B)Its just not fair for everyone not to be equal.

Tounge in cheek, of course

Re:Great article now som genius will want to regul (1)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192064)

If that made any sense at all, the yellow pages of the phone book would already be regulated.

It won't be the Dems - it'll be Bushie Boy ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8192119)

And the other Republicans that feel that all thought should be centrally controlled for the sake of Homeland Security

Ironic (5, Funny)

Sir Pallas (696783) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191823)

..that the add that came up (for me) on this article was an add for Google AdWords. After what happened to the fractal website recently, maybe this is the start of a war: Slashdot now knows that Google too has the power to slashdot. That would truly be the war of the Two (server) Towers: Google googling Slashdot; Slashdot slashdotting Google. Oh, the humanity!

Re:Ironic (1)

Slack0ff (590042) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192070)

Im not quite sure how big each companies pipe is, or how many servers they each have. But I would have to put my money on Google. Google probally gets enough hits aday to perform a dos attack on most companies.

Manipulating Google (1)

glinden (56181) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191846)

There's been a number of interesting attempts [bbc.co.uk] to manipulate Google results. Google is always struggling to determine which links into documents represent real interest in that document and which are merely shills. It's a never ending war between the search engines and those who try to manipulate them. Google has even been sued [msn.com] by companies who have seen a decline in their page rankings.

Foreclosure (1)

LEgregius (550408) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191849)

A friend of mine has a business helping people who are about to have their houses foreclosed on and/or with debts they can't manage. His business was booming while his site was at the top of the list on google for certain key words.

The company he was using to keep his google ratings up went out of business. It took him a while to find someone else, but in the mean time he nealy went out of business. He has never quite recovered from that.

Re:Foreclosure (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191923)

Yeah, I get spam from your "friend" all the fucking time. Tell him to go to hell. I hope he goes out of business.

Google needs to tweak too (5, Interesting)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191853)

Lately I've been noticing that the first five or so hits on searches like

"Compaq iPaq battery"

are URLs that look like this:

http://www.suppabiz.ws/search/results/compaq_ipaq_ battery.html

Of course said page contains ads for something else or is just a redirect/popup trap.

Google really needs to use their mad skillz to counteract this. Their algorithm is being screwed by the same type of people who brought us BonziBuddy and all that other worthless shit on the web.

They came up with the best search engine - I'm sure they can stay on top. But I wonder if they've even noticed, given the massive amount of data they must deal with.

Google doesn't owe you a living... (4, Informative)

weave (48069) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191859)

Google is providing a service. If you don't like it, you can buy up adwords. Paying some sleeze bag to trick google into ranking you higher is risky and could fail as Google constantly works to try to make their rankings as fair as possible and defeat these tricks.

If you want to spend money on better placement, send it to the people who are providing the service -- Google -- and buy up ads.

Who to blame (4, Insightful)

CKW (409971) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191981)


In the information age with transportation systems as they are, ideally there should be increased "economies of scale" and business should move to those who provide the best value (whatever combination of cheap, service, support, quality and product is optimal), and the huge massive amount of duplication of effort will be eliminated.

Unfortunately that *entirely* rests on consumers making educated choices and migrating to a small subset of "best of breed" service/product providers.

The fact that they aren't, and that Google rankings and adwords has this effect - is entirely due to the fact that consumers are stupid.

Don't blame Google. Blame stupid consumers.

Re:Google doesn't owe you a living... (2, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192046)

Exactly. Or even better, do the one thing that is almost garenteed to get you better placement:
provide meaningfull content [wolfram.org] which deserves to be ranked highly in a search. If your site is the best source of information about foo, then more people will know that you sell foo, and will trust that you know what you are doing.

Google does it right (5, Informative)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191862)

I've paid for ads on google to try it out, and was pretty damned pleased.

The process was simple - you tell it what words to bring up your ad, how specific like "games" versus "pc games" versus "first person shooter pc games". The more generic, the greather the chance of getting clicked, but the greater the cost. The ad is unobtrusive - just a text link (not a gigantic banner that will offend everybody else).

You can specify how many ads to pay for in advance. So if you only have enough money for 1000 clicks, it stops at 1000 - and you can either renew, or just leave it be.

Overall, it's just simple. The article mentions the bed and breakfast "Honeymoon Haven" or whatever that was worried about the service - I'd tell her not to be worried at all.

And I think that's why Google is doing the best so far: it's simple. No huge Yahoo like directories that make little sense, or extra ads cluttering the way. It gives me what I want, and if I want more, I click on it.

Perfect? No - some sites are optimizing themselvers to annoyance, like entering "'resident evil' walkthrough" and getting in the top 10 links annoying search engines or porn sites adding words and linking to each other to build up their Google score. But for 90% of the time, it's "good enough".

google feels good in my shorts (-1)

cornholio_hehehe (739161) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191869)

he he *snort* yeah thats right *snort* he he in my shorts. can you say janet jackson he he *snort* google this!

Google and the man .... (1)

lake2112 (748837) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191879)

Google has become the man. Do you really want to sell out your business, just so the man puts you on top of searches?

Search engine feng shui (1)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191887)

Search engine optimization is like feng shui. You can influence the chi, but you can't control it. If $5000 could guarantee you #1 placement, it could guarantee your competitor #1 placement. In businesses where there is a lot of online competition, even if Google results were predictable, you'd still have a tough time.

break yourself (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191893)

This study documents how Google can make a small business. And obviously a large business needs Google placement, to handle its scale of commerce. But how does a lackluster Google result break a small business? If your bizplan requires high Google placement, given the inherent, unmitigable risk in being ranked by another company. you've got a really risky bizplan. That is what is breaking your small business, not Google itself.

Chicken and Egg problem. (2, Insightful)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191894)

I have seen this first hand.... but to blame google is wrong.

The problem is these businesses chose to depend on google and only google for their web hits...all their marketing eggs in one basket, so to speak.

We saw it too (0, Troll)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191896)

Two of our sites flat vanished from Google during the last change in the way sites are ranked. Ours had good keywords and descriptions too. Didn't matter at all.

I guess it's just part of the way things are done(tm) with computers. Every few months, everything breaks and you start over. Glad other industries don't work this way. We'd still be living in caves.

It's a wonderful way to run a business too: like running a neighborhood hardware store that teleports 500 miles every six weeks.

Re:We saw it too (1)

diablobynight (646304) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191994)

I bet you were one of the sites that got blocked because you were filling pages with invisible text, or other such offenses that google won't stand for.

Re:We saw it too (1)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192034)

I bet you were one of the sites that got blocked because you were filling pages with invisible text, or other such offenses that google won't stand for.

No.

We put keywords in meta elements, and keywords in the title. We have a short descriptive paragraph on our main pages. We just made sure our keywords and key phrases were popular and relevant to the site, and they were. We don't have invisible text or unnecessarily repeated words.

Site used to be in the top 50. Now it's not even in the top 200, and we don't have a lot of competition.

Re:We saw it too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8192058)

Perhaps Google should publish the "offenses" it "won't stand for" so people can fix their sites. That would make it a lot easier to avoid spamming the search engine instead of this process of "guess the filter."

Search will be a commodity soon (2, Interesting)

polymorpheus (748411) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191897)

This effect is temporary. With Yahoo! and MSN entering the search business in a serious way, internet search is well on its way to becoming a commodity and it will again begin to look like those with the big bucks can get their ads where they want: at the top of the results. How is this really different from sponsored links or "pay for placement"? The only difference is who's getting paid for what.

It seems that Google is also less concerned with search quality then before -- just compare their quailty with some of the newer, less heard of, engines. This leads me to conclude that Google's putting their efforts primarily into approaches where they see very large margins, such as content-based (adsense) advertisements.

80% (1)

LafinJack (9054) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191902)

Is that www.google.com searches alone, or does it count searches on all the sites who use Google software for their searches?

Antigoogle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8191904)

The next logical step then will be to strive for the goth/underground/burnout market, by being *completely* unknown to Google. Your company name, URL, and even your line of business generate no results in Google. Nobody links to you. You just gotta know the URL.

I bet that's tougher than it sounds.

About Our Google Overlords (1)

jdadlez (723665) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191907)

I run a retro candy website, www.zootcandy.com, and I get bombarded with ads and phonecalls from companies telling me they can improve my rankings. I use Overture, Findwhat, and Looksmart and they help quite a bit.

Using these services eats up your ad budget very fast but what else can you do? This is the way search engines make their money now and those free listing areas are getting muscled out whether you like it or not. It's only going to increase.

Recommend Google Alternatives? (2, Interesting)

humandoing (237262) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191912)

I love google... It is my home page in my browser. I use it 100 times a day. But sometimes the results don't cut it, or seem to be in a different direction than what I am looking for.

Does anyone have recommendations to some good alternative engines? I used to use altavista, askjeeves, hotbot... but I don't remember the last time I got really useful results from them (maybe cuz I haven't used them for a couple years). What about those apps that you can download that search numerous engines?

It is interesting (scary?) to see how much a business can be affected by the algorithms and voodoo of an entity such as google. What I find about myself as well, is that if I am looking for a store or business that provides a certain good or service, I always go to google (or mytelus [mytelus.com], gag...) to search for it. I don't think I even go to any sort of specialty shops or businesses anymore unless I have found that they have a web site that doesn't repulse me. Anyone else find themselves falling into these sorts of habits?

The world changed after all (1)

El Volio (40489) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191929)

This is what's changing the world. Everyone remembers those old IBM ads about global e-business or some other buzzword. Now we're seeing the reality: a relatively small business can greatly increase the scope of its market and compete with big boys. The trick has always been to overcome the power law effect [backspaces.net] and move up the curve. Google is a phenomenal equalizer in this respect: write a good ad, put a good site online, and (most importantly) have a well-run business that does its job well, and you can go somewhere because, externally, you can give the same or better impression to customers as your larger, less-savvy competitor. The .com boom and bust didn't disprove this plan, it only made it more clear that at the root of the business there has to actually be a business.

It's like the Cluetrain Manifesto [cluetrain.com] is proving itself out after all.

Ughh... (1)

djrogers (153854) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191938)

No wonder my google search results are getting worse and worse. Take for example a search for a new Sony 34XBR910 [google.com]. The first few pages of results are filled with 'pricing and reviews' most of which are set up to funnell you to a vendor. Used to be a person could plug in a search term and get *real* reviews, consumer experiences, writeups, forums, etc. Now it's all commercial junk...

Makes me very sad, as I love Google. Hate to see it get gamed so easily!

Yellow pages can make/break you for much more $$$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8191948)

Stop complaining. Small businesses can pay $50,000/year or more just for their yellow pages ads. And they won't guarantee your ad will be the biggest or anywhere near the front of the list.

If Google works so well, it's worth dedicating company resources for managing your place on the list or paying for your adwords. Google is still a better advertising deal then most.

Well.. (1)

hookedup (630460) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191970)

Being on a couple 'adult webmaster' boards, I can tell you, whenever google does a shift, EVERYONE freaks out.
There are always the people its good for, but it seems to screw with a lot of people over too. But hey...that's the business

Google Good! Google Bad! Google uh.. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191984)

Google Good:

Use Linux on cheep pc farm

Simple interface

Hightlights cool stuff, like Fractals and Einstein's b-day with modified Google graphic and link to searches.

Images

News

Groups

Privately owned and free from evil influences (aside from those of ownership)

Cached stuff is way nice when sites are obnoxious or pages missing.

Google Bad:

Can crush your site like a grape if you're not ready for traffic

Selling out, selling words

Included lots of (subscription) news services without ability to exclude them (I know, it's free and I'm whining, but I think it's getting worse and I'm not about to subscribe to 200 news sites to see a picture of Jackson's boob)

Groups take too long to post messages and some groups not available.

Google is too much power in one place (3, Insightful)

bludstone (103539) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191998)

I love google. I use it every day. It is an oracle and a home for all of human knowledge. The greatest archive in history. Period.

However, all of this is only owned by one company.

Does anyone else see the danger here? 80% of the internet uses google for searches. Think about this. 80% of people use the same service owned by the same people.

I am wary.

Luckily, google has a track history of being a fantastic and fairly honest company. But how long until someone that works there becomes too greedy.

There is a serious danger in having so much power centralized to one service. I commend google for creating the greatest source of knowledge in human history.

I just worry that, maybe, we'd be better off if we had some more options, in case google turned sour.

Surly SOMEONE can compete with google.

Re:Google is too much power in one place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8192090)

there are plenty of other search engines out there that are almost as good as google, and more major players entering the field imminently. a monopolistic control of information probably isn't of issue here.

Re:Google is too much power in one place (0, Troll)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192129)

Then create your own, you parasitic, socialist troll. You, and other web surfers like you, MADE FUCKING GOOGLE WHAT IT IS TODAY. It's The Hangman all over again.

Isn't that a sign of a poor business? (1)

GreenCrackBaby (203293) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192002)

I think the ideal type of business that is made for online sales is the type of business that meets a niche market. This fits in nicely with many niche communities (e.g. hobby sites, slashdot, etc) that exist online. If you depend on Google to bring people in, then your store is either too generic, or not advertising correctly.

For example, what do you think would be the most effective advertising for ThinkGeek.com:

1. A google addword for "xyz geek term" or

2. A banner add on slashdot

High Water Mark (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192020)

"Companies pay because about 80% of Internet searches are performed with Google technology, says online newsletter Search Engine Watch. That's 200 million searches a day, whether on Google or on affiliates such as America Online, Yahoo, CNN.com and USATODAY.com."


I think everyone, anyone and especially EFF and Groklaw need to remember what was stated in that report.
80% is a huge portion of any market and all related market research to determining this number should be held onto by interested parties. It may become very handy after longhorn is released... imagine the dent to the 80% figure embedded IE will have when 100% of it's users will be directed to MS's search serrvices.

So while this data may cause for a lot of rooting, tooting and backslapping today, in a couple years it could be the basis for yet another MS anti-trust suit.

We've seen drops (1)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192022)

One of our framed sites where I work mysteriously dropped from page 1 to page 20 or so in the Google rankings, though we can't think of anything that we've done that can be considered search engine spamming. We've fixed all the minor possibilities we can find though, and will just have to wait for the next re-index.

We're thinking of buying into Google ad-words. A large percentage of the people who go to our site buy our products.

Trust in Google? (2, Interesting)

QAPete (717838) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192039)

People need to be careful when making conclusions over what they get from a Google search. One example: Google won't even correctly spider my site (which gets approximately 275,000 page views per day) and list results, although I have given the green light to Googlebot in our robots.txt file. Google News, in particular, rejected our application to be spidered at all. The semi-automated reply said that our content needed to be on separate pages, not in a 'digest'. Strange, we have it as both...

I wouldn't even venture a guess as to the amount of web content that Google doesn't display, given its limitations.

Scripted Sites (2, Insightful)

O0o0Oblubb!O0o0O (526718) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192055)

It seems hard for a small buisness to fight for a good page rank with all those scripted sites flooding Google with irrelevant Linkexchange or other sites that get you nowhere near your desired information. This is especially true since Google gives those pages a higher rank that contain the keyword in the url (hence all the blabla?cheap+shoe+store) links).

Judging from my personal impression Google has become less useful lately...

just my 2cents

searchers vs. searchees (2, Interesting)

bfields (66644) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192077)

There's obviously been an arms race developing for a long time between the people running queries and the people with sites that might be returned by queries. Has anyone thought about what the likely endgame is? To me it seems possible that good impartial search engines are just doomed. How can you write algorithms that automatically read pages and determine their relevance to particular subjects in the face of web-page creators who will do anything to get ranked highly?

And it's not enough for your ranking method to be a little bit obscure or hard-to-understand; any search engine now has to face the prospect that the economy is capable of supporting smart poeple to work full time on figuring out how to break your ranking algorithm.

It's not hard to imagine a future where any search engine is either manually maintained (like the various web directories) or completely advertiser-run.

--Bruce Fields

Google needs accuracy and fairness (2, Insightful)

nuggz (69912) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192087)

Google is popular because it works.
It seems to give good results, and seems reasonably fair.
The paid links are clearly identified.

If google started being unethical, or giving bad hits it would be less valuable.

Their only competative advantage is accurate results, they must keep it.

in an unrelated note (0, Offtopic)

Loco3KGT (141999) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192095)

justover18.com continues to a lower ranking than barely18.com on booble.com.

Adwords -Clickbots (3, Interesting)

Camel Pilot (78781) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192131)

I have been investigating what kind of protection or filtering Google and Overture provide against clickbots and competitor clicking. I am still evaulating Google but Overture (now Yahoo) does very little and will only take action against click fraud if you push them on the issue.

Here is a paper [perlworks.com] describing my exchange with Overture on this issue. Summary of paper:

Overture claims to provide "Click Protection" for their pay-per-click advertising service. In reality they fail to prevent the most basic and easiest to detect non-authentic clicks - that is competitors clicking on competitors. They do not even filter out a customer clicking on their own links from within the Overture manager. Nor do they provide a method for an advertiser to test their own ad rendered URL's - a necessary function as a means to test the validity of an entered URL.

Since filtering out such clicks would be simple and straight forward using established cookies or session id's - I can only speculate the reasons for not patching this obvious flaw and question the "sophistication of Overtures "Click Protection".


Since then I have determined by researching one of my own pay-per-click keywords is that Overture will filter out a client that has a cookie if it clicks more than once every 30 minutes.
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