Grow up Google!

Googles core business is basically to copy content from our websites and exploit it commercially. In Search Engine Land today Google cry like little girls because they claim Bing is copying their search results. Grow up Google! If it’s ethical for you to copy information why is it unethical for others to do the same?

I agree with Harry Shum, Corporate VP at Bing in his comment today that the reason search and the web works is because of “collective intelligence”. He admits that Bing does use clickstream data as one out of more than 1,000 different signals to create the best index and he suggest that all engines should do the same (and probably do).

If you don’t know anything what I am talking about then I suggest you read the two articles that I link to above. They explain the case well.

There are a lot of funny and interesting things about this case …

One more Google hoax!

First of all there is the experiment Google ran last year when they suspected Bing was copying some of their top search results. Google claim that they made a special piece of code to be able to boost a specific web page to the top of search results for one particular keyword just to run this experiment. They have to say so because they have always claimed that they don’t have the ability to do so. It is al algorithmic. Right, as if we believed that..

We all know for sure that Google have the technical ability to manually de-rank specific websites. You don’t need to be a very experienced SEO to know this. I don’t even think Google ever denied that – although they prefer the world to think that all is done algorithmically.

I do not believe that Google made that knob go just one way! Off course they can promote sites too. And I don’t even see a problem with that. Google should do whatever they think will create the best search results. Period.

The people I have talked to at Bing never tried to hide the fact that they can promote individual sites. They do this on very prominent searches and big brands if the best results are not found algorithmically. Off course its best if the algorithms can handle it but they will never be perfect. I actually think it’s kind of childish of Google to hold on to the claim that they do no manual tweaking. It’s a bizarre type of geeky arrogance.

Google further claim that after they ran this test they removed the “boost code” – trashed it, so that they can no longer do this. Who – other than clueless reporters, believe this? I don’t.

Who is copying who and what is illegal?

Google have not said that they consider what Bing is doing illegal. Apparently they are not sure about that now. Neither am I. It could off course turn out to be illegal. I hope not. But in any case I think its OK to do. Google on the other hand say that they think its very unethical.

Googles Amit SinghaIt’s is quoted for saying: “It’s cheating to me because we work incredibly hard and have done so for years but they just get there based on our hard work,”

Just how is that different from Google (and all other search engines for that matter) copying our websites that we have worked so hard on for years?

Is clickstream data valid and ethical?

Google also say that they would never use clickstream data like Bing is apparently is doing. But this is not entirely true. Last year Google announced that they now collect site speed at the user level with the Google Toolbar and use this directly in their ranking algorithms. Just as one out of many signals – just like Bing use data from their toolbar as one out of many signals. The only difference is that Google “steal” from us – Bing “steal” from Google.

Why did Google break the news?

Google started their research last year – and apparently got the final data long time ago. Why do they break the news now – on the very same day that Microsoft is hosting a search conference? Could it be to just tease Microsoft and set the agenda of the day? Or is it and attempt to drive away the recent weeks increasing media coverage on bad search results in Google?

One thing I am pretty sure of is that it is not by coincidence. Google are very skilled in PR: I don’t think Google was trying to tease Microsoft but I do think Google is using this to remove the focus on bad search results.

I don’t think Google made a smart choice in this case. It is very dangerous for Google to pull the “ethics” card. It is very easy for search geeks and journalists to find many examples of Google acting much more unethical than what Bing is doing in this case. Google could loose that battle seriously.

Also, I really hope Google will not move forward with a legal case. That would be ridiculous in my mind and undermine Googles own operations in the long run. We don’t need more restrictions of how to improve our collective intelligence – we need less!

Skrevet af:

Mikkel deMib Svendsen er grundlægger af og fungerer i det daglige som kreativ direktør.

Kommentarer (13)

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  1. Thomas Watson siger:

    First of, BOTH Bing and Google “steal” content from the websites to show it in the search results – That’s kind of what search is all about. Second, when doing so they give back in form of visitors. Even if you don’t like that, you can just opt-out. Bing doesn’t give back to Google nor enable Google to opt-out. I’m not taking sides with either Google nor Bing – I just think your arguments are a little on the thin side.

    Weither they previously had or didn’t have the ability to boost certain results is speculation. Programmatically there is a BIG difference between removing a site (re-rank as you call it) and boosting it – it’s two entirely different things. Just because they can do one thing doesn’t mean they have implemented features to do the oppersite.

    Did they trash the code after the experiment? You might be right here. They have it somewhere ;)

    • Mikkel deMib Svendsen siger:

      Yes, all crawl based search engines are based on copying other peoples content without any prior agreement about it. Whether or not you get something in return is not really relevant for the case. The fact is that they copy without consent.

      Bing actually collect data with the toolbar with some kind of consent. Users agreed on it in the terms when installing IE or the toolbar. And Google too in their Toolbar. Realistically noone ever read it though – but from a legal point of view they do have consent. The crawlers don’t.

      > Weither they previously had or didn’t have the ability to boost certain results is speculation.

      Not if you have been in SEO as long as I have seen all the things I have :)

  2. David Bullock siger:

    To start off with, the search engines’ business is not built on copying content. Their business is built on indexing and ranking content.

    The no-archive meta tag and robots.txt directives are very well documented.

    • Mikkel deMib Svendsen siger:

      I am sorry to disagree with you :)

      First of all you don’t have to – from a legal as well as ethical point of view, opt-out of something you never opt-ed in to in the first place.

      Secondly the no-archive tag does not prevent Google from making a copy of my website – it only asks them not to show a cashed version to the users of Google. Google still copy and save it and use the information in it to create their index – which is their core product and the basis of how they make money.

      • David Bullock siger:

        But that’s not how they make money…

        I think you’re confusing crawling/reading with copying. They’re not copying your content any differently than a user “copies” your content by reading your website. By publishing you’re essentially inviting visitors (including Google).

        They make a copy (crawl/read) during indexing. They don’t distribute those copies, or make them available for sale or consumption. The index is not a copy of your content, it’s an analysis of your content and it’s relationship to other content.

        The way Google makes money is through ads and services, not copying or stealing your content. Search engine results pages (SERPS) are not a paid service. Ads in the SERPs are. Being profitable in the ad business requires them to create an engaging useful service (SERPS) to draw eyeballs for the ads.

        Neither involves copying your content beyond reading it the same as any other consumer.

        • Mikkel deMib Svendsen siger:

          I think you are totally wrong. Search engines DO copy my content, they DO store it, and they DO use it to base their business and make money.

          I am not syaing this is wrong. If you think so, read my post again :)

          What I am saying is that it is no different than any other player in the market, copying or reading signals on the web and mixing them up to present a unique experience based on collective intelligence.

          Bing does that and so do Google and thousands of other great web services.

          We need more of that – not less. In this case it seems Google is figting for less. And thats rediculous. Plain and simple.

  3. After reading your article I would say I have to agree with you. Google can’t complain if they are doing the same thing. I don’t know if its illegal but its definitely hypocritical to “blow the horn” on Bing like they are. In most other cases I feel Google tries to do the ethical thing but in this circumstance its kind of obvious that they shouldn’t be complaining about Bing pulling anything from them.

    • Mikkel deMib Svendsen siger:

      Bing is not actually taking anything from Google – they are taking something from the users. Through the toolbar and IE – that people opt in to use, they track which pages user go too – including Google.

      And as just one out of over 1,000 signals this data probably have a very small impact – all in all.

      Likewise, all the engines today are also monitoring the social medias to use that as another signal – they are in a way benifitting from the hard work the social medias do

  4. Jack Snack siger:

    I agree with the previous poster. When you publish content to the internet, you are inherently providing permission for people or machines to read it. The rendering of a page is a creation/copy process.

    You are not distinguishing between a business service and a process.

    • Mikkel deMib Svendsen siger:

      > When you publish content to the internet, you are inherently providing permission for people or machines to read it

      There is a difference between reading something – and then systematically harwesting things and using it commercially in a repackaged version.

      Googles acting in this casy is hypocritical – you can’t on one hand argue that creating an index on other peoples work, and taking in signals from social medias and others are OK – but reading signals anywhere close to Google is not.

      Personally, as I try to say in the post, I think we need more sharing of signals and data to improve our collective intelligence – not less, as Google seems to think in this case.

  5. This is a very prominent experiment that Google has undertaken and I can’t help thinking they’ve shot themselves in the foot.

    Essentially they’ve given their main rivals a massive press – it’s been all over the news and media – and can only have given exposure to Bing.

    Personally I have cut down usage of Google by at least 50% over the last year. It’s ok if you want wikipedia results or spammy link farm pages but their search results are now so skewed that anyone using Bing or yahoo might now think again about going back!

    It says “Google Is Worried” and I think they really are having gone down a cul de sac with their results.

    • I have not used Google products at all this year. Yanking them out of my computer and off my website last year was one heck of a tough job.

      My well-documented dispute with Google is about Google Checkout. But yeah, on the search front, I’m better served by Bing, Duck Duck Go, Ixquick, and Yahoo.

  6. [...] to the feud. While many Google loyalists have been defending the search engine giant others, like this blogger, think that Google decided to release the results of their experiment now to overshadow some of the [...]

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