Google's results these days tend to scrape the information from most sites + list ads on >50% of the listings page.
Really frustrating when Google doesn't even follow their own guidelines.
Google is saying that if you don't follow their guidelines, you "shouldn't" be included in their search results. They aren't saying you are committing some kind of atrocity, just that pages that do that provide bad results from searches.
Of course google doesn't want scraped results showing up in their search results. Would you want your search engine to show results from other search engines which show results from other search engines which show results from a page with a snippet which points to the real source?
They aren't "not following their own rules" any more than a train is braking the rules by being on the tracks in spite of the "stay off the train tracks" sign.
"As we’ve mentioned previously, we’ve heard complaints from users that if...it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away"
So, they recognize pages that are heavy with ads at the top, which push down the actual content, aren't a good user experience. That's exactly what I get when I search Google...a bunch of ads or other self-serving stuff on top, that pushes down the content (actual organic results) that I'm looking for.
Ad bids are multiplied by a quality score which represents how useful the user will find the ad to be. An ad for the company searched for will be very useful to the user, therefore having a very high quality score, therefore the advertiser pays very little to have the top spot.
A competitor on the other hand would get a low quality score, and have to bid a lot to get the top spot.
G knows the boardroom shitstorm that ensues when a CEO Google's the company name and sees a competitor outranking them (& that it looks like an organic result).
There's therefore tremendous incentive for brands to park some 'defensive' PPC budget (and it's never clear precisely how much you need to be spending and of course your spend will be anchored by your spend on generics), and a lot of incentive for other brands to try to outbid (even if the net effect of those ads is as display ads snd they don't attract clicks).
Consumers meanwhile, will just click the first 'paid' link, meaning that G is getting 30c for a link click the brand previously would have got for free.
Seems expensive for Nordstrom.
I'm sort of tempted to try this, but if so I guess I should start backing up my gmail account...
2. Google charges a fraction for bidding on your own brand/website.
That's sort of breaking with their original social contract that they were just a discovery tool - which is what the entire article is about.
Some may have expected Google to remain just a discovery tool. That doesn't mean Google owed them to do so.
I don't think this one social contract actually existed.
They can't make sure that none of them get in, but their guidelines are just warning that they may "wise up" at some point and if you break those guidelines you may find your site un-findable in google because of it.
Top 4 results plus the entire right half are all sponsored content. There was only one link shown on the without scrolling which wasn't sponsored.
Crap like this is why ad blockers are popular.
Otherwise, when Google finds itself breaking the "rules", they act:
- Google banned the page for Chrome for buying paid links
- Google banned an acquired company (Beatthatquote) for violating rules.
- Google penalized their Adwords FAQ pages for cloaking.
- Google reduced pagerank for Google Japan for buying links.
- Google removed Adwords support pages for keyword stuffing.
That is for all intents and purposes equivalent to an interstitial.
> The Business Insider story says that “it has been estimated” that Larry David is worth up to $900 million [...] Then it cites CelebrityNetWorth’s lower number, $400 million, and quotes Larry David denying he was worth even $500 million
The most valuable asset Google could possibly develop at this point is humility.
They've sacrificed countless customers, products and services on this altar, and will continue to do so probably indefinitely. They've decided they're going to live or die by the AI. Humans work there only to build, configure and maintain the machine. Every time I hear someone say "Google really needs to hire some <people>" or "Google needs to train their <people>" better I shake my head - it's like saying Ford should solve an efficiency problem with their cars by building boats.
Google is not going to do that, ever, and Google is not going to learn humility either. They're convinced they have it figured out, reality be damned.
2. Google is investing and doing generally useful applied AI, not an AGI moonshot.
3. Google's AI researchers are not 100% sure that AGI is just a few short years away.
4. Major source of income is advertisements. A lot of non-technical people work on this, allowing others to do more research and improve search.
5. Like said, AI is Google's DNA from the start. They are the biggest AI company in the world, and will die/be dethroned when they let AI research wither.
6. Avoid blanket humility, and lose hunger, innovation, dare. "At Hooli, nothing is ever impossible".
And since the most correct data point in Business Insider came from the curated source in the organic search results in the first place, the upper bound of the algorithm's correctness would have been the curated source anyway.
1. Some text from the Wikipedia article, correctly informing you that a tintinnabulum is a small bell on a pole in a Roman Catholic basilica symbolizing its connection with the Pope.
2. An image of a sculpture whose title happens to be "Tintinnabulum". The sculpture is of a naked woman riding on a penis-with-legs. The penis has a penis of its own, too. (Regrettably this doesn't continue recursively.)
I am fairly confident that nothing resembling that sculpture is to be found in any Roman Catholic basilica symbolizing its connection with the Pope.
If you use DuckDuckGo for "tintinnabulum," you don't get the girl on a penis, but instead a set of five possible definitions to narrow your search. When you click on them, you typically get the wikipedia box, but off to the right as an aside.
I really miss the world of Lycos, Yahoo, Hotbot, Dogpile, etc. If you didn't find what you were looking for, there were other search engines with different algorithms and different results.
Today if Google censors something (removed by DMCA request or government order, which can vary by country, etc. etc.) there are few other big indexes (DDG uses Yandex) to conduct your search. Their index is so massive that the cost of entry into their market is very high.
> A tintinnabulum often took the form of a bronze phallic figure or fascinum, a magico-religious phallus thought to ward off the evil eye and bring good fortune and prosperity.
So those images are showing tintinnabulums as well.
The photo would make a good accompaniment to the latter article but makes a very strange, er, bedfellow with the one actually quoted in the box.
I wonder whether Wikipedia's "Tintinnabulum" article should be renamed "Tintinnabulum (Roman Catholicism)" or something, and "Tintinnabulum" just take you to the disambiguation page, or alternatively whether those two pages should be merged into an article about small bell-like things, with sections on Ancient Rome and Catholic basilicas. Either way, there'd be less likelihood of a hilarious mismatch between picture and text in the Google answer-box.
Curious but admittedly eloquent variant of "nsfw".
This seems like the potentially most interesting part to me. Excerpting data & web sites to build a service without citing the source or giving credit seems like it could be a copyright violation.
The snippets case at least cites the source, and has a link to get you there, so even if it is damaging to a business it's probably legal.
While copyright does have exceptions carved out for copying small snippets of a work, e.g., for educational purposes, there's no clear line for copying all of a work in thousands of tiny slices that are published separately. Seems like an area where copyright law is due for a change as a result of all things digital.
You're bringing up a valid point - facts aren't copyrightable. And while I was talking about the bigger picture, I'd have to agree that this argument may be harder for the celebrity net worth site than others.
Compilations of facts are copyrightable, and a large amount of effort spent compiling the numbers does in fact strengthen their case. It's called the "sweat of the brow doctrine", and copyright cases have been decided in favor of people primarily due to their efforts.
I speculate this doctrine does apply to sleuthing celebrity net worth from a variety of sources. But nobody knowns until it goes to court, and it depends on the quality of the lawyers as well as the nitty gritty details about how celebrity net worth gather their data.
Either way, the bigger picture is that regardless of whether the celeb site lives, there may a problem with the way Google is doing business.
>The United States rejected this doctrine in the 1991 United States Supreme Court case Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service; until then it had been upheld in a number of US copyright cases
(which is what I remembered from my IP law class ;-) )
But sweat of the brow doctrine still applies to collections of facts when some creative work has been done, and does strengthen a case when there has been more sweat.
The case of the celebrity net worth site is one that is not a mechanical reproduction of facts. They are not a phone book, they are doing research and estimating net worth using implications. Their work is not single-sourced, but based on what they say is a wide variety of sources, some of which may not be publicly available. Who knows, some of it might be unsubstantiated rumor, or even "creative guessing". Just on the face of it, there is arguably enough creative work in what they're doing to satisfy a copyright claim. I doubt they're interested, and I don't think it'd be easy. I don't speak for them, I'm not a lawyer, and I don't recommend it. But to my eyes, it's not out of the realm of possibility.
I've often thought about this in the context of data collected by major sports leagues. They sure are very vocal with their legalese about how they hold all rights to use any of the data that they collect, but I have a strong suspicion that if someone with deep pockets held their feet to the fire, they may not like the result. The PGATour's ShotLink data is an example that comes to mind.
The EU, on the other hand, has a special copyright for databases.
It may be OK in the US "fair use" system, where it's up to courts to decide what's okay – I don't know the case law well enough.
But just a few years ago, Google's ads would appear in a sidebar, clearly separated from the search results content.
Not everyone is able to tell the difference today, and I think Google exploits this. I recently activated a new B2B website for an client and the senior manager was an older gentleman in his 50s. He never uses the browser address bar to navigate to websites, preferring instead to use the Google search box on his homepage. He sent me a panicked email saying when he typed in the new website's name, the Google search results showed competitors' names ahead of his. This was well after Google had crawled the site and it was showing up on the results page.
As it turned out, he did not understand that the first few results he was seeing were ads. While he isn't a savvy user, I would wager that many, many people are similar to him in that they don't exercise good judgement when they're on the web and would easily be fooled into thinking that something like "proton therapy" is a cure for cancer because it's at the top of the search results.
That screenshot is pretty shocking. That's an insane amount of pixel space dedicated to the ads, then the Google featured snippet and finally the actual search.
The point that they've slowly made changes over the years to make the ads look less like ads is very clear though.
They've also generally done a lot of work to push the organic results down. It's very easy to find queries where there's no organic result showing above the fold, even on a fairly decent desktop monitor.
Proton beam therapy is not widely known, which might explain the scare quotes in rchaud's comment suggesting that non-savvy Google users "would easily be fooled into thinking that something like 'proton therapy' is a cure for cancer because it's at the top of the search results".
I detest ads, so it feels weird to write something like praise for this one. I guess I dislike quackery even more. Now I want to try similar search queries to find other cases where a Google ad suggests a real treatment amid all the bullshit in the non-ad search results.
Having a data structure with an entry in it is not the same as knowing something with an acceptable level of confidence.
This is basically automated Chinese whispers. There's no sanity checking, no peer review, and no reality testing.
Here's one where absolutely NOTHING above the fold is a good idea. http://imgur.com/a/RXABg
Play stupid games, win stupid prizes I suppose.
However, I don't see the logic in picking one of them and highlighting it. It has the appearance of an endorsement.
I would also argue that the ads are deceptive for this query. Surely there's some AdWords policy about that?
I guess the main problem is with voice search, since you only get the one result.
The only question remaining for me is why Googlers still enjoy the respect of their peers. It was fine in 2000, nobody knew how it would turn out. Today, we need to start disrespecting the kind of person that would still work for that company.
Google has incredible PR/marketing. And this isn't just a public-facing engagement. Google seems to do an incredible amount of inward marketing. The same high quality rhetoric that sells a large amount of the public on the notion that Google is a good company trying to make the world a better place works even better on Googlers themselves.
Bear in mind, Googlers are provided food and amenities on campus, which keep them surrounded by the Google mindset most of the time. One of the funniest things recently, on another site, was getting a response from someone condemning my post about pay equality by a "Googler with a Googler wife". Many Googlers friends and family are also Googlers... that's where they spend all of their time. So there are plenty of people at Google whose entire social circle comprises of other Googlers. And that's before you talk about the fact that Google is paying them to be there.
That's a huge amount of social pressure, and a huge amount of bias in what information they take in and how they interpret it. If their entire social and financial structure is built around a single entity, I suspect it'd be fairly difficult for the ordinary person in such a situation to leave. I don't fault individual Googlers for the direction of the machine.
A movie called The Circle comes out in eight days, and I suspect it will be quite worthwhile on this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUlr8Am4zQ0
"Unleash the drones!"
By that point whoever they originally talked to probably got their promotion and transferred to some other part of the company, or quit for somewhere else. If they're still doing the same thing, the person who made the decision to go ahead and take it was probably on some very similar but rival project.
Or most likely everyone forgot, or didn't have any awareness that it happened. They didn't case out a building, they added a symbol to a list. I'm guess they only asked in the first place because they didn't have the technical means to scrape it all before.
They hardly take away traffic from sites, as people are saying. That's just flat-out wrong.
Example search: eye of round steak
Result: Eye of round is irredeemable cut of meat.
To be fair, that is actually fairly accurate.
Google UK gives https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Round_steak
Possibly this is because in the UK (and presumably wherever you are) we don't call that cut "eye of round" (it seems to be from roughly the same part of the cow as our silverside), so we're googling to find out what it is, whilst in the US people are googling to find out how to cook it.
the featured snippet is completely incomprehensible (and embarrassing)... they just don't seem to care enough.
"is it a good idea to build a business around trivia answers?"
if your entire business model could be upended by a collection of 1 line wikipedia edits, then it seems like the problem is in the inability to forecast.
Try: status flight 111 american airlines
That used to result in a visit to aa.com
Now they are way below the fold at around #6 or so.
Google isn't planning just to eat up traffic for trivia sites.
It's handy, sure. But it does take away a customer interaction that AA used to get.
from my perspective as a consumer, Google is providing the information I asked for, in a clear simple straightforward manner.
You seem to agree.
Then you will just talk to Google, the gatekeeper.
The best Wikipedia could do is (manually or automatically) scrape a site like celebrity net worth for information, linking to its estimates, if wikipedia editors decided that it was a notable/reputable source.
Your suggestion to the celebrity net worth company rings hollow after reading the article: the people Google to get the information and get the information at the top. Now there is no opportunity for the celebrity net worth company to offer a reason to visit the site! When the people had to visit the site, then there was a chance for the site to drive further engagement.
Paul Graham's Net Worth Will Leave You Speechless
But in the Floyd Mayweather example, his site is mentioned in the blurb so in a way he is credited with it.
If he doesnt want to be in the snippet, then tell bankrate and every site that mention you to take down that mention.
if he doesnt want his site to be linked to from any snippet, just add Google to your robots.txt
dont want to do any of the above? ah... now we see he doesnt really have a legitimate complaint.
This is all on him. Is what Google is doing shitty? Yeah. But at the same time it's almost insane that this guy knew his research could be boiled down to a single number (which is clearly displayed on his website) and his whole business model was getting Google traffic. You can't rely on an informal agreement with a titan of industry and expect to have any bargaining or negotiating power.
<meta name="googlebot" content="nosnippet">
"No sweat, just chop your arm off"
Featured Snippets are not damaging to businesses. In fact, I've seen businesses benefit greatly by getting a ton of more traffic by having them. They get more leads and sales, and more ecommerce conversions.
If you’re trying to rank for the answer to a question like “What is Larry David’s Net Worth?”, and the answer literally is a dollar figure or a “quick answer”, then I have no problem with Google “stealing” your traffic. In fact, if the answer is “$125 billion”, and Google can give searchers that answer without having to go to your website, then sobeit. What do you expect that visitor to do anyway when they get to your site? They’ll leave. They’ll hit the back button. They’ll bounce, because your site is focused too much on short, quick answers. How about creating some real content, content that will make visitors stick on your website and view more than one page?
I would be more concerned about the Google cache (for scraping) rather than a Featured Snippet.
Go ahead and get a featured snippet (or earn one) and you'll see the massive traffic increase and trust your site will get.
If you're concerned about them scraping, really, then go ahead and just block Googlebot from indexing the site.
According to the article which we are supposedly discussing, the site in question got its traffic reduced by half after the snippet was added to the Google search results.