Should Google Offer Its Own Services as a Tip?

    January 4, 2007

I have been watching the latest spat against Google for offering “tips” on services and products that they offer, when some web searches are input into Google.

The interesting part about this is that I don’t know a company out there that would not be overjoyed to be at the top of a Google search results page, but what about the competition?

Unfortunately there is no easy answer, and waiting to see the impact on this one is really the more likely scenario.

If you type in Blogs, you get a paid ad, and then you get the tip for Blogger, then you get everything else on the page. Most folks click on the first link that they are presented with, it’s a great way to drive traffic.

But Blogger is not the only company out there, there is Live Journal, Word Press, and a host of other smaller blogging companies, including the blogging function in Drupal. Same thing with “Sharing Pictures” you get paid ads, then a tip, then Flickr, then a host of other links that are about meaningless to sharing pictures. We know that they changed the results algorithm over the Christmas holidays, and basically it has hurt the quality of the returns that Google offers.

Again the idea is that most people would pay very good money to be there, but in many cases, if this was Microsoft, people would be freaking out, and they are having a huge issue with Google’s latest move on line.

For a company that has a high ethical bar, and to “do no evil” well as one person puts it “to do as little evil as possible” lately, the problem with Google tips as a search return is really something that while good for Google, is bad for everyone else who makes competing products.

Mostly because of the way that people use search engines, which is click the first link that does not look like an ad, and Google tips does not look like an ad, it looks like some friendly useful information on the subject. Most likely this has driven a marked and noticeable increase to Google owned internet real estate and Google services or other products.

The question is with this process now in effect, the interesting part will be to see what loss of traffic that competing products and services will see. That will be the real test of what impact Google Tips is going to have on the market.

Unfortunately it’s still too new to be able to have any reliable statistics, although we know the outcome of the algorithm change based on reports from Boing Boing and a host of other web sites who suddenly found themselves off of the top 10 results as a return. Yet a lot of folks are predicting the standard mayhem when something changes fundamentally in a company as popular and as important as Google.

Someone along the way is going to come up with a cease and desist order against Google for this one, as it could be considered anti-competitive, and could open the door to some form of monopoly response from the government. Especially if competing services can show a marked, sustained and real drop in users, visitors, or how ever metrics are being kept for that web site or web service.

2007 promises to be just as interesting as 2006, and this is one of those cases that will be very interesting to watch as web sites start showing real numbers, and the impact that Google Tips is going to have on business.



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Dan Morrill has been in the information security field for 18 years, both
civilian and military, and is currently working on his Doctor of Management.
Dan shares his insights on the important security issues of today through
his blog, Managing
Intellectual Property & IT Security
, and is an active participant in the
ITtoolbox blogging community.