Thursday, November 24, 2005

Google launches Google Space at London's Heathrow Airport

Google is testing Google Space at terminal one of London's Heathrow Airport. This can bring some extra advertising revenue to Google as Heathrow gets a lot of traffic.
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Monday, November 21, 2005

"Google don’t care about the security of our data": Jim Ley

Google apparently didn't plan properly any of their new services.
1. Google Analytics (formerly Urchin web analytics) suspends new registrations as Google can currently no longer handle the load. If you go to the Google Analytics signup screen, the following message is displayed:

Google Analytics has experienced extremely strong demand, and as a result, we have temporarily limited the number of new signups as we increase capacity. In the meantime, please submit your name and email address and we will notify you as soon as we are ready to add new accounts. Thank you for your patience.

2. Google fixes a privacy flaw in Google Sitemaps which allowed people to look at just about anyone's statistics. (David Naylor)
3. Last, but not least, Google also had a security flaw in their Google Base services.

Instead of running after launching "me too" products in a hurry, why can't this company test and scale products fully before releasing it to public? This certainly does not make Google look like a company with smartest brains in the world.

Jim Ley, who is credited with discovering some of the flaws writes:
Like the yahoo programmer last week, the incompetent google base programmer had simply taken a parameter from the querystring, and written it unencoded into the document. So a query<script>alert(1)</script>&a_y427=0&a_s427=0&a_r=2 performed the alert, this was fixed about 5 hours after I reported it, showing again that google don’t care about the security of our data enough to not release clearly insecure software.

Google's Vanessa Fox, said in a blog posting:
When we first started showing statistics a couple of months ago, we put a system in place to prevent anyone other than site owners from seeing stats for a site. We ask each site owner to place a unique file on the site and then we check to see if that file exists. When we do that check, we first make sure that the server isn't misconfigured to return a valid page when a request is made for a page that doesn't exist. We only verify sites that are configured correctly. You can read more about that process in our documentation.

Unfortunately, with our latest release, a bug prevented this process from working correctly. We fixed this as soon as we found out about the problem. We take your privacy very seriously and are currently investigating other approaches to further enhance security.

IMHO, I don't believe the bug was introduced in the latest release, rather I believe the bug went undetected until it was reported, but again, that's just my opinion.

Google patches its Google Base software

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Smart Google ... or are they? -- Online dating companies sued

Google Ireland: Turnover: €359 million - Proft: €2.74 million is reporting about Google Ireland making revenues of €359 million but only making a net profit of €2.74 million after tax. From the article:
An effect of the arrangement is that Google Ireland, the operating company, made an after-tax profit of only €2.74 million on a turnover of €603 million. It had operating expenses of €359 million which are understood to include the royalty payments to the other Irish company. Google Ireland paid Irish corporation tax of €1.6 million.

Having studied auditing in college, I would for sure love to look at the financial reports of Google Ireland. I tried searching, but so far no luck (benefit of moving to Ireland?). As I locate the original statements I will talk more.

Yahoo! Personals service and are being sued in two separate lawsuits by online daters. According to this and this report, both lawsuits claim false profiles created by companies. is also being accused of misleading their customers base.

A lawyer representing Los Angeles law firm Arias, Ozzello & Gignac LLP, which brought the suit against, said in a statement:

"This is a grossly fraudulent practice that is engaged in"
and that "promotes the policies of integrity to protect members, and yet they themselves, we allege, are misleading their entire customer base."

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Yahoo Shoposphere - Truly Innovative

Today, I noticed that Yahoo! Shopping has launched a very cool and innovative, social shopping service, . Here is an interesting comment posted on Yahoo Search Blog:

I today got a chance to check Google Base and Yahoo!'s Shoposphere. What I saw at Google Base was disappointing to say the least. Just splogosphere version 2. I searched for some test keywords and already found thousands of pages of homepages. Not worth my time at the moment. May be later things will improve.

Yahoo's Shoposphere is a truly innovative and not a "me too" product. Kudos to David, Gupta and the entire Yahoo! team for something that is truly innovative.

Good job. Keep it up :)
Frank Mash / SoftwareEngineer99

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Google search history to be used as evidence in murder case is reporting that Google searches (search history) will be used as evidence in murder case. According to the news report,

Robert Petrick searched for the words "neck," "snap," "break" and "hold" on an Internet search engine before his wife died, according to prosecutors Wednesday.

It's good that there is some evidence to hold the person responsible but people need to be aware of privacy concerns of Google keeping an extended search history of every search ever performed.

Read more at and

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Google Advertising and Organic Results - Then and Now

A better search engine would not have required this ad, and possibly resulted in the loss of the revenue from the airline to the search engine. - Brin and Page

Google and advertising, two words that were conceptually hard to put together just a few years ago. Today, Google reportedly is the top media company generating billions in profits and exceeding investor expectations.

For good or bad, Google has changed.

Advertising and Search Engines - Then

This causes search engine technology to remain largely a black art and to be advertising oriented (see Appendix A). With Google, we have a strong goal to push more development and understanding into the academic realm. - TASE*

Brin and Page wrote in TASE

Currently, the predominant business model for commercial search engines is advertising.

This couldn't have been more true now. Looking at Google's SERPs, it feels like Google has been hacked by advertising world.

Through the following statement, Brin and Page communicated to us that having advertising as the primary business model of a search engine may not always result in quality search results.

The goals of the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users.

"Advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers" - Larry Page / Sergey Brin
And then...

It is clear that a search engine which was taking money for showing cellular phone ads would have difficulty justifying the page that our system returned to its paying advertisers. For this type of reason and historical experience with other media [Bagdikian 83], we expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers.

Forgetting who "deserves" to be there

Brin and Page wrote in their paper:

Since it is very difficult even for experts to evaluate search engines, search engine bias is particularly insidious. A good example was OpenText, which was reported to be selling companies the right to be listed at the top of the search results for particular queries [Marchiori 97]. This type of bias is much more insidious than advertising, because it is not clear who "deserves" to be there, and who is willing to pay money to be listed. This business model resulted in an uproar, and OpenText has ceased to be a viable search engine. But less blatant bias are likely to be tolerated by the market. For example, a search engine could add a small factor to search results from "friendly" companies, and subtract a factor from results from competitors. This type of bias is very difficult to detect but could still have a significant effect on the market. Furthermore, advertising income often provides an incentive to provide poor quality search results. For example, we noticed a major search engine would not return a large airline's homepage when the airline's name was given as a query. It so happened that the airline had placed an expensive ad, linked to the query that was its name. A better search engine would not have required this ad, and possibly resulted in the loss of the revenue from the airline to the search engine. In general, it could be argued from the consumer point of view that the better the search engine is, the fewer advertisements will be needed for the consumer to find what they want. This of course erodes the advertising supported business model of the existing search engines. However, there will always be money from advertisers who want a customer to switch products, or have something that is genuinely new. But we believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent and in the academic realm.

By combining paid results with organic results, Google is doing the exact same mistake, their founders warned about in TASE*. Google is selling itself to advertisers. Where is the good Google? If you ask me, probably long dead.

* Sources:
TASE = | The Anatomy of a Search Engine
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Google Base and Google Automat - Threat or Opportunity?

Should Google Base and Google Automat be perceived by webmasters as a threat or as an opportunity?

Riva Richmond, of Dow Jones Newswires, says that Google's test of advertising in print media may mean that Google "could also become an ally," of the print industry.

Google Automat patent images are available online. Images show how Google plans to sell classified advertising in less than a minute. is reporting that Classifieds Intelligence issued the following statement:
It's crystal clear is planning for an all-out move into classified advertising. These patent filings and the disclosure of Base a few weeks ago show the company is actively preparing to offer free listings for cars, homes, jobs and 'stuff,' even for merchants, among its services
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Google Update 11/10

I was browsing a newsgroup and found some interesting posts about Google updates. Something seems to have changed in the SERPS 11/10/05. This is one incarnation of the by now infamous Jagger update, and more sites have taken an unexpected hit.

Matt Weir writes, "We ranked consistently at #5 or #6 for years and our company is the third largest in our market space. Now we are gone." He goes on to add that the changes seem to have taken place overnight, "We were in Google on Wednesday 11/9 and on Thursday 11/10 we are gone."

"arunra..." writes, "My website had brilliant natural first page listings with Google and now everything seems to have gone mad! My links can now be found on page 4 or later. Also, I have found that the shopping pages of the site are being 'scorned' - any ideas? Has anyone faced similar probs in the past few days. Google accounts for 90% of our revenue and this situation is clearly very distressing."

Online shopping sites are being hit hard at this critical time. One can hope that small online retail businesses survive this shopping season.

View the newsgroup.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"The press should continue to feed [Google's] arrogance as much as possible": Bill Gates

"We don’t think that is our job": Bill Gates

I just came across this article while searching on Yahoo!, my search engine of choice. Bill Gates recently gave an exclusive interview to In his interview Bill Gates completely dismissed Google as a serious threat. Gates said,

‘Google is great, they are smart people, the press should continue to feed their arrogance as much as possible.’

Bill Gates later said about Google:

‘They say they are going to organise the world’s information. Well, we don’t think that is our job. We think you need to get tools to editors and subject experts to let them organise the world’s information. There is a bit of a philosophy difference here. The only sure winner is the consumer.’

microsoft google press webmaster journalist interview
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Thursday, November 03, 2005

GGG - Google's googole greed?

Here is an excerpt of a comment from me that I made on a forum:
IMO, one main factor in the demise of Enron was greed. Unfortunately, today we are getting the same message from Google.

I read a story in my childhood about a monkey who happens to break into a house and finds a jar with a narrow opening, full of almonds. The monkey successfully slides his hand in the narrow opening of the jar and instead of grabbing a couple of almonds, the monkey tries to grab as many almonds as he can. The result: His hand gets stuck and he cannot get his hand out of the jar. The monkey will not let go of the almonds and keeps trying unsuccessfully to get his hand out of the jar without loosing any almonds. The owner of the jar comes and catches the monkey red handed.

IMO, Google is acting like the monkey. Eager to "hijack" clicks that would have otherwise gone to legitimate publishers without any advertising cost.
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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Is Google devaluing content? Tom asks

Tom Foremski is reporting on how Google Base aims to devalue content by valuing machine generated content. Tom writes
GOOG is devaluing the value of content by insisting the only value is in aggregation. People dump content or free into GOOGbase, but GOOG monetizes the index.
That's like saying the value of a book is in its index, not the content it points to.

Where is the "not-evil" Google we used to know?

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Is Google becoming an image campaign company?

Google, which is becoming notoriously famous for penalizing websites is now apparently charging firms for creating their image online.

InformationWeek is reporting:
"A firm is paying Google an undisclosed sum to make available on its sponsored search pages some white papers that paint an upbeat picture of all things having to do with RFID technology."

IMO, Google should first concentrate on its own image that is gaining negative publicitiy faster than any other company due to unjustified penalties on mom and pop websites.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Is Google crossing the line with Google Print?

Google Print is a project by Google that aims to digitize library books by scanning them without their author's express permission, destroying the concept of copyright and permissions. Google had earlier announced a self-imposed penalty till today. As is clear from a post made on Official Google Blog yesterday, Google is "in the process of resuming scanning."

Google thinks they can do everything they want. Despite the lawsuits brought against the company in recent past by Author's Guild and AAP (, Google decided to continue the project.

Blue Magnolia made a post asking "Who do Google think they are?." Following is an excerpt from the post:

I'm not sure what there is to say about Google and their digitisation project, except do they think the rules don't apply to them? I don't think I've ever seen such blatant disregard for the law.

Whether or not Google intend only to make small portions of the texts available to users, they're missing the point that the very act of making the unauthorised copy is illegal. Now they seem to think that out of print and out of copyright are the same thing.

I totally agree with Blue magnolia. Google is not above the law and they need to realize this. The sooner they realize, the better for them.

In related news, Google has been "cleaning" the web by kicking off innocent mom and pop websites from its index. Google search results seem to be full of sites *they* consider authoritative.

As far as relevancy is concerned, Google's results are full of junk for many sectors. Heck, not even a single page is returned from Google when searching for [adsense feedback].

Faeriebell writes in a post titled Google's Jagger Update and Christmas Shopping:

Google's strategy has shifted to advertising. Instead of delivering the quality search results they became popular for, they are instead delivering very poor search results, which drives users of their search engine to click on the advertisements on the right side of the results. It makes Google money. A lot of money.

For the past two updates, Google has targeted small mom and pop websites that are trying to make an honest living on the Internet. Companies that felt Google's burn in the Bourbon update are still reeling, their rankings forever lost. While Bourbon targeted directory and travel sites, Jagger1 and Jagger2 have been equally decimating to honest retail and online shopping websites. Google's timing is impeccable, travel season rolls around and they penalize travel sites, forcing them to pay for advertising. Shopping season rolls around, and shopping outlets are in Google's sights.

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Where's the diversity? Graywolf asks Google

Today, I came across Graywolf's site and really enjoyed reading his article as it raises some serious questions for Google. Under the heading of Captain Ahab and the White Whale named SEO, GrayWolf writes:
There was a time when you were pretty easy to game, and you've made it considerably harder lately, in fact many would say too hard. However like Captain Ahab chasing Moby Dick, in this all consuming attempt to keep the SEO/spammer crowd out, you've placed way to much emphasis on authoritativeness. In fact your SERPS are really starting to become incestuous lately. I'm tired of seeing Amazon, Ebay, Craigslist, and Wikipedia for the searches I do. Where's the diversity? I know where those sites are and I know how to find them, so again stop dumbing down the web for me.

To read the full article, please go to GrayWolf's Wolf Howl.

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Why Search Scandals?

There was a time search used to suck. Then came Google and suddenly people found themselves being able to find information online.

Today, unfortunately, search industry has started sucking again, thanks to greediness of some of the biggest media companies.

SearchScandals will feature your reviews, your opinions and your thoughts put together in one place for the world to read.

If you are a webmaster penalized by a search engine this year, I feel sorry for you. If you haven't been penalized yet, wait and see.

Please, add your comments and help spread the word.

Tags: SEM
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