Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Don't let Google boss your website around

Google have always been good at creating a business model where previously it didn't exist, or if it did, doing it better.

Online advertising was always a bit of a dog until Google came along with AdWords in 2000, now AdWords is it's major revenue source.

With Google's unique ability for making money where no one else is looking, web professionals need to be wary about what Google is up to. If Google do introduce any new Beta offerings or alter the specifications of current offerings they'll do so on the quiet.

Google site search
Recently a quiet change to Google site search has been making waves in the web community (more examples of this). Many will know Google site search as something you can do in the main Google search, eg. input "site: seo" into Google and you will search this blog for all instances of the word 'seo'. The change Google has made is by automatically including the site search in it's results listings (see image below). The worry amongst website owners is that users will now search your site for what they want on Google before even getting to your site. This may reduce your visitors, discourage user visits to your home page and worst of all place Google AdWords on the search results page.

screen shot of Google results page showing listing for and site search box

Savvy website owners need to be well aware of Google activity and i encourage them to fight Google if you feel you've been hard done by. have recently done just that to prevent site search appearing next to their search listing.

All this innovation by Google works both ways. Clever individuals and companies can make money out of Google.

One major new business model being developed that amongst other things attempts to give publishers payments for the use of their news stories is ACAP (Automated Content Access Protocol). ACAP in its simplest form will provide rights information (DRM) for all articles, news items, images, videos etc on a publishers website that can be read by a machine, such as the Google News spider - I'm not exactly sure of the mechanics of it but it will be an extension of the robots.txt file.

Google are reluctant to embrace ACAP as they believe current robots files are sufficient. Considering ACAP seeks to provide some limits to how information is used on the web I'm sure that this is not the only factor causing Google's reticence.

If ACAP, or something similar and maybe less restrictive, does take off and Google comes round to the idea (or is forced to by legislation) then publishers could find themselves making a lot of money.

The web is changing as businesses become more aware of the capabilities of the internet - there are more publishers and website owners out there than search engines and without us what would the search engines search?

Related pages
Should Google News pay publishers for their content?

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