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Thread: Counterspin on Shopping Search: Shady Paid Inclusion

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    Counterspin on Shopping Search: Shady Paid Inclusion

    Bing caused a big stink today when they unveiled Scroogled, a site that highlights how Google Shopping has went paid-inclusion only. A couple weeks ago Google announced that they would be taking their controvercial business model global, in spite of it being "a mess." Nextag has long been critical of Google's shifts on the shopping search front. Are their complaints legitimate, or are they just whiners?...
    A Self-Destructing Market Dynamic

    The above creates an interesting market dynamic...

    • the long established market leader can wither on the vine for being too focused on their niche market & not broadening out in ways that increase brand awareness
    • a larger site with loads of usage data can outsource the vertical and win based on the bleed of usage data across services & the ability to cross promote the site
    • the company investing in creating the architecture & baseline system that powers other sites continues to slide due to limited brand & a larger entity gets to displace the data source
    • Google then directly enters the market, further displacing some of the vertical players


    The above puts Nextag's slide in perspective, but the problem is that they still have fixed costs to manage if they are going to maintain their editorial quality. Google can hand out badges for people willing to improve their product for free or give searchers a "Click any fact to locate it on the web. Click Wrong? to report a problem" but others who operated with such loose editorial standards would likely be labeled as a spammer of one stripe or another.
    Scrape-N-Displace

    Most businesses have to earn the right to have exposure. They have to compete in the ecosystem, built awareness & so on. But Google can come in from the top of the market with an inferior product, displace the competition, economically starve them & eventually create a competitive product over time through a combination of incremental editorial improvements and gutting the traffic & cash flow to competing sites.
    "The difference between life and death is remarkably small. And it’s not until you face it directly that you realize your own mortality." - Dustin Curtis
    The above quote is every bit as much true for businesses as it is for people. Nothing more than a threat of a potential entry into a market can cut off the flow of investment & paralyze businesses in fear.

    • If you have stuff behind a paywall or pre-roll ads you might have "poor user experience metrics" that get you hit by Panda.
    • If you make your information semi-accessible to Googlebot you might get hit by Panda for having too much similar content.
    • If you are not YouTube & you have a bunch of stolen content on your site you might get hit by a copyright penalty.
    • If you leave your information fully accessible publicly you get to die by scrape-n-displace.
    • If you are more clever about information presentation perhaps you get a hand penlty for cloaking.

    None of those is a particularly desirable way to have your business die.


    It is also worth mentioning that some sites with "no product available" like Target or Toys R Us might also carry further Google AdSense ads.
    Then there are also issues with things like ads that optimize for CTR which end up promoting things like software piracy or the academic versions of software (while lowering the perceived value of the software).
    Over the past couple years Google has whacked loads of small ecommerce sites & the general justification is that they don't add enough that is unique, and that they don't deserve to rank as their inventory is unneeded duplication of Amazon & eBay. Many of these small businesses carry inventory and will be driven into insolvency by the sharp shifts in traffic. And while a small store is unneeded duplication, Google still allows syndicated press releases to rank great (and once again SEOs get blamed for Google being Google - see the quote-as-headline here).
    Let's presume Google's anti-small business bias is legitimate & look at Google Shopping to see how well they performed in terms of providing a value add editorial function.
    A couple days ago I was looking for a product that is somewhat hard to find due to seasonal shopping. It is often available at double or triple retail on sites like eBay, but Google Shopping helped me locate a smaller site that had it available at retail price. Good deal for me & maybe I was wong about Google.
    ... then again ...
    The site they sent me to had the following characteristics:

    • URL - not EMD & not a brand, broken English combination
    • logo - looks like I designed it AND like I was in a rush when I did it
    • about us page - no real information, no contact information (on an ecommerce site!!!), just some obscure stuff about "direct connection with China" & mention of business being 15 years old and having great success
    • age - domain is barely a year old & privacy registered
    • inbound links - none
    • product price - lower than everywhere else
    • product level page content - no reviews, thin scraped editorial, editorial repeats itself to fill up more space, 3 adsense blocks in the content area of the page
      • no reviews, thin scraped editorial, editorial repeats itself to fill up more space, 3 adsense blocks in the content area of the page
      • no reviews, thin scraped editorial, editorial repeats itself to fill up more space, 3 adsense blocks in the content area of the page
      • no reviews, thin scraped editorial, editorial repeats itself to fill up more space, 3 adsense blocks in the content area of the page
      • the above repetition is to point out the absurdity of the formatting of the "content" of said page

    • site search - yet again the adsense feed, searching for the product landing page that was in Google Shopping I get no results (so outside of paid inclusion & front/center placement, Google doesn't even feel this site is worth wasting the resources to index)
    • checkout - requires account registration, includes captcha that never matches, hoping you will get frustrated & go back to earlier pages and click an ad




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    Mike Dammann's Avatar
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    No surprise there. I still don't understand how my one and only non commercial site got under the hammer, but so be it.
    For blood type dating go here. If your blood type is rhesus negative, go there. If you are bored and feel like liking a Facebook page, hit this one.

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    Franc Tireur's Avatar
    Franc Tireur is online now Senior Net Builder
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Dammann View Post
    No surprise there. I still don't understand how my one and only non commercial site got under the hammer, but so be it.
    For my main keyword which is the name of my company, they put it right back at the same ranking I had in May 2012, go figure what's going on...
    Mike Dammann likes this.

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    Probably a good idea to avoid legal conflicts.
    Quote Originally Posted by Natural Elements View Post
    For my main keyword which is the name of my company, they put it right back at the same ranking I had in May 2012, go figure what's going on...
    For blood type dating go here. If your blood type is rhesus negative, go there. If you are bored and feel like liking a Facebook page, hit this one.

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