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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Google - Friend or Foe

Google's "search within search" feature has many people who use the popular search engine a bit more than concerned. On the surface, it sounds benign but the larger ramifications have people wondering just who's side Google is on.

If you haven't seen the change on Google, in the new listings if a site has a "google search" box it now appears in the page listing. The problem is that the second search box has a Google ad that produces revenues for Google but not for the publisher (site owner).

In addition the second search box occasionally pops up ads for the competitor. So people trying to access one site can easily get side tracked to a competitor. Google has responded to this concern on a limited basis. For example, Amazon requested that this be "switched off" on their site and Google complied.

A third concern, from a purely positioning standpoint, is that the new "enhanced" listings Google has produced reduces the space available on the front page, above the fold, in the SERP. Sites that were once visible immediately when the page loads are not visible when below the fold and the searcher must scroll to those listings, an action many people are prone to avoid.

Google's quest, of course, is to provide the best, most relevant and comprehensive results to searchers. Unfortunately they may end up alienating the the very people who are paying the bills.

To get the full story - check out the New York Times.

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