• http://www.lead411.com tomblue

    Danny: #2 always bugged me. For example recently when I have been doing searches for people I would find that the first 4 results are from facebook and the next 4 results from linkedin. The worst part about it is that half of the results wouldn’t even be for a person with that name. For example, I searched for Kyle Soladay and 2 of the facebook results would be a profile for Jane Doe or Larry Smith. Same would go for linkedin. Useless.

    But here is the big issue. I was doing these above searches in chrome in which Google has all this browsing history saved for me… I assume they know I have been to linkedin/facebook a lot. I tried them in firefox/ie and I was only getting one result for facebook/linkedin. I cleared all my history in chrome and we are back to only one result per company. Great! but what happens when the history builds up again.

    What is ironic is that knowing more about me has hurt the search results.

  • s_syedali

    One more thing I noticed recently was classification of content pages as video pages if you have a video embedded in them. I have seen a lot of cases where you rank at a decent position but as soon as your pages are classified as a videos they are grouped under videos usually showing at the bottom of the page. And in that case you have to block google video bot to get your rankings back which is not great.

  • http://www.qaqn.com Daniel M. Clark QAQN

    Good list, good updates. My #1 thing I hate about Google that I know they’re not going to change (and I know you touched on this in #’s 24 and 25) – I hate that Google has to have its fingers in *everything*. They’re competing in spaces that they have no business (so to speak) being in. If their mission is to organize the world’s information, how does Google Docs, Google Voice, or creating a self-driving car further that mission? I have a real problem with a company as powerful as Google owning content or acting like they own content – YouTube for the first, caching pages for the second. How does owning an affiliate network further the mission? Not to mention that owning an affiliate network has tremendous potential for serious conflicts of interest with other products of theirs.

    Google might have a “don’t be evil” mantra now, but that doesn’t mean they always will. All it takes is for the wrong group of people to rise to the top of the company – it’s a flip of a switch from “don’t be evil” to “take all we can”.

    If 1990’s Microsoft had even *thought* about trying to get away with even *half* of what Google is doing today, the DOJ would have split them into a hundred smaller companies in a heartbeat. I’m always amazed that Google hasn’t come under the same fire that MS did.

  • http://internetmarketingremarks.com Randy Pickard

    Danny – Great review. It seems to me that there is almost a dichotomy between the Google search and Adwords engineers. It’s my perception that the search engineers basically wear white hats and are working hard to deliver results that match the intent of my searches. The Adwords engineers are a bunch of money grubbing black hats that constantly manipulate the algorithm to suck ever more money away from their advertisers. Adwords’ abysmal customer service provided to small advertisers demonstrates how little respect Google has for their advertising clients. Their recent move to make display URL’s of root domaims lower case, despite the objections of major advertisers, shows an arrogance of a firm that has the pricing power of a monopoly.

  • http://www.planetc1.com/ Michael Dorausch

    This is a serious list. I can see how you may have gotten behind trying to get it out. Very cool you could go back and resurrect an archived post though.

    On Web search counts, I don’t think I even notice them anymore, had to actually do a search to see that they still appear.

    For multiple results and indented results from a single domain, I have to admit that I love seeing 4 listings or more when it’s my domain, but not always so much one I’m searching something of personal interest.

    On the SXSW query, I like those results very much, especially since they include YouTube, twitter, the schedule, and even pages similar to (like Coachella). As a user, that feels like a useful set of search results.

    On user interface confusion, I haven’t noticed much change on that either, except when Barry Schwartz is doing screenshots and sharing them in posts. I have to say that the constant changing of the logo for holidays and such, kind of bugs me, but I can live with it.

    AdWords and AdSense confusion. I still get these mixed up. I wish Google would have completely different terms for the two. Ad$ense would remind me this is the one I use to earn revenue on my website, and Ad(Would you advertise with us?)ords is the other one.

    Blacklists in Gmail. I would love that. I mark so much e-mail as spam it makes my index finger hurt. I still sift through the spam folder to make sure I’m not missing important stuff, and I wish I could block spamming domains so I never see them.

    The love-hate relationship continues. For me, I’d have to say I still have a lot of love for Google, hoping the relationship continues to improve.

  • http://www.fluxresearch.com Flux Research

    “Web Search Counts That Make No Sense”

    Wow, I’ve totally blocked those numbers out of my awareness and I use Google all the time!

    But I remember being in meetings for a certain half-assed company where this guy used to use those numbers to prove arguments. I couldn’t say anything about it because I would be perceived as negative and, even if I could, management didn’t have the attention span to listen to even a brief explanation.

    Those numbers are just dumb. You’d think an engineering dominated culture would see that but, once again, engineers fail us!

  • SpookyAction

    Good list, but one I still think should be in the “hate” category is #12, click fraud. Google has done more to protect advertisers from click fraud in AdWords, but mostly at the expense of AdSense users. I’ve read countless stories from content publishers having their AdSense accounts suspended because of alleged excessive clicks coming from their sites or hosted content, like YouTube videos. Google doesn’t provide AdSense customers any tools to protect themselves and when an account is suspended, keeps any money in the outstanding account balance and bans them from AdSense. If Google can detect fraudulent clicks that result in the suspension of AdSense accounts, then they could just block them or provide AdSense users tools to prevent them. Not only is it completely unfair to AdSense users, it leaves them completely vulnerable to competitors and bad players generating fraudulent clicks for the purpose of getting a publishers account suspended. Plus, the suspension policy only targets small companies or sites and independent publishers, the ones that rely on AdSense the most, not major advertising partners, which are exempt. Another point that I feel should be added to the “hate” category is Google’s use of and lack of contribution to open source software. Google makes extensive use of Linux, both internally (all Google’s servers run Linux) and in their products (Android, Chrome OS) but contribute very little back to the open source community in comparison to other companies in the Linux world like IBM and RedHat.

  • http://content4chiros.com Joseph Doughty

    Thanks for this post. 5 years later and Google is still here. 5 years is an eternity in web speak. Found #25 the most intriguing. (Yes, I read the whole post.)

    Philosophy guides action in life as well as business. As Google continues to grow and its tentacles stretch around the globe it will be harder and harder for them to live up to their Don’t be evil motto.

    Perhaps some of their short comings aren’t overtly evil, but it does shine a light on their hypocrisy. They came down kind of hard on Microsoft when they themselves have engaged in similar clandestine behavior.

    Oh well, unti someone comes along with better search we will all most likely be using Google. At least they made some changes.

    The interesting post will be the one you do 5 years from now that speaks of Googles downfall because social media search and semantic-web have usurped the antiquated Google search box.

  • http://ninebyblue.com/ Vanessa Fox

    OH COME ON! You “hate” that Google still has no site owner support? You wrote the original article in March 2006 when Webmaster Central didn’t exist (the Sitemaps UI launched in August 2005, but it primarily contained error information about Sitemaps and by March 2006 was still called Sitemaps and had only a few more options).

    Sure, maybe no paid support option exists (nor could it ever because that would be equivalent to paid placement because whoever could pay would get extra help – I can’t believe that you, who know as much as you do about search, would even suggest such a thing).

    But you haven’t moved the needle on liking the support that Google does provide when since March of 2006, they’ve added:

    -Huge expansion of the discussion forum from being Sitemaps-specific to encompassing all organic site owner topics
    -A new position at Google called “webmaster trends analyst” that did not exist in March 2006, intended entirely to answer discussion forum questions and watch the web for issues site owners have (and they continue to hire more people into this role all over the world)
    -A repositioning of the blog to be sitemaps-specific to encompass all organic questions site owners have
    -A completely revamped and expanded help center
    -A spam report form
    -A reconsideration request form with feedback on processing
    -A message center that lets site owners know of problems, including some violations
    -A completely new URL removal tool
    A way to tell Google whether your want to be indexed as www or not
    -A way to tell Google what country your site should be associated with
    -Malware alerts and reinclusion process
    -Ability to slow down or speed up Googlebot crawl

    Not to mention all the non-support, but high usefulness data features that webmaster central provides about query data, crawl errors, links….

    There’s lots more but my flight’s about to land.

    I know for a fact that Google looked very closely at how to best provide scalable support to every single site owner on the web because I helped create all of those support options. I can’t even fathom how someone could say that Google’s support for site owners hasn’t vastly improved since March 2006.


    (And yes that word does too mean what I think it means! ;)

  • http://googlemonopoly.eu googlemonopolyeu

    There is less and less to like every day about Google.

    This 25 list is a good read. I think it could be expanded to include the other Google properties and products. Looking forward to such :)

    First, Google was about search, but now they seem to be about ad placement only. Plenty examples of them hawking their products above search results. Places is the best and ugliest example of Google stealing content and using it against publishers feeding their search.

    If Google was soooooooo good at search then 97%+ of it’s income wouldn’t be coming from ancient old dumb media advertising model, would it?

    These are my comments on #10 HATE: STILL No Guaranteed Web Search Support

    I believe Google has become too big to care. This is most evident from an ongoing recent thread over at Webmaster Central Help, “Think you’re affected by the recent algorithm change? Post here.”.

    A Google employee started the thread and hundreds of people impacted by the algorithm change described what was is wrong and how they were smacked by the change. Google’s staff, senior management, etc? Totally absent, non responsive. Google won’t touch the thread, won’t comment. Total #GOOGLEFAIL.

    As for Vanessa pointing to her work on Webmaster Central, I think that area for website owners is mediocre at best. There are plenty of bugs and things that don’t work like they should. I’d tell Google so they could remedy them, but every attempt I’ve ever made to reach a human has been met with an infinite black hole, containing no human (or at least one that responds in kind).

    For a company that is pulling in over $1 million per employee, Google can and should be able to afford a support team. Many issues arise normally that require elevated attention and responsiveness on Google’s part.

    Google’s approach is to tell us software is adequate in lieu of humans and mostly provides forums where Google doesn’t typically respond. Instead of Google employees, SEO types and others with useless misinformation respond. It’s a giant disaster zone. You wouldn’t accept public forums as means of support if your house was on fire, if your child was sick or many other reasons.

    Google fails to recognize that many people are NOT some shoeless teens toying around in the basement. Most folks demanding Google act responsibly are business owners, and entrepreneurs. These folks would never treat their customers how Google does or they would be out of business.

    Somehow all this logic evades the brains in charge at Google. Has to be that they believe their monopoly position means they get to dictate the rules even if they offend everyone else’s common sense.

  • http://about.me/jamiemills Jamie Mills

    Unnecessary statistics, especially when they are inaccurate or open to interpretation, breed distrust.

    Another example, adding to those listed above, is a search for “ipad2 european launch”. On encrypted.google.com, the number of search results is “about 2,960,000”. Browsing through the 43 results page, one wonders how 3 million pages will be displayed, with there are ten hits listed per page… a max of 430 results?

    It gets worse. Although on page 35 you still see that there are 43 pages, page 37 shows that there are now only 42 pages in total. Page 38 changes this again to a max of 41 total pages. Page 41 is the last page, and it states that there are 401 results.

    Including omitted results doesn’t improve it any further – it shows 51 pages, again 10 results per page which as page 51 shows 5 hits, should be 505 results. Way off 3 million.

    The average user has no concern as to the number of results returned so long as the spread of results is adequate to their needs. The inaccuracy of the results diminishes faith in the product.

    Adding further distraction is the fact that encrypted.google.com and http://www.google.co.uk display a different number of results also. 3 million cf 17 million.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Thanks for all the comments!

    On site owner support, Vanessa, I said I hated that there was no guaranteed support. When I originally wrote this, you’re right — there was no Webmaster Central. I love that Google has this now. But I still hate that even with it, there’s no guarantee that people will hear back if there’s an issue. Like I said, this means you get people like the Cult Of Mac editor complaining that getting support from Google is just a “crap shoot” when it’s not, and when Google puts substantial resources — as I also said — into providing support. A guaranteed option would help. When I wrote this originally, I though a paid route would be good since we had no options at all. Since then, I addressed that this could potentially still happen but just as you wrote, it would probably be controversial. So instead, I’d hope they’d find a way to perhaps give anyone registered at least one promised guaranteed response for free, as part of the registration process

    SpookyAction, thanks for sharing about click fraud. As I said, it’s not something I’ve heard many complaints about, so it’s good to get that feedback.

  • http://buzzintechnology.com Buzz IT

    Nice work. Just wading the list of 25. But could not stop myself commenting on the very first one on ” Web Search Counts That Make No Sense”. It has driven me nuts as well. When I first found this out I thought I was the first to discover and went all crazy :)

    The thing you did not mention (probably did before) is that if one is patient enough to go through the last results page for a query, Google corrects the number of results automatically.

    I thought all Google wants to do is save time/computation in serving results users by coming up with an estimate (even if its is grossly wrong). Given ample time as one goes through results page, Google can correct the results, Why not give the estimated count as a link and give us the correct results if a user clicks on it. Here is my amateur page complaining about the miscount.

    I want to add one more thing on the same flavor as 1a. Google results miscounts on Google News. I have never understood why Google News has to give wrong counts. Its is not that it is searching the entire web to give us the news.

  • http://webdesignworkplace.com malmilligan

    I think Danny the way you began the “Now” part of the “Guaranteed Web Search Support” item with the phrase “It’s like nothing has changed” that got Vanessa angry enough to offer a slap down. Wow. Focusing on the fact that there is still no general pay per incident service I’d re-evaluate the hate and wonder if something like that could even be managed. But I see paid support for Google Apps, numerous things I can control about the sites I have verified in my WebMaster Tools account: like being able to report spammers, and I got timely responses after restoring a couple of sites that had been blocked due to a SQL injection I had previous to their block been unaware of. So a lot has changed including manageable paid support in some areas… like Google Apps. Best Regards – Mal

  • http://daggle.com/ Danny Sullivan

    I meant nothing had changed in terms of how people still flock to Matt’s blog looking for some personal advice — and yes, that nothing has still change if you want a guaranteed answer.

    I didn’t mean for that to take away from the huge amounts of support that Google offers now, and that I highlighted at the end of that section. I’ve added a postscript to the section to better highlight this.

    Bottom line. Google has greatly grown in the support it offers site owners since I wrote this, and I love that support — and I’ve written about that many times over the years. But some people still believe there is no support, sadly — and part of that is probably due to there being no guaranteed option. I think Google could at least experiment with this.

  • http://mainspring.tv/ MainSpring Video

    Thanks for the article, and for all your research. This was an interesting read. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how the Google video search function will evolve and improve over the next 5 years… the search toolbar on the side has evolved nicely so far, though, I agree!

  • http://ninebyblue.com/ Vanessa Fox

    I’m not angry. I just disagree. I feel as though Google offers a lot of guaranteed support for site owners that didn’t use to be available, including a URL removal process, penalty review process, crawl speed change process, etc.

    Many of the things that Google *can* guarantee support for, they now do.

    While it’s true that a process by which each reconsideration request is reviewed is not the same as a process that would enable site owners to find out why their penalty isn’t be lifted, the review is something they can guarantee. There are lots of reasons why they can’t guarantee an explanation.

    And I remember Matt’s blog comments in 2005 and 2006. I think the amount of support requests that go through there have been GREATLY reduced since then.

  • Adrian

    @Vanessa I think Google offers some good support and has made great strides in many ways. The Webmaster forum is wonderful for the simple (and not so-simple) questions and requests. But sometimes there are issues that only a Googler can answer, or where a user would genuinely benefit from direct access to Google. It would be nice if there was a way to pick up the phone to 1-800-Google and get personalized help. And yes even for a fee. Sometimes a discussion thread or filling in a form does not work on complex issues. Even real-time chat support would be awesome. I know the likeliness of this is slim, (due to the volume Google would face), but I am sure there is a revenue stream available from willing customers to pay for personal service. Its not evil to charge for direct premium support when the customers want it. Its not an attack on the team or what Google has done or offers. There is an obvious need being left unfulfilled.

  • Sruli

    Wow. This was absolutely amazing. Danny, you have truly enlightened me.

    @tomblue – ever since i started using chrome, I have found that Google search results absolutely suck. In fact, I started using Bing shortly after I swtiched to chrome! (that ended when i got super annoyed that I couldn’t search bing directly from the search bar) I didn’t put it together then, but the fact that Chrome ruins the google experience is mind boggling.

    I couldn’t agree more with your statement “What is ironic is that knowing more about me has hurt the search results.” I would take it one step further. I feel that personalizing search results the way Google has completely frustrates the entire purpose of searching. The whole point of seraching is to get the most accurate, reliable result. Prioritizing them based on your likelihood of clicking through is absolutely useless in that regard. (But I just realized, this makes google more money – which exactly echose parts of #25 above.)

    Btw, is there a way to search using old algorithms?? I am very curious if searches from years ago produce better more useful results then the current algorithms.

  • Chris Ewing

    I know you get a lot of: “But what about…”. It’s kind of like George Carlin’s Things you can’t say on TV…
    Google Business Places drives me insane. Not that the interface, which has gone through a few changes, is any problem, but the verification system literally drives me insane.

    1. The phone verification won’t work with an automated phone system (please press 1 for customer support….)
    2. The mailing of a postcard is random for some reason. If you have the option given to you to do a phone verification, but can’t use this option, the postcard option is no where to be found
    3. SMS verification???? What does this have to do with a business phone number? If there is an automated phone system, how does an SMS option help?

    Someone needs to seriously look at this and completely re-do this whole thing. It’s insane…

  • http://www.glynndevins.com B Hodges

    Couldn’t Google also help cut down the amount of spam email? After accidentally falling victim to an address book raid that sent an offer for some enlargement to all my contacts, it occurred to me that GMail should have been able to stop it. Surely GMail knows I don’t typically send (read: never send) emails with only a link to my entire address book. It should have the ability to quarantine such emails until they are confirmed with CAPTCHA.

  • http://blogs.telestream.net/wirecast Craig Burgess

    Great in-depth article, as usual Danny. Thanks for pointing out the inconsistencies. I’ve participated and watched this space (SE) since 1998 and I’m always amazed at how quickly things change….and don’t.

    I’m a heavy user of Google services, and am glad they are around. But this is a good reminder how even the best meaning companies should check-in to Hotel Reality, at least once every 5 years.

  • http://whoisBID.com WHOIS BID

    Hi Danny,
    It is good to see you still around. I remember viewing your posts on my small screen using Windows 95 or 98 (can’t remember now) which seem totally irrelevant to everyone but who cares. It is me speaking!
    Last year I was frustrated with search engines but now I am seeing something worse and it is millions of bots being used by supposed social networkers on Microblog services. After seeing the horror, I am would not want search engines to jump too quickly into giving social media too much power simply because many of these socialites are not actually spending time on the net. They are sleeping or going out and getting pissed while their bots do the work for them. This is so sad and I wonder what Google think about it.

  • http://www.howtomakemoneyonlines.org/how-to-make-money-online-blog/ James Sanders

    Hello Danny,

    I’ve been following you for many years, I’ve been online since 1997 when I started my first website. Although I know adwords are a great way to make money online, I can honestly say not a single one of my website properties even promote them to this day. In what you say about the “don’t be evil” and the perpetuation, you are completely correct.

    How is it not evil when a company collects information without knowing they’re doing it? That was one of Google’s claims, a while back, relating to signals they intercepted. Obviously, they knew the potential signals they’d intercept, so why didn’t they attempt to regulate what they collected and recorded? The adsense and adwords perpetuation is just the iceing on the cake in my humble opinion. Let’s also not forget how they wanted to infringe everyone’s copyrights through the book program.

    The way they’ve helped millions of get rich quick schemers litter the internet is atrocious. It’s part of the reason I created the website in my name link because of trying to educate people about the absurdities Google helps perpetuate through that “get rich quick” category alone. Trying to compete with all the other unethical internet marketers out there to be heard over the noise and educate people about the absurdity is next to impossible. Let us not forget that most of these programs include ways to “game” Google to begin with, and that’s just another area where Google eats it’s own tail.

    Anyways, I’m glad you seem to have Matt’s ear, to a degree, and I hope that many more of the things on your list see the light of day and a fix. I think one of the biggest ones relates to the not being evil and the get rich quick category though. That’s the first one I’d like to see go away. Then at least it might not be so hard to educate people in ethical ways to do something honest, providing value to the internet instead of perpetuating garbage, while helping the dishonest get rich in the process. Maybe one day Google will see it’s evil ways and stop doing them, get back to their roots, and be what they once were to many of us.