Why Did Google Stop Supporting The SOAP API?

Earlier this week, Google dropped some support for the SOAP API, finally making a formal announcement about it here. New sign-ups aren’t allowed, but the API calls will continue to be served. Why did they drop sign-ups? Google doesn’t explain, and so others are speculating.

Techdirt feels they did this for business reasons over technical reasons. John Battelle quotes Tim Bray’s thoughts, where Bray explains that without the SOAP API, Google is forcing:

you to hand over part of your web page to Google so that Google can display the search box and show the results the way they want (with a few token user configuration options), just as people do with Google AdSense ads or YouTube videos.

I have been using the API for a long time, it has been plagued with downtime, flaky response rates and not always accurate results, which may explain another reason why Google doesn’t want to invest more money it.

So what are developers left with? Not much, unless they want to go the route of an Evil API, a new scraping tool. Ironically, the SOAP API helped reduce some people feeling they needed to turn to scraping to draw on Google results.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: APIs | Google: Critics


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • http://www.caydel.com Caydel

    I think I can understand a bit why Google would cut their SOAP API.

    1. Paring down of services – they got rid of Google Answers for the same reason. I am sure that the thousands of SEO tools out there which used the Google API probably cost them a bit in terms of bandwidth and hardware.

    2. Index Security – We know that Google resists the idea of people manipulating their SERPS. In their view, they are providing the best results without pesky SEOs coming in and throwing them off. Well, the SOAP API allowed great freedom programmatically, allowing thousands of SEO tools to use the listings for competitive intelligence. I am sure that Google considers it to be in their best interest to make the life of an SEO difficult at best, and disabling the SOAP API has virtually neutered a large number of the tools that newer SEOs depends on for research.

  • http://www.seo-london.co.uk seo-london

    While this persepctive is arguable, I suspect that the motivation for discontinuing the SOAP API is practical rather than commercial or technical.

    Scraping, by its very nature is far more bandwidth and resourse greedy than quering the API. Those currently using the API have in the past scraped, and will more than likely return to doing so in the absense of a functional SOAP API. Google knows this and thus this renders both the bandwith and commercial argument for this move as less stable.

    From a practical perspective, the API has is recent months returned increasingly different results to the SERPs… so much so that they are useless. Due to the new datacentre architecture, it is reasonable to speculate that the API is now redundant…

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