August 16, 2012

Is Google turning from a search engine into a publisher?


From left, Incisive Media Global VP Mike Grehan, Matt Cutts of Google, Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land and Brett Tabke, who runs PubCon (Photo by Search Engine Land).

Webmasters push back against recent changes at Google

Target audience: Businesses, brands, marketers, search specialists, SEO experts, Web publishers — anyone with a business website.

JD LasicaBy and large over the years on number of fronts — search, mobile, open source, public policy — Google has generally worn the white hat. They’ve played the good guys in this still unfolding Internet saga right from the start. Back when search was still young, as I wrote in 2001, Google decreed that there must be a clear demarcation between search results and sponsored links, and it has been thus ever since.

So it was somewhat jarring to see the cool reception that Google’s Matt Cutts — probably Google’s biggest superstar behind Larry, Sergey and Eric — received yesterday at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Francisco. Cutts laid out a rosy portrait of the company’s Knowledge Graph, unveiled last week. Search on “chiefs” on Kansas City and you’ll get a different result than if you searched out the Chiefs rugby team in Australia or New Zealand. (For the possible downsides of this, see my interview with Eli Pariser, author of “The Filter Bubble.”)

But Google is doing more than just personalization, and audience members took to the microphone to push back. Their objection came down to this: By all appearances, Google’s recent moves seem to be moving the company away from its search roots and more into the role of an online publisher, a one-stop shop, a commercial Wikipedia. Continue reading