Google is Starting a Dangerous Trend with Google Instant Preview

I think Google is starting a very dangerous trend, introducing a feature that “improves search experience by 5%” (their quote) but I want to examine how this feature undermines webmasters self interest by 254% (my quote for which I have no specific evidence, just as Google had none with their 5% claim).

I’m about to analyze why Google is starting to compete with webmasters, how Google’s motto (like “our goal is for people to leave our website”) is false and what can webmasters do about all this.

I’ll try to quote Google in their own words:

Google Blog: “Instant Previews provides a graphic overview of a search result and highlights the most relevant sections, making finding the right page as quick and easy as flipping through a magazine.”

My question: At what cost? What is the flip side of this?

Yes, it is people spending MORE TIME on Google. Isn’t Google regularly saying that their goal is for users to leave their website as fast as possible? Oh wait…they changed ‘website’ to ‘homepage’ a while ago. That SearchEngineLand post has been written in September and although Google promised to change ‘homepage’ to ‘website’, as far as I can see that hasn’t changed. But okay, let’s suppose it’s ‘website’ and they forgot to change it…I forgive them for such a minor mistake. But I don’t easily forgive for lying:

Google Instant Previews Flip-side: People Staying MORE Time on Google

One interesting anecdote: While I was looking for the definition of flip-side (I’m not a native English speaker), I coincidently clicked on the text of the first result (thefreedictionary.com) instead of the title. And guess what appeared:

Great example of what I’m talking about! Google did a wonderful thing for me so I don’t have to go on TheFreeDictonary (by the way, I have nothing to do with Thefreedictionary, just mentioning them as an example):

a) They scraped their page

b) Not only they scraped their page but they scraped the relevant information and showed them as a ‘preview’. The end result: Whoa, I don’t need to go to on this page and look for the information I’m looking for. Google did it for me…in their own search results!

And sure enough…poor FreeDictonary guys, they had some ads on their page:

They must have been getting some click through rate from those ads…but now they’ll get less traffic = less clicks = less money.

So to summarize…

Google: We may be the only people in the world who can say our goal is to have people leave our website as quickly as possible

Me: Liars!!!!&&!&!&!!!@!!@!@!

Oh and by the way, did you notice those AdSense ads weren’t present in the Instant Preview (maybe because Google plans to later monetize this preview window by adding their own ads? Who knows).

Why Google Instant Preview May Be The Beginning Of a Dangerous Trend for Webmasters

These ‘snippets’ of pages Google provides in Instant Preview are easy to scrape…they mostly answer ‘what’, ‘when’ or ‘who’ type of questions (what is the definition of flip side, when was Luther Ling assassinated etc.) But what about ‘how-to’ type of queries? If you type ‘how to boil an egg’ Instant Preview can’t really answer your question.

But let’s go 3 years forward and say this type of technology is available…let’s say Google can now get the most important ‘points’ from a how-to article and display them in Instant Preview 2.0 🙂 After all, one year ago Eric Schmidt said the exact same thing:

So I don’t know how to characterize the next 10 years except to say that we’ll get to the point – the long-term goal is to be able to give you one answer, which is exactly the right answer over time. Okay, you know, the question I’ll ask today, how many Americans have – what percentage of Americans have passports?…The Google’s answer was a site, which was somebody who had attempted to answer that question and had multiple answers. It’s quite interesting actually to read…So you go to a very good definitive site. And what I’d like to do is to get to the point where we could read his site and then summarize what it says, and answer the question…Along with the citation and so forth and so on.

One inevitable conclusion from this is:

Google cares for the webmaster’s information, not for webmaster’s pages.

This is very, very bad for webmasters. A webmaster’s page is his PROPERTY, he can do all sorts of things there, he can change the content and add any type of ads/methods of monetization he wants. So it could be argued that by taking the information from a webmaster’s page and not giving a buck about his page you’re basically doing a copyright infringement.

Another great quote from a recent post on Technorati:

“So it seems to me that this is just the next logical step for Google and their plan to take over the world. Google’s “don’t be evil” goal is to bring users to their website, take website content from other websites and use it for personal profit. If that is not evil, then I don’t know what is.”

I’ve actually read that Google plans to do this and is probably going to start experimenting with ways to monetize Instant Preview. Evil or not for webmasters? You decide.

Google Has Guidelines For Webmasters. Maybe it’s time for Webmasters to Make Guidelines for Google?

Dear webmasters,

Wake up. Google has a lot of rules for us. Format your content so it’s accessible for the search engines. Make unique and valuable content and so on.

Why don’t we have rules for Google? Why don’t we form something like a webmasters association? As you see, Google will do whatever it takes to satisfy users demands but does very little for your demands.

Yes, some might say you can opt out from Google Instant Preview and that’s possible and easy to do…but I’m not talking about that. Google knows very well the power of default choice and there’s a very good reason why they offer you an option to opt-out instead of opt-in. Do you think many webmasters would opt-in to Instant Previews? I highly doubt.

I don’t blame Google. I blame you for not taking any action and protecting your self-interest. I did something, I spend 2 hours writing this article, what about you? What can you do? Can you spread the word? Can you write a post on YOUR website on this issue and spread the word? After all, a journey of thousand miles begins with one step. Are you willing to take a step?

Thanks for reading.

Darren’s latest post deals with some of the most popular free people search engines on the web. Check it out.