Has the Great Google Lost its Cool? Have they Become Evil?

This week, the world of search was somewhat shocked to learn that Google has included a feature on its newest toolbar, (Toolbar 3 Beta) that adds links to websites viewed when using the toolbar. Known as Auto-links, the tool will direct users to Google maps when a street address is noted and to Amazon.com when the ISBN number of a book is mentioned. It will also provide links to information on vehicle-history when their vehicle ID number is found on a site or forum (US only) and parcel delivery history when a tracking code is mentioned on a site.

Webmasters and search marketers are legitimately concerned about the prospect of a Google tool changing their websites. A prime example would be the second largest online bookseller, Barnes and Noble. If a web-user was to try to purchase a book from Barnes and Nobel while using the new toolbar, a link to rival Amazon.com would be added to the view’s version of the Barnes and Noble site as soon as the book’s ISBN appeared.

There are a growing number of webmasters and search marketers who believe the introduction of this version of an Auto-links feature is the precursor to even more insidious automated intrusions in content alteration by Google. These thoughts were well summed up in a blog entry from search-blogger Dave Winer.

Four or five years ago, Microsoft was forced to withdraw a similar feature known as Smart-Tags that was to be bundled into new versions of Internet Explorer after weeks of webmaster outrage and ridicule. Judging by recent comments such as “Google is to the Internet what Microsoft was to the PC”, the geniuses at Google are about to run into a similar wall of resentment from content creators.

Readers are invited to share their opinions with Google Labs by following this link

Lycos, Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places

Lycos used to be a really important name in the search engine world. Today, it is a shell of its former self with much lower visitor numbers and what seems to be a mismatched marketing strategy. Just when the online world is turning away from online dating services, Lycos announces its “recommittment to search” with a match-making site that draws personals ads from multiple online dating services.

“Lycos Dating Search applies Lycos’ search heritage and expertise to the vast number of profiles on leading online dating sites. By providing full-text indexing of millions of profiles, we offer users a much more convenient, efficient and effective way of searching for relationships online,” said Adam Soroca, General Manager of Search Services for Lycos, Inc. “Rather than searching on many different dating sites, online date seekers can now quickly narrow the available field of prospective matches on Lycos Dating Search. Lycos Dating Search confirms Lycos’ commitment and reinvestment in search.”

What strikes me as most unfortunate is that Lycos has several features that make it a very good tool but nobody, even the folks at Lycos tend to mention them. Hopefully, Lycos will be able to find traction by mentioning some of the following positive facts:

  1. Lycos is fed search results from the highly accurate FAST search engine based in Scandinavia.
  2. FAST has one of the largest databases of sites and produced Yahoo’s alternative search tool, AlltheWeb.
  3. Lycos recently redesigned their front page to make access to other features, Web, People, Yellow Pages, Shopping, Multimedia, News and Discussion search faster and easier for users.
  4. It is also reintroducing its long-ignored mascot, the Lycos Dog, leading some to anticipate a ramp-up in marketing from Lycos.

Lycos has a ten year history and is owned by the Daum Corporation, one of South Korea’s largest communication firms. It is well financed and has good technology fueling it. One wishes they would simply get ahead of the curve.