Answers.com raises questions about Google's power

16 Comments

[qi:011] If anyone had doubts about Google having too much control on search in general, and web at large, just give Bob Rosenschein, CEO of Answers.com a call. In a press release this morning, Answers.com said:

Answers Corporation (ANSW) announced today that, due to a search engine algorithmic adjustment by Google, Answers.com has seen a drop in search engine traffic starting last week. As a result, overall traffic is currently down approximately 28% from levels immediately prior to the change.

Rosenschein says he expects nearly 70% of total traffic to Answers.com to come directly to their sites. Regardless, this should serve as a warning to all those (including myself) who depend on Google for large percentage of their traffic.

Related Posts: Google vs Jimmy Wales & Open Source Search

16 Comments

Greg Linden

Findory had a similar problem about a year ago, losing about 1/4 of its traffic mostly because of a change in Google’s ranking.

It is not entirely clear, but what may have happened is that Findory was no longer considered the authoritative source for the news and blog excerpts shown on the site.

As bad as it was for Findory, it is hard to complain about that. The original news source or blog should be considered the authoritative source.

I suspect something similar might have happened to Answers.com. Answers.com often has mostly content from Wikipedia for its page.

Perhaps Google now considers Wikipedia, the original source, to be the authoritative source and is sending traffic that used to go to Answers.com directly to Wikipedia.

David Mackey

I’m not a big fan of Answers.Com, so I’m not disappointed that Google has revised their algorithm to place answers results lower.

chris

Google can do what ever they want. They are not a communist organization formed for the good of companies trying to serve more pages. They only have to answer to their stockholders and their users, both of which are pleased.

That being said, they do concentrate on making the webmasters happy as they have the best set of tools and reporting for webmasters, they are responsive and have a good open dialog on all the topics.

Damon Billian

Disclaimer: I like Google. I still think they provide the best results out there. I am just putting on the hat of a skeptic..

I think the questions here are:

  1. How does Google decide to rank one company higher & another company not? (yes, links are one factor; but what do you do when you know SEO folks are attempting to game the system?).

  2. Does Google give companies the right to contest how their results are showing? I believe that the answer is, “No.” If I fall from 1st to 30th in the results, would I have the ability to at least question the “why”? No.

  3. Who at Google makes these decisions? A lot of people would probably be somewhat skeptical about it entirely being something tied to an algorithm.

  4. How is content quality rated? I would personally think that this is something that only a human being could do (which is why you have the del.icio.us/stumbleupon crowd). How would computers figure this out?

Erik Kalviainen

The math doesn’t seem to add up. If a Google algo change results in a 28% drop in total traffic, it doesn’t make sense that 70% of their traffic is direct, unless they lost all of their Google traffic.

stone

Answers.com is barely a real company and the algo changes at Google effect nearly any/all companies that have lots of pages. it’s part of the game.

danny

Om,

I think the 70% stat refers to traffic heading to all Answers Corp sites including Dictionary.com (which they are in the process of acquiring). The Answers.com domain itself still gets a very large portion of its traffic from search.

Rishi

No. I believe that less than 5% of internet users use feeds.

Chetan

I thought most bloggers had their readers on feed rather than search engine.

Om Malik

From Live.com, very little, but spaces.live.com is pretty good. we are seeing new referrals which means they are beginning to gain some traction.

JoeShmoe

Om, it’d be interesting to know if you are seeing any bump, even if a teeny bit non-negligible one, in the traffic you get from LIVE?

David

I don’t think you have anything to worry about Om, you have great content. Google is trying to deliver the best content out there and answers.com certainly isn’t that. Most of their articles, while informative, border on splog content; they are so heavily in filled with ads that you can barely decipher what’s content. If anything they deserve this demotion in rankings.

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