Why Google Will Eventually Stumble

May 23, 2006

Here is a classic example of why I think Google as a company will ultimately stumble, or at least need adult management one day. Keep in mind that as a search engine, yes, they own 43.1% of the market because of basically one terrific accomplishment – the search engine.

But nearly all of their new ventures are performing marginally, at best. Gmail trails … the recently debuted Google Finance claims only 0.3 percent … In map services, online-based Google Maps claims third place in the market with 7.5 percent. Link and more text on that issue below.

After a month of hearing nothing from Google, I emailed them a post from Instapundit today. I also wrote that if they were smart they would understand that in order for their newer products to take hold, they needed early adopters – precisely the kind of people they are consistently ticking off due to little if any real customer service. So, after a month of nothing, imagine my surprise, they pick today, after my nth email with Glenn’s post included, to respond.

Hi Dan,

Thank you for your note. Your page has been blocked from our index because it does not meet the quality standards necessary to assign accurate PageRank. We cannot comment on the individual reasons your page was removed. However, certain actions such as cloaking, writing text in such a way that it can be seen by search engines but not by users, or setting up pages/links with the sole purpose of fooling search engines may result in permanent removal from our index. Please read our Webmaster Guidelines at
http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769 for more information.

Thank you for taking the time to write.

The Google Team

That’s a non-answer. I’ve done none of those things. I have no hidden links, couldn’t create blind text if I wanted to – and previously have offered to correct anything necessary, if only I knew what it was. I don’t and apparently never will, thanks to Google. And public relations like this is going to leave their new initiatives in the basement where they belong.

Yeah, I’m ticked. But besides all that, from my experience, Gmail, Google Toolbar and Maps and a few other aps actually do suck. Time to start using something new.

However, Google still lags behind in many other services, including email, where its Gmail service claims only 2.5 percent of the market.

Gmail trails e-mail king Yahoo! mail, which claims 42 percent of the market, as well as MSN Hotmail and MySpace Mail, which claim 23 percent and 19.5 percent respectively.

"Despite early adopters glowing about Gmail, it still has low numbers," said Charlene Li, analyst at Forrester Research.

Li said that Gmail’s relative newness compared to the long-established Yahoo! Mail and MSN Hotmail make it hard to take command in the marketplace.

"It’s hard for users to switch, especially with Gmail, where the interface is really different," she said. "Overall, Google is playing catch-up on mail."

Similarly, the recently debuted Google Finance claims only 0.3 percent of the business and finance information market, trailing a slew of competitors.

Meanwhile Yahoo! and MSN’s finance services rank first and second in the market, in that order.

In map services, online-based Google Maps claims third place in the market with 7.5 percent, while the downloadable Google Earth application is in fifth place with 2 percent

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  1. Yeah, but didn’t your Google indexing problems really start after the last Typepad crash?

  2. Daniel Filpatrick Wornzer says:

    To paraphrase Charlie Daniels:
    “Google may have stumbled, but she ain’t never fell, and if Jerry Yang don’t bloody believe it he can ALL GO straight to Hell! We’re gonna put Google back on her feet, to search enginning and then, GOD BLESS GOOGLE STOCK AGAIN”

  3. Libby says:

    Gmail is never going to take off. It’s the pits. I only use the account for public posting. I hate the interface and worse it’s been hanging up a lot lately.

  4. kate says:

    their search engine isn’t as good as it used to be, imo.

  5. lurking says:

    Hmm . . . well this sucks. Don’t give up on getting your site relisted. Maybe more people here will have some ideas.
    ask.com huh? You might start a trend.

  6. Scott Lawton says:

    I poked around a bit and think I found the problem. It appears that you have lots of subdomains that are just ads, e.g. education.riehlworldview.com, plus wine, events and others. As best I understand it, that’s enough to get banned from Google. Those types of pages are considered spam (for good reason), and that carries over to the main domain when it gets discovered.
    As an aside, even major sites get banned by Google, e.g. BMW.
    (The usual caveats: I don’t work for Google and don’t have any inside info.)

  7. Dan says:

    I poked around a bit and think I found the problem.
    That was the advertiser I said I dropped. AT the time I had no idea they were anything more than links on my blog. They didn’t improve my rankings. But I acknowledged them in my first email to Google and explained the whole thing.

  8. danascully says:

    Google doesn’t deserve you!

  9. kate says:

    this is probably al gore’s fault (lol, sorta). i heard he’s made a lot of money with them, enough to run again. anyway, so who is everyone going to use for a search engine now? like i indicated in my post above, i’m not getting the results i used to when google was new.

  10. danascully says:

    What about dogpile for a search engine. It has all the best of the search engines in one.

  11. Techlizard says:

    Matt Cuts, Google employee, offers advice on how to file a re-inclusion request. This worked for one of my sites:
    Follow the instructions exactly and let them know in the form that you’ve dropped the advertisers that may have been causing the problem.

  12. Peg C. says:

    I installed software that installed the Google Desktop as a “bonus.” I very quickly uninstalled it and was taken to a website to fill out a comment form as to why. I gave them chapter and verse re: censorship, support of communists and terrorists, major funding by MoveOn.org, etc. I honestly don’t know if they give a, but it sure made me feel better. I’m in the process of finding substitutes for ALL Google resources I have been using. It is leaving my vocabulary for good. Google is anathema to me and I told them so.

  13. BelchSpeak says:

    Dan, the reason Google is going downhill is because they invision themselves as being an elitist non-stop juggernaut. As such, they are failing to remain competitive and innovative.
    Yahoo, the number 2 engine is very innovative, and are more friendly with their partners, and watch out- Live.com, Microsoft’s retooled MSN search, built into the next version of IE, is more accurate than Google in its search, has great maps with a better “birdseye” view of streets, and is working to provide integrated anti-phishing and even AV into its web toolbar.
    Google has jumped the shark, and your troubles are just more evidence of this.

  14. One thing to keep in mind here about Gmail subscription numbers is that, until recently, the service was entirely invitation-only. Which means you had to know somebody who already had the service in order to get an account. Even now, they’re using mobile phone verification during the sign-up to limit the number of spammers with access to the service.
    I admit I’m not particularly fond of the Gmail interface either. I wouldn’t quite say it sucks, but it could use some work.

  15. pduggie says:

    what’s wrong with google toolbar? Is there something better?

  16. Merry says:

    The problem with a lot of these replacement search engines is that they don’t search non-European languages. If all you need is English, you’re fine. If you spend a lot of time working in Chinese (or Japanese, Korean, etc.), you cannot live without Google.

  17. Kirsten says:

    I just tried live.com and it hung my computer.
    But thanks for the ask.com tip, Dan, I’m going to use that for my searches from now on. Assuming I can break the habit of typing google.com into my browser . . .

  18. snazzy says:

    I just did a google search and it gave me riehl world view. I have always used google for it has always gave me good information. I found your site through google. Maybe I am miss understanding something. But I did a search just now and found this site on Google. Thank you, Snazzy

  19. tom swift says:

    Yes, Google’s position is more illusory than real. Google Images still shows jpgs I took down over a year ago. However often Google refreshes that database, it isn’t anywhere near fast enough. Google is also extremely slow to pick up new sites. The MSN and Yahoo (Iktomi) ‘bots seem to find my new sites within days, but Google is always weeks or months behind. G. is obviously not the giant it was a few years ago.

  20. “That was the advertiser I said I dropped. AT the time I had no idea they were anything more than links on my blog. They didn’t improve my rankings. But I acknowledged them in my first email to Google and explained the whole thing.”
    What part of Scott Lawton’s post didn’t you understand? You have spam pages like this: http://wine.riehlworldview.com/
    As long as you’ve got pages like that, Google ain’t gonna index you.

  21. PacRim Jim says:

    Google’s left-wing bias and willingness to collaborate with tyrants will lead to their downfall.

  22. Dan says:

    As long as you’ve got pages like that …
    I don’t have them. I had links on my sidebar long ago removed. Not to mention I see they are “Google ads.” Ironic Google has no issue with that. I’ve cancelled any subdomains for my domain and been completely honest with Google since first contacting them a month ago.
    If they for one minute communicated like a user friendly corporation, this wouldn’t be an issue. Iv’e gone to their message boards, blogs and haven’t been able to get any help until now – from non-Google individuals.
    Putting aside my own issue, if you have a problem with Google you have to go everywhere to try and find contact information outside of their webforms, or an email. And even then all you get is a machine.
    You can take people out of search engines (which is a lie, as they don’t given their manual interventiosn in news feeds); but you can’t completely take people out of doing business and expect to be considered anything like a user friendly entity.
    As their search technology is surpassed, and tech always is, Google will start to decline until they hire senior management with more experience in marketing and less in tech. I’m not suggesting they’ll fall, for heaven’s sake, only that they will eventually become just another company on the web.

  23. doug says:

    “What part of Scott Lawton’s post didn’t you understand? You have spam pages like this: http://wine.riehlworldview.com/
    “As long as you’ve got pages like that, Google ain’t gonna index you.”
    You’re right.
    The irony, of course, is that Google hasn’t stopped serving AdSense ads on those pages.

  24. doug says:

    “I’ve cancelled any subdomains for my domain and been completely honest with Google since first contacting them a month ago.”
    I don’t doubt the latter Dan, but your subdomains are certainly alive and well. You need to have them completely removed. Your hosting company is probably more accessible than Google and they can help you do this.

  25. The sub-domain ads are most likely what caused the banning. But that is still no excuse. Google believe they are better able to determine the value of content rather than users. I have the same types of ads on my site and, yes, they got me de-listed. My attitude is, screw Google. My advertiser pays me (and you), Google doesn’t. Yes, this will hurt traffic to a site for awhile but I don’t think it’ll last. Either Google will change it’s ways or they will lose share that will be picked up by other, more relevant search engines.
    The point is that the more sites Google bans the less relevant they become.

  26. surf-actant says:

    I use “Clusty”. I get great results, every bit as good a Google. Never have used it to find a foreign language site though, so unable to comment on that aspect.
    Google has most certainly jumped the shark. I can just imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth happening at their HQ as they begin to realize this themselves.

  27. kwo says:

    I’d like to point out that until recently Gmail was a beta product. 2.5% of the market seems pretty good for a service that was available by invitation only.
    Let’s also remember that in 1996, email was dominated by AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy. AOL still dominated in 2000. Now it’s MSN and Yahoo. What will it be four years from now?
    What’s really funny is the promotion of MSN and Yahoo, two companies that the “in-crowd” wrote off three years ago as being too old and too slow.
    Google is not going away anytime soon. My friends and I use gmail because it’s free, the ads are non-intrusive, and the interface is intuitive. The thread feature alone is worth the switch.

  28. kwo says:

    BTW, the phrase “jumped the shark” has jumped the shark.

  29. Jay says:

    I believe you will find the problem with the subdomains is that they are not hosted on your web host, but elsewhere, under control of the advertiser.
    The IP returned from riehlworldview.com is
    Wine.riehlworldview.com, by comparison, returns and that is completely unrelated.
    That’s a simple ping of each of those.
    I started playing with nslookup but can’t find much that way, apart from an association between carnivorousconservative.typepad.com and riehlworldview.com, and an A record for the wine subdomain at the above IP address.
    It appears that your domain’s IP address is supplied by typepad.com, whereas the subdomains are supplied with IP addresses elsewhere. What I was hoping to see what a complete list that included a different SOA (start of authority) for the subdomains. In any event, the A records for those subdomains must be purged from DNS. It may be possible for your host, typepad, to make that happen, being the overall DNS authority for riehlworldview.com.

  30. Bill says:

    What the Google defenders need to bear in mind is that even given its recent slump, Google is still priced very, very, aggressively. The stock trades at 57 x earnings. In contrast the S&P 500 trades at 17 x earnings. That means, just to tread water versus the index, Google is going to have to dramatically outperform the top 500 companies in the U.S. To do this, they are going to have to succeed in pretty much every project they enter, and are going to have to catch the ground floor on a number of new innovations. I’m not saying they can’t. But, if they fail to do this, the stock starts slipping, the brain trust they’ve brought on board starts defecting, causing their technology performance to slump, further eroding their stock price….well, you get the drift.

  31. Jonesy says:

    I really dont even think their search engine is that great either. Its too prone to being google bombed. You can test it by using searches that are politically controversial. I think the reason Google became as big a success as it has is because it seemd like the underdog when it started out compared to Yahoo and MSN. That made it seem cool to use it intstead of the established, ‘big business’ search engines.

  32. Doc Rampage says:

    You know, if you really want to do some good in the world, you could try suing the company that got you banned. Chances are that they knew their behavior would get you banned eventually and that they have done this to hundreds of other sites. I’m no lawyer, but is seems like that behvior (if my guess is right) would be actionable.
    Every time someone causes trouble for a spammer, the world is a better place.

  33. paul a'barge says:

    Why Ask.com sucks far worse than Google:
    read the first comment at this link:

  34. Dean's World says:

    Don’t Be Evil, Huh?

    Google appears to enjoy banning sites which are politically incorrect or critical of Goo…

  35. Kai Carver says:

    Google> “setting up pages/links with the sole purpose of fooling search engines”
    Riehl> I’ve done none of those things
    Scott> wine.riehlworldview.com
    Riehl> I don’t have them
    Brian> What part of Scott’s post didn’t you understand?
    Riehl> That was the advertiser I said I dropped
    Umm… Your criticism of Google is interesting. But your particular example? Looks like bad faith. You allowed a spammer to use your domain. He’s still using it, and you don’t understand why Google doesn’t spell it out for you? Looks to me like Google is doing a pretty good job, and you seem confused at best.

  36. Dan says:

    Umm… Your criticism of Google is interesting. But your particular example? Looks like bad faith
    BS – Contacting Google immediately, building a sitemap, signing onto analytics and repeatedly asking them for feedback from someone who is a blogger, not a web guru is not bad faith. I indicated my willingness to make any and all alterations required to bring the site up to their requirements. I also posted to their support board with zero responses weeks ago. Sell that bad faith crap somewhere else.

  37. Korla Pundit says:

    The main point is that by blocking useful results from searches, Google is devaluing its own service. What ticks me off the most is that when I do use Google, which is less and less frequent, the results are almost all useless fake websites that are not what they look like in the search results. I also detest Google News blocking out non-lefty websites with lame explanations about criteria for “news” organizations, while leaving in islamofascist propaganda sites like IslamOnline.net and even worse. But even more annoying is their insistence that it’s all done by some kind of hands-off algorithm. What friggin liars those dudes are.

  38. Dan says:

    Another thing – a few are suggesting Iv’e said Google has no right to drop anyone. I haven’t said that. What I have said is they their failure to communicate with users is a failing which will catch up to them, just as it has every techno-centric company. Techies hate MS – but MS played the marketing and communications game better than the technocentric game and all the techie haters in the world haven’t dented them as a corporation.
    If the Internet is supposed to be for everyone, then large players shouldn’t interface with the public like they either have a CS degree, or they don’t count. That inside tech approach is always going to fail. Techies, like SJP – who I will be deleting – are quick to crap all over everything but too lazy, malcontented and ineffectual to ever consider that by helping others, they increase the value of their techinical knowledge, as opposed to undermining it.

  39. Joshua says:

    On top of everything else discussed here, there’s also Blogspot, Google’s blog-hosting service. To put it succinctly, it’s become a spammers’ haven, and Google hasn’t done a d@mn thing to put a stop to it. At least one of my favorite blogs (WindsOfChange.net) has gone so far as to block comments and trackbacks that include the blogspot.com domain, and I don’t blame them a bit for doing so.

  40. Pope Ratzo says:

    Please don’t whine. It’s perfectly reasonable for your site to have been “disintegrated” by Google. Your own words above explain the reason clearly.
    The next time you want to make easy money with spam.riehlworldview.com, think it over before cashing the check.

  41. lurking says:

    Very interesting discussion.
    “If they for one minute communicated like a user friendly corporation, this wouldn’t be an issue. Iv’e gone to their message boards, blogs and haven’t been able to get any help until now – from non-Google individuals.”
    Just my own .00002 cents. The way that blogs are set up is very different compared to how a site is set up. There are no tags, page titles are iffy . . . you can’t do any keyword adjusting. If you had trouble getting help from people it might be because they don’t really understand the setup of a blog – I know I don’t and it’s a mystery to me how they do so well in the engines. It is not that blogs are any less important.

  42. bbscan says:

    BelchSpeak – I agree with you. Yahoo is doing a much better job of putting out smart useful applications. I consider myself fairly familiar with the Internet and Googles approach has been to throw technology at everything instead of creating useful intuitive apps. How does everyone feel about network neutrality?

  43. Dan – when you originally had those domains set up, you had to ask your web host to alter the DNS settings for those domains (unless you did it yourself). What you need to do is have them change them back. Otherwise they will remain out there forever – whether or not you remove the domains on your IP address.
    After that you can reapply to Google if you wish to.

  44. Kai Carver says:

    Dan> Sell that bad faith crap somewhere else
    Actually, I don’t have anything to sell. You do, however, which is how you got in this bind in the first place.
    Several people have pointed out a plausible explanation for why Google has done this. You have not acknowledged this help, and responded with further denial and venting.
    You’ve enabled spammers, through some combination of ignorance and greed. They are *still* using your domain, poisoning the well for all of us. You haven’t taken any steps to end this. This has nothing to do with Google. And yet you act all high and mighty? Strange.

  45. Jim C. says:

    BelchSpeak wrote, “Dan, the reason Google is going downhill is because they invision themselves as being an elitist non-stop juggernaut. As such, they are failing to remain competitive and innovative.”
    So you’re saying Google is the Apple of the Web? Apt comparison.

  46. Rick Heller says:

    The Centrist Coalition’s blog, Centerfield (http://www.centristcoalition.com/blog/) has also been blocked by Google. Haven’t figured out why. I’ve put up a sitemap, and haven’t gotten any feedback from it about why we’re blocked. We have no ads, except for three I personally created, so I know they’re don’t violate Google’s policy.

  47. Greg D says:

    Ok, let’s see if I understand things correctly:
    for having a subdomain http://wine.riehlworldview.com/, which Google advertises on, it is therefore appropriate for Google to ban http://riehlworldview.com/? Do I have that correct?
    And, that furthermore it is appropriate for Google to refuse to say exactly why they’re banning http://riehlworldview.com/?
    Not to be rude, but are you out of your mind? Are we to believe that the people at Google are so technically incompetent that they can’t index riehlworldview.com w/o also indexing wine.riehlworldview.com? Are we to believe that the people at Google are our moral betters, and therefore should be in the business of banning websites run by people who don’t meet Google’s moral standards?
    Web pages aren’t Spam. Spam is the crap that shows up in my mailbox. Google needs to stuff the snotty, self-eighteous attitude (and, let’s be frank here, people who help the Chinese government engage in censorship have forfeited any right to claim the moral high ground, ever), and get back to doing business.
    I fear that if those idiots keep this kind of stupid crap up, the result is they’re going to discover the joys of anti-trust laws. And the limits that the government imposes on companies that control a large part of a market.

  48. Dan says:

    Kai: Several people have pointed out a plausible explanation for why Google has done this. You have not acknowledged this help, and responded with further denial and venting.
    If you can’t read English, why bother? My domain is at GoDaddy. I have deleted any and all sub domains, which I would have done immediately if I had known that was the issue. And as it stands, I can’t do anything else. And Google doesn’t even have the decency to say – you’re banned or life, or wait x weeks or months.
    If they banned the url for life, so be it. I’m not complaining about that, as some Google-eyed useful idiots seem to be going on about. I can start anew having learned something and not repeat the error. But by not communicating, I have no idea what Google’s position is.

  49. TJ says:

    It looks to me like Dan is jumping through all the hoops necessary, and more, to try and get re-listed by Google. At this point, I don’t think its even worth it. But when guys like Pope Ratzo (clearly either a guy with an over-inflated ego, or unsuccessfully dealing with issues of respect vis-a-vis peoples’ religious beliefs) say he is whining for not getting any support from “customer support”, I take issue. What does he have to do, Pope? Get a new name and SSN? Delete everything and start over? New site name, hosting company, and content – something which Google (and presumably you) doesn’t find so unappealing? Really, what? Never had a bad customer service experience? Never had to send the wrong food back in a restaurant? Never had a mischarge at a store which you wanted to get removed? Never try to take advantage of a warranty? Never have to go through the process of making a bank realize that they actually made an error? Maybe Dan is just trying to let the rest of us know what we can expect and that just maybe, we would be better off using a different service. Ive always though that was one of the best uses of the Internet… Ultimately, the choice is ours, but you have obviously never made a bad choice in your life that you are willing to admit, have you?
    Lurking: Actually, the type of tags to which you refer are extremely easy to set up in any true blogging engine. Although you don’t design a page foreach new entry, there is a template that the system follows for each. All you do is insert the tags into the head section of the template and when the page is drawn up, they are there, along with the required entry/entries and dynamic content from the database. Hope this gives you a little more background. I recommend getting a free blogspot – you don’t have to actually put anything out there, but it is a way to learn about web presentation.

  50. Daniel Newby says:

    “But by not communicating, I have no idea what Google’s position is.”
    That continues to amaze me. Google’s only moneymaker is ads. In that market they have many strong competitors, yet they have no apparent interest in retaining franchisees. As the years roll by, I predict they will come to sorely miss the franchisees they are working so hard to alienate. 0.5% per year adds up.
    I have heard the argument that they keep quiet so that nobody can figure out how their spam detectors work. I don’t buy it. A career spammer does not learn anything by being told “You have 8000 subdomains, and 7999 are blatant spam pits.”
    P.S. GoDaddy’s/DomainsByProxy’s DNS servers are still answering requests for wine.riehlworldview.com. If the changes don’t show up by 24 hours from now, do some more digging and find out just who is controlling your DNS.
    P.P.S How did those spam pits get into your DNS in the first place? If you gave your GoDaddy/DomainsByProxy password to the spammers, you probably want to change it. Also consider that any email to @riehlworldview.com could have been snooped by somebody who controlled your DNS.

  51. Dan says:

    Thanks – I’ve been on the phone with GoDaddy twice. Pretty amazing, huh? All I had to do is cal on my dime, unlike Google where you cant get past a machine. ANyway, they say it is a matter of time as everything that needed deleted is gone. Regardless, as I could sit here forever and never be re-indexed by Google (again, they won’t say) I may just open another site for my crime and popular story blogging if I want to be in their index for that. It’s not relevant to my political blogging. Oh and I never have used the email at my domain, so that isnt an issue.

  52. Adrock says:

    their failure to communicate with users is a failing
    Dan, I understand your frustration. Still, its not entirely only with Google. My company had a problem with Yahoo where our emails were going into their spam folder, even though we clearly conform to their terms of service. It took repeated attempts to contact them before they did anything about it. Point is, big companies deal with many different users and filtering out who is worth their time and who isn’t is probably a very difficult task.

  53. brian says:

    To Those In Favor of Search Engine Spam, We Salute You

    A number of conservative websites have been slamming Google lately — it started with Google’s foray into China, but has ranged from Google’s removing sites from its Google News service because they ran racist anti-Muslim screeds to rumors that Google is

  54. Ming says:

    good point, How about eq2 gold?

  55. ann says:

    By the way, I have been looking up on the Internet and I have found some tools which are really cools to monitor the positioning of the competition, as well as seeing their tips and tricks. If you are interested, I advised to you have a look. It seems they are free: http://www.lineared.com/es/recuperar/en-datos-posiciones-google-msn-yahoo.htm

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