We’ve discussed in the past Google’s gradual transition from a search engine into an answer engine. Further evidence of this surfaced this week with Google adding a new direct answer box to the top of the search results that shows quotes from famous people. To see this, do a search for a famous person and add “quotes” to the end of the query, e.g. albert einstein quotes.
You’ll see this answer box if you search for predictable things like:
Even paris hilton quotes and kanye west quotes make the cut & have answer boxes. But thankfully Google knows when to draw the line and doesn’t do this for kim kardashian quotes (& no, she doesn’t appear for vacuous bimbo quotes either – we checked).
Joking aside, the issue many see with this latest development from Google is that, whilst they are sourcing this content by scraping it from various websites, Google is not attributing or linking to these sources.
We think this is pretty unfair and that owners of these websites have every reason to be upset. After all, they’ve spent time, effort & money developing a resource which Google then simply scrapes and uses to answer questions asked by searchers. By providing the answers on the search results page with no links to those sites there’s bound to be less traffic for these web sites.
Why should you care?
Of course, you probably don’t operate a famous quotes website and may think, so what? But if you’re a publisher of content that Google could potentially scrape you should be concerned. There are precedents – the disputes between Google and European news websites upset about Google scraping their content for Google News has been well documented.
We do wonder if this is the thin end of the wedge for website owners as Google continues its move towards becoming an answer engine and precludes the need for searchers to visit the content originating sites.
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Jeremy and Mark are two of the partners behind SureFire Search. Despite their deceptively youthful appearances, both have worked in search marketing for many years. To put that in context, Google didn't even exist when Jeremy started.
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