Google Tips Under Fire

Dennis Faas's picture

Firefox developer Blake Ross weighed in on Google's Tips recently, and what he had to say wasn't exactly complementary.

Ross, 21, has posted a blog accusing Google of using its tips to unfairly promote its own products during searches. The tips, which appear at the top of a search results page after specific queries such as "calendar," "blogging," and "photo sharing," are a result of Google abusing its power, says Ross. (Source:

In his blog, Ross points out that if Google's services are superior, they would appear at the top of a search, thereby eliminating the need to plug the service with a tip. "These 'tips,' then, can only be a tacit admission of failure: either the company does not believe in its own search technology, or it does not believe its products are good enough to rise to the top organically. I'd guess the latter. And if I were on the Calendar, Blogger or Picasa teams, I wouldn't be celebrating the news that my employer has lost faith in me." (Source:

While opinions on the issue have been mixed, Ross makes a good point. He also states that Google Tips are bad for both competitors and Google. Why Google? Consider the "Sponsored Links" column; these ads are labeled as promotional links, but Google's tips are not. This inequality tips the scales against advertisers. (Source:

Google's Matt Cutts responded to Ross' post in a blog on December 29th. Cutts wrote that he agrees with much of what Ross says. He also said that some tips are too untargeted to be relevant, and that if it were up to him, many of the irrelevant tips would be turned off so that only targeted ones remained. (Source:

Cutts does make one statement that seems a bit extreme. In his blog he states "it's a fact that people expect more from Google than other companies. People compare other search engines to Google, but people compare Google to perfection." (Source:

Perhaps everyone is a bit hard on Google, but it's not because people are comparing the company to perfection. When you own over half of the market share, sly moves to steal away more customers are not usually received with open arms.

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