Rivals Protest: Google Base Diverts Clicks

Google's classifieds feature is breaking a rule of bulk ad feed etiquette with its landing page, other search companies say.

My word! Internet giant Google Inc. stands accused of an etiquette breach.

The hubbub this week is over recent changes to Google Base, Googles free feature for searching content contributed by its registered users.

Google Base caters to average Joes that want to get rid of an old TV, lets say, but it also gets its listings in bulk from Internet marketing and advertising companies like Careerbuilder.com.

The faux pas in question is that Google now directs every Web browser from Google Base search results to what it calls a landing page, which is a Google-controlled Web site that contains Googles version of the listings details.

But thats a violation of longstanding custom regarding a traffic-for-bulk ads tradeoff.

Typically, someone clicking on a listing, known as a feed, from one of these bulk providers, is always directed to the feeds site, not to some other page that potentially reduces the traffic boon.

The search engine Oodle Inc., in its official Weblog this week, called attention to Googles supposed misstep, adding that it and two other search engines that also rely on feeds, SimplyHired Inc. and Indeed, have "made an explicit decision not to do this."

/zimages/5/28571.gifRead more here about Oodle and other so-called vertical search engines.

A Google representative said the changes to Google Base are part of the features continuing evolution and that Google welcomes the feedback.

The etiquette issue speaks to a broader point about Googles plummeting public image. Once a rarity, the airing of Google dirty laundry by ex-employees and gripes about Google customer service are usually now only a few search queries away.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about complaints from Google customers.

The ill will may be the price for Googles stunning business growth, going from a bare bones Internet search engine to a major rival of techs leading company, Microsoft Corp. But the bigger a company gets, the more it becomes a target for pot shots.

For example, "Google isnt acting like a real business, they are acting like an over-enthusiastic Golden Retriever puppy," wrote a blogger at Onotech, which contains several rants about bad Google customer service. "Oh, they just knocked the vase off the table with their tail, but arent they cute?"

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