Scoble: Facebook, Techmeme, Mahalo (!) will depose Google

Scoble’s provocatively suggesting that Google should fear Facebook, Techmeme, and Mahalo.   I think his key assumption is that these social media environments are resistant to spammy SEO tricks and therefore will do a better job of delivering relevancy over time than Google which will continue to be weighed down by junky content and spamming.

But … I think he’s wrong.   Google could be deposed by a better search tool, but I don’t think that will come from any of these three.    Techmeme is great and I think will gradually scale into a powerful blog tool, Facebook is already on it’s way to co-dominance (with myspace) as the social network of choice for many.    I’m skeptical Mahalo will gain much traction.   I have not been following it all that closely but Mahalo’s “top of mind” prominence seems to be more from Jason’s amazingly aggressive promotional efforts than from a natural rise in the ranks.    But depose Google?   Nope, not gonna happen from these players.

11 thoughts on “Scoble: Facebook, Techmeme, Mahalo (!) will depose Google

  1. Pingback: On the future of search at Liako.Biz

  2. I think Scoble’s key assumption is that if he puts together a video predicting the fall of google he’ll get tons of free press. Perhaps he should have thought his argument through a little better beforehand though.

  3. Perhaps part of the ‘optimization’ is to predict the fall of google.

    I’m a good bit unqualified to comment on search engine quality but have formed some impressions recently. I sometimes think that in our society responsibility for whopping errors is glossed over.

    When OffTrackBetting opened in NYC the losing tickets (pretty much ALL tickets) were dropped onto floors and sidewalks. No one ever thought to hold OTC accountable for failing to see that this would happen.

    Katrina threatened New Orleans and the Mayor asked everyone to leave but also announced a shelter of last resort and everyone opted for the shelter of last resort. No one wants to hold the Mayor accountable for utter stupidity.

    I think its the same with Google: they created a system of adlinks which, as far as I understand it, rewards people for creating pages of low quality (or even no quality at all) simply on the off chance that someone will click on their search items and somewhere an extra cent will be added to their google adsense account. This means that google searches often return greater and greater amounts of low quality hits. I’ve noticed that google now seems to return contact pages rather than a home page and also that the ‘teaser’ info often is a copyright notice or disclaimer of some sort that provides the searcher with useless information. Google had a great name, a great system, … but it seems to have created a system that can be exploited too easily.

    Who will ‘win’ in the end? Many doctors find that they use one order entry system in the morning and then walk across the street from their office to the hospital and use a totally differnt system. The advantage goes to the unified interface. The system that the user is accustomed to using beats any system that may objectively be better but requires some sort of exploration and learning curve.

    Sure the search results actually returned matter, especially those on the first page but what really matters to the user is ease of use. More and more that means ‘familiarity’.

  4. Nice one FG – I think you have outlined the “adsense challenge” nicely above. My take is that Google could “fix” a lot of this problem by applying higher quality requirements to adsense sites but they fear this would hit revenues too hard.

  5. Well, thats like a restaurant chain that adopted a policy of having the waitress suggest extra items all the (censored) time. This ‘how about some “X” with that’ was indeed a way that increased their per-check amount, but it soon annoyed all their customers and the per-check amount as well as the number of checks declined. Short sighted ‘profits’ cuts into quality and destroys their customer base.

    If Google wants to make money with adsense clicks on utter garbage and near garbage, fine. The annoyance to the ultimate user will make them go elsewhere and someone will provide that ‘elsewhere’!

    These sites that provide a menu of garbage in the hopes that if you click they get a tenth of a cent and if you don’t click they lose nothing may be correct. Its Google who loses in that situation. Google just won’t realize that for some time.

    Some site that ostensibly returns sites relevant to my search query but in reality returns a mishmash of nonsense such as Ringtones, Debt Adjustment, HotAsianBabes and the like may generate Short Term revenue, but it annoys the customer. If you annoy your customers all the time you have to be a ‘de jure monopoly’ NOT a ‘de facto monopoly’. Annoy enough customers and they will seek out quality somewhere else. As it stands now there are all these absurd posts or absurd webpages that are solely designed to ‘attract clicks’. There are even ‘click clubs’ and offshore paid-clickers. Google seems to believe in this Multi Level Marketing… well soon you run out of fools you can rope into buying junk. Google is going to wind up with lots of link matrices and lots of these rythms from Al Gore that seem to be so valuable for some reason but Google will lose its user-base to search engines that don’t take a near-term aproach of clicks but instead go for quality which appears to mean ‘satisfied clicks’ rather than spamdexed junk.

  6. FoolsGold you are more in line with Scoble’s point than I am – as you note, the garbage content is primarily a function of Google rev share money that has been *cascading* into the system over the past few years via Adsense publisher payments. Google works hard to keep these sites out of organic listings but I’m not convinced they are “winning” that battle. But also important is that one man’s spam is another’s brilliancy. I find few who understand this point but it’s clear to me that “quality” is very, very, very subjective. This is why the initial Google PR algo was so successful – it did not use editors to decide quality, it used the community.

  7. I agree with the ‘Google has marketshare as well as “mindshare”‘ and I certainly agree that Google is not a moribund, stationary target.

    Quality is subjective? YES. Indeed it is. And it is variable as to user, time and perhaps can vary somewhat whimsically (which means algorithms are going to be real hard to develop). Assuming that Mahalo will indeed only serve up a tiny slice of pages, one can then approach the question of quality. If someone merely wants to know where a hurricane is headed there are zillions of ‘consensus predicted track’ sites and ANY of them will have a good measure of quality. If someone really needs to dig below the consensus and see the individual model results there are again any number of quality sites. Which search engine will know what the user wants and find “quality”? I’m sure some people would consider a Nigerian Bank Account email to have quality. Some people will consider Propaganda and Disinformation sites to have quality. Quality is indeed subjective and variable as to time and place. Yet quality is the one factor that will have a critical effect. It may take some time for quality to be perceived but as Google starts to suffer more and more from “adsense spam” ANY other technique will improve its marketshare and mindshare. Mahalo is a creamskimmer? Okay: most of the time that means its ‘quality’ will be perceived by most users as very high.

  8. Do you think I can get my money back? (Response to assertion that subjective quality can be seen in Nigerian emails).
    Ofcourse you can get your money back. A foundation will even help you recover your funds. The foundation pays sixty percent of the necessary fees to recover your funds and you only have to send forty percent of those fees. Your funds were impounded by a Nigerian court and you need only send some bribe money to have the funds released.

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