Vampires seem all the rage lately, Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Weekend and that other vampire film that just looks like a cash-in on Twilight. So, it’s no surprise that the fanged phenomenon has found its own way into the world of search through the accusation that Google is indeed a "vampire" by Mark Cuban of Mahalo.
Now I have no intention of discussing the rights and wrongs of why this has come about, if you are interested, Danny Sullivan has written an excellent post summing up the whole Mahalo and Google issue.
Instead, taking it at face value, the accusation that Google is a vampire, an evil Internet vampire using other site’s content to feed their habit – making money. The argument seems to be that site owners everywhere are bending to meet Google’s webmaster guidelines and in return not receiving anything back – nothing of monetary value anyway. All that is happening is that Google continue to use all of these sites as resources, to increase the value of their search engine and in turn their opportunity to make more money.
Google do make money from their search results pages and ads, they do ‘aggregate’ these results so on one hand it could be levelled that they are using the web as a money making playground. However, and here is the clincher, no one has to use Google, the majority do because it is the best at what it does, it provides relevant results quickly.
They are dominating the Internet and how long it will last is anyone’s guess. Calling them names probably isn’t the route most people would think to start with (some people actually like vampires), they realised a lot sooner than everyone else that content is the one thing that will always be of value on the web and is the one thing people will always want to search for. Whether aggregated or not, if consistent good content is there, people will want to read it, (and link to it).
Highlighting content aggregation on this sort of scale is a sign of an uncertain road ahead and in my mind seems to be setting the first bricks on the road towards a feeling that certain corporations are keen to put content away locked behind logins and subscriptions. It would be interesting to see if it would be sustainable for a news site to adopt such a model as it would instantly cut Google out of the equation due to how they crawl the web. Due to their overwhelming grip on the Internet on a global scale, that is a move most definitely not for the faint of heart!
Would you pay to read your preferred newspaper online, or would you refuse to pay and go and use Google with the hope of finding something else that was free?