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Thu Apr 16 2015 10:55:39

Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to Play?

By: Reader
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Dear Ina,
It was with interest that we noted the European Union anti-trust allegations against Google. If I understand the accusations properly, they focus primarily on traffic manipulation that favors their own products and services.

We belong to a group of small sellers that deal in vintage clothing and there's been extensive conversation about an immediate drop in sales for all of us that occurred simultaneously with a major Google algorithm release last year. The drop in sales appears to be correlated to highly reduced visibility for authentic vintage offered by small sellers. 

Searches for vintage now yield either "vintage style", "vintage inspired" or reproduction vintage that is mass produced by larger manufacturers who can afford to fund Google results. For instance, a search for "vintage dress", aside from Etsy, yields only reproduction vintage websites on the first page of results.

I must admit that we don't understand all of the machinations involved and, of course, Google needs to be secretive in order to dissuade manipulation of search results. 

However, it seems to me that Google's mission should be to return search results that are in keeping with the searcher's intents - when someone searches for vintage clothing, they, for the most part, expect authentic vintage, not reproductions. 

If those with the deepest pockets get to influence search results, this doesn't seem to be copacetic with the goal of providing accurate information in a neutral manner. It most certainly doesn't favor the small vintage seller as their business model is based on a love of what they do, not on a focus for large profit.

It would seem to me that due to their monopoly power, Google has a responsibility to act in a manner more consistent with their mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful". 

As it stands now, they are acting as a typical corporation, simply seeking to maximize profit, by returning results that are manipulated by monetary considerations, instead of returning information as requested by the person searching. 

Ina, I think that this would be an interesting topic for you to explore as it has to do with the net neutrality discussion that is now ongoing.
Best regards, 
Ron



Comments (29) | Permalink
Readers Comments

Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Apr 16 11:38:55 2015
I sell vintage and antique collectibles and find the same thing. I do not think it is in any way honest for Google to limit, move it way down in the list of views or exclude any item that a person is searching for. We all go to Google and other search venues hoping to see everything that we are looking for, not things that the search engine deems important base on who paid what to get it seen. Either you are a bona fide search engine, or you are dealing in commerce. I think it's a conflict of interest in the biggest way for Google to be invloved in this sort of commercial enterprise.

If you want to do something like that, then start a new company which is strictly in the retail business.

I am so glad that Europe is persuing the situation.  
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford
       
Thu Apr 16 14:07:07 2015
OP says "those with the deepest pockets get to influence search results"

Unfortunately, this is the way of the world and it only seems to be getting worse.  Even our politicians are owned by big money. And companies like AT&T and Verizon want to end net neutrality.
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
       Web Site
Thu Apr 16 19:33:10 2015
Yes, this is what Google Shopping "paid" search is apparently all about; no pay, no view; it works basically the same way as search now works on eBay; the search provider favours those that contribute to their revenue; of course, in the case of eBay, Johnny Ho’s concept of such process has failed miserably.

I look at Google Web and Google Shopping as two different animals; I hope that Google Web is a search engine that does not discriminate and, indeed, Google does flag paid adverts on Google Web, and one hopes that everyone else is getting equal treatment.

Google Shopping is a different kettle of fish; it is more akin to a classified advertising site, whereby Google presents an aggregation of all the products that it can find, or are submitted to it in an appropriate format. The question then is, why should advertisers not pay for such exposure, directly or via the likes of another aggregating site like eBay?

Of course, eBay much prefers revenue to expenditure, and the reality is, eBay is never going to look after anyone but eBay, even if they cut of their nose in the process …

Google is not a monopoly; ultimately, no one is forced to use Google; Yahoo! and Bing are alternative search engines …

Regardless, all commerce is about making money, and the managing executives thereof want to make as much as they can as quickly as they can …
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
This user has validated their user name. by: Basset
       
Thu Apr 16 20:13:30 2015
I sell some vintage items (not clothing) on etsy.  Does losing the word ''vintage'' in the title bar help - if the item is already in the vintage category?

Can you use things like ''50's'' or ''60's'' or even ''old'' with all its connotations instead of vintage?

I am by far NOT an expert on SEO so I don't know if this is off base or not.


As a buyer, I am becoming aware of just how much junk comes up in search if you use the word ''vintage'' - on the buying end, my searches are worded with more effort on ALL the venues just to find what I want in the results.

Did all the venues out there get together and decide to make it harder for buyers to search & get good results

Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
by: Ron This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Apr 16 20:23:02 2015
Philip,  
We are talking about Google Web search and not about Google Shopping.
You are right that they are not a true monopoly, but they definitely have monopoly power in that they have 67.6% of the market in the US - Bing has 18.7% and Yahoo has 10.1%.  Incidentally, all 3 return similar results, with repro vintage sellers dominating the first pages of results.  It hadn't been like that previous to last year's Panda release, so I don't know if somehow Google's results have an organic impact on the other search engines or if Bing and Yahoo somehow copy or clone the Google algorithm.  In any case, there's something rotten in Denmark as the saying goes, and the small guys are getting the short end of the stick.
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Apr 16 23:34:13 2015
Several of us have found that this problem also migrates over to the regular Google search. It is not supposed to, but it does.
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy
       
Fri Apr 17 10:22:53 2015
I don't sell vintage but I do sell unusual tools. Most of the time they show up on Google search (sometimes on page 1) and occasionally show up in Google shopping. I pay Google nothing for these search placements.
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
by: TomH This user has validated their user name.
       
Sat Apr 18 20:34:29 2015
The problem of screwed up search results is across the boards with google these days.

They have moved far beyond their ''do no evil'' of earlier days.
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
by: LinneyPinney This user has validated their user name.
       
Sun Apr 19 00:07:26 2015
Tool guy , when you search for your inventory , you will see them on page 1 because you have visited your items. I will not see what you see. This is called "personalized search" and it has greatly and negatively impacted small sellers.  Google remembers where you go and what you look at. Do not be fooled and assume that your items are on page one for everyone. It's only happening with you and your best customers.
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
by: Santini This user has validated their user name.
       
Sun Apr 19 01:14:21 2015
The temptation to manipulate search results for one's own benefit is too great. Not only google but businesses great and small with their SEO manipulations. 'Twas always thus.
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
by: Etsy Seller This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Apr 20 01:04:08 2015
What Etsy said to do is NOT use 'vintage' in your titles, especially as the first word. More so that that word is used seldom, even in that part of the descriptions that gets picked up by the Google bots IF you have designated your item as vintage in the first place.
As a vintage seller on Etsy, sales went to handbaskets early last fall, picked up in January, then fell apart again.
No way to make a living if you are not making enough to even pay your Etsy bill.
Most Etsy sellers blame the slowdown on Etsy, not Google, altho constantly changing the algorithms doesn't help anyone.
We are also tired of the 'if you like this, you may like that' advertising done on Etsy, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, etc. I can ignore it, but when the ads make the page jump around, it is hard not to click on places you don't want to go, further confusing your 'interest list'.
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
by: miaonorato This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Apr 20 01:23:45 2015
I sold vintage lingerie among other thing vintage and new on eBay for 5 years. The first couple of years were great. I couldn't keep up with the listings. Seemed as soon as I put them up they had bids.
Then everything started slowing down. I had less and less views and of course less sales because of that.
Every time Ebay changed their rules, sellers got shafted. I went along for a couple more years with dwindling sales til I just gave up.
I have an extensive inventory and need to sell my items. I have recently gone back to Etsy and at first I got 2 sales really quickly. Then nothing for the next month. I'm going to stick it out and get more inventory up and see what happens.
The only other option I can see is to start my own website. Scary though, especially hearing about Goggle? We small sellers just can't win. The corporation are infecting all levels of retail and eCommerce.  
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
This user has validated their user name. by: TheUglySweaterShop
       Web Site
Mon Apr 20 04:13:52 2015
I sell vintage sweaters. I've not had this problem. Year over year my website traffic grows, since I started it in 2009. I don't pay for Google ads or pay to be in Google Shopping. I don't sell on a marketplace either. I have bigger competitors in my niche who do pay for advertising but I've found no need to.  
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Apr 20 04:58:07 2015
All I can say is if as many small sellers in Europe lost a good portion of their income as have many small seller  in the US because Google went from a viable search engine to an overbearing e-catalog, I hope the European Union smacks them on the nose.  
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
by: corpuschristi1956 This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Apr 20 05:26:04 2015
How come this does not apply to net neutrality?
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
by: Watching the Wheels This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Apr 20 06:26:39 2015
For starters, I ignore official Etsy advise. I don't think they know what they are talking about. Just look at the choices in their new categories.

Etsy items are not being found because they have been categorized into Etsy bizarre land. I've begun to notice very lopsided results from the new catagories. When blended with the ugly crap that Etsy curates into "trends", and the other above the fold first search choices presented to the public, what can you realistically expect?

THEN if you do try a search from the category pages, they do NOT offer all the possible color choices and there is only very limited areas to try to drill down a search.

From what I've seen computers do not have it within their programming to be able to distinguish overall meaning or phrases.

This is also NOT the first time when Etsy has tanked views and sales wise. The same phenomena occurred beginning in the fall of 2009, and wasn't fully noticed until the spring of 2010. This years drop off also began last year around August-September, but dropped off a cliff when the new catagories rolled out.

Net neutrality is bandied about by the cyber land elite in their power struggles with various governments. The new age cyber land robber barons have made money, hand over fist, and enjoy being able to hide behind computer screens.

Personally, I would prefer to see some controls put into place, and also see people stopping the tooling themselves out to the 1%ers, who are trying to reinvent the world.

I'm guessing that the term "vintage" has been used and abused into becoming too much of a generic word.

We're going to find better, and more finite descriptors for our items.
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Apr 20 06:56:18 2015
Net neutrality has nothing to do with search or Google or Etsy. Rather, it is a massive form of Big Government regulation that's been imposed as a way to further tax the internet and impose restrictions on free speech, commerce and our liberties in general.
Many online sellers, especially the dupes on Etsy who believe all of Chad's crap about the "transformation" of the economy don't know that Chad is a part of the Obama administration and was recently given an official position on a Trade council.

Sellers need to wake up and get a little more politically savvy. You know the expression about the 3 biggest lies? One of them is, "I'm from the Government and I'm here to help you."

The real One Percent works out of Washington DC - they are unelected bureaucrats who enact tens of thousands of regs every year, people you will never hear of, but who have managed to destroy the economy of this once great country along with their master, Emperor Obama.
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
by: Biglouis This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Apr 20 08:17:22 2015
In common with many erstwhile successful Etsy sellers I am finding that since early April (and the intoroduction of the new categories) my sales have tanked. I am curently at about one two thirds down on revenue from April of last year. I have dones considerable research and work in my Etsy shop in making my titles and tags relevent for Etsy SEO but this has made no difference to my miserable sales this month. I promote avtively on social media such as twitter and pinterest so its not that I just sit on my hands and wait for sales to ''just come''. I have good sales on another platform where I list (Ruby Lane) so thank heavens I diversified to other channels. A sudden drop in sales such as this cannot be explained by ''changes in fashion'' or ''increased competition'' which would more likely show a gradual decrease in revenue.
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
by: MRV This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Mon Apr 20 08:24:41 2015
Excellent letter Ron.

Thank you for addressing the collusion between search engine and large manufacturers, and perpetuated fraud in regards to authentic vintage items.

''Vintage'' is indeed being used now to evoke more of a style, rather than as a  legitimate form of identification, no thanks to the new skewed and biased Search results.

Even the queries that I receive have changed over the past year.  E.g., ''Do you have this dress in other colors?'' or ''Can you make this gown in my size?'', etc.

Also, kudos to 'Watching the Wheels' for an accurate assessment of Etsy's inability to provide any kind of legitimate advice in most cases.

The New Categories debacle is just one of the very many fumbles that buyers and sellers alike, are subjected to on an almost daily basis.
Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to   Vintage Suffers in Google Search Results - Pay to
by: Sally This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Apr 20 08:37:47 2015
Flying Childers is correct that net neutrality has nothing to do search, Etsy or Google however, it is quite the opposite of the rest of his/her description.

Net Neutrality means an Internet that enables and protects free speech. It means that Internet service providers should provide us with open networks — and should not block or discriminate against any applications or content that ride over those networks. Just as your phone company shouldn't decide who you can call and what you say on that call, your ISP shouldn't be concerned with the content you view or post online.

Without Net Neutrality, cable and phone companies could carve the Internet into fast and slow lanes. An ISP could slow down its competitors' content or block political opinions it disagreed with. ISPs could charge extra fees to the few content companies that could afford to pay for preferential treatment — relegating everyone else to a slower tier of service. This would destroy the open Internet.

Do you really want the likes of Comcast, Verizon or AT&T deciding what you can access and how fast that access will be? Come on. Do a little research on what net neutrality REALLY means.
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