- Posted by Melanie
- 13 December 2012
- Ecommerce Marketing
Google's Bait & Switch
Many of you shop online.... Most of you have used the super helpful Google shopping results in your regular searches when buying things online. They are helpful, you get a picture and to compare prices BEFORE even visiting the website.
Until recently these results have been free for merchants who follow the rules to send their products in for product search. So you can get good results from websites who are providing Google honest data about their products such as UPC numbers, prices, shipping, taxes etc.
Google recently announced that by the end of summer these results, will no longer be the quality merchants you have come to see here, but rather only merchants to PAY GOOGLE to be there.
So Google used the backs of merchants to build YOUR TRUST in their shopping results only to "beef" up their value to turn around and SELL THEM to merchants. They built a product with your trust only to turn and sell it off to the highest bidder.....
"Since it is very difficult even for experts to evaluate search engines, search engine bias is particularly insidious."
—Google Founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page
I have been telling everyone that Google screwed us since they took the once free and mostly fair Google Shopping and went paid with it.... Now enter Bing who intends to expose this "evil" act and turn the shoppers who Google has screwed. While I am not a Microsoft fan, I have to say "Go Bing"! They even launched a website for this campaign...
In the beginning, Google preached, "Don't be evil"—but that changed on May 31, 2012. That's when Google Shopping announced a new initiative. Simply put, all of their shopping results are now paid ads.
In their under-the-radar announcement, Google admits they've now built "a purely commercial model" that delivers listings ranked by "bid price." Google Shopping is nothing more than a list of targeted ads that unsuspecting customers assume are search results. They call these "Product Listing Ads" a "truly great search."
To make the campaign more complete, Bing has created a video... It's pretty good too!
I have to give Microsoft some credit here, this is an excellent campaign to taint the godlike Google reputation and help to raise Bing's following with honest truths. While this may be mud slinging reminiscent of a political campaign, the mud is real!
Founders IPO Letter: "we do not accept payment for [search results] or for inclusion or more frequent updating."
Google's 2004 SEC Filing: "Our search results will be objective and we will not accept payment for inclusion or ranking in them."
Google's 2012 SEC Disclosure: "After all, ads are just more answers to users' queries."
Google Commerce announces shopping results will be paid for and exclude merchants who don't participate.
Google Commerce announces it is going international in February 2013. Countries in line to be Scroogled include UK, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Brazil, Australia and Switzerland.
I think an awareness is important here. I also think Google has too much power to put small business' out of business. I genuinely believe that Google has built a monopoly in which people, the very Americans they claim to serve, are in grave financial danger and are being spoon fed dishonesty. To further strengthen my position did you know that Google avoided paying $2 billion in taxes last year by moving money to Bermuda?
Bermuda is just such a shelter, and according to Bloomberg, Google moved $9.8 billion there in 2011 to avoid paying $2 billion worth of taxes. They continue by saying $9.8 billion was roughly “80 percent of Google’s total pretax profit in 2011.”
At a Senate antitrust committee hearing in September, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt acknowledged that Google's market share is "within that area" of being monopolistic, though he said he'd prefer to "let the judges ... actually do such a finding."
In our 10 years in this business many clients can tell you I often disliked many of the things Google has changed/done... But these same clients will tell you that ...
"they too have the right to run their business as they see fit."
However, while I agree their monopoly is less than illegal, I stand by my original platform that Google intentionally did a "bait and switch" which has brought harm, in loss of income for millions of small businesses and tricked consumers in to thinking the shopping results are honest... when they are going off to the highest bidder. Both merchants and shoppers alike we "baited" in to Google Shopping for more than a year, then when the "buzz" and participation was at its peak, Google switched the platform to paid for the merchants and now delivers shopping results to the shoppers which are NO LONGER based on relevance, quality, nor anything else consider organic. Worst of all Google's required notation that these are sponsored ads is lame at best and they even allow people to sort by relevance..... there is no relevance, only cash!
Just one more video for Bing's "Anti-Google" - Scroogled Campaign, I just couldn't resist!
PCI Compliance is a struggle for all merchants. The time, cost and knowledge needed is perhaps excessive when you factor in that no one is policing the rules. Having said that we have recently come across a really stupid pain in the ass new fail for scans from a few of the PCI scanning companies. The fail is simple.... Your Zen Cart contact form is now supposed to be protected under SSL.
So I argued this with the scanning company CSR on the phone, but the fact is, fail is fail and they are not budging.... even though they are using a GIGANTIC amount of imagination to interpret the PCI Standards. So yes it's completely asinine, it is NOT sensitive information and people using the form are not even necessarily customers who have or will checkout. In fact I suspect many are idiot spammers selling you PPC with their highly professional GMAIL business email =) .... But, even the stupid must be protected from nothing I suppose.
So, making your Zen Cart secure your contact page under SSL is a PIA.
The absolutely easiest thing to do is to secure the whole catalog front end under SSL. This is done by editing includes/configure.php and completing the following.
On lines 15 you will make the following edits.
On line 19 just verify that the value is true and not false.
Now this method while easy to accomplish has some pitfalls. Your urls will ALL change, some server's SSL config can be significantly slower and you'll have to properly secure all of your resources or face the "Broken Lock of Death". If you want to avoid these pitfalls, the task is a genuine, annoying PIA to complete.
Turning Your Contact Page to SSL the Hard Way
- First open up your admin and go to Tools >> Developers Tool Kit
- Now scroll down to the last field and enter zen_href_link(FILENAME_CONTACT_US and set it for PHP files only and Catalog only.
- This search is going to bring up all the link references for the contact us page, so we can hunt them all down and edit them like crazy people. I could just tell you where they are, but then you would miss template and override files.
For each of these instances you will change the code from
<a href="' . zen_href_link(FILENAME_CONTACT_US) . '">
<a href="' . zen_href_link(FILENAME_CONTACT_US, '', 'SSL') . '">
- No that the references are now trained to be SSL we have to change the actual form action to be SSL as well. In theory this is ALL that should be required, but the idiots at the scanning companies cannot teach their pet tool to recognize that the function itself is secured, so the page doesn't need to be.
In /public_html/includes/templates/your_template/templates/tpl_contact_us_default.php on line 17 locate the following.
<?php echo zen_draw_form('contact_us', zen_href_link(FILENAME_CONTACT_US, 'action=send')); ?>
replace it with
<?php echo zen_draw_form('contact_us', zen_href_link(FILENAME_CONTACT_US, 'action=send','SSL')); ?>
That's all, now you can rescan and have a beer, you earned it!