Love, hate. Love, hate. In this column, I’m all about the love. (Next time, I’m all about the hate.) How do I love Google? Let me count the 25 ways into my heart:
1. Personalized search simply gets better and better. You’re doing a great job refining results to bring up stuff I like.
2. Web search still serves me well. Despite its faults, it’s still great. It gets me to helpful information all the time.
3. News search keeps me informed. Just like Web search, news search remains a great performer to help me find current content.
4. Froogle rocks. I’m always looking for odd, unusual products. I’ve found Froogle is a good fit for my need to ferret out deals.
5. Google Maps changed the way people think about search. After years of people asking how else search results might change, it was great to see the map metaphor take hold. It’s hard to believe it’s barely a year old. Google Maps, especially mash-ups, helped people see how information might be better displayed outside of a top 10 list. I can’t wait to see another breakthrough like this, whether by you or someone else. The maps aren’t bad, either
6. Gmail rocks. Download my email into a software client yet still have an infinite archive? I was sold. Yeah, maybe I’ll regret it in five years when the U.S. DOJ breaks into Google HQ or some rogue Google employee sniffs through all my posts. But I’m remaining optimistic. It’s certainly convenient.
7. Google Sitemaps continues to roll out cool tools. Stats? A robots.txt file checker? Stop it! If you keep doing things Webmasters want, I’ll no longer be able to mock the usual “we’re always open to new ideas” response that used to be a code phrase for “maybe when hell freezes over we might do that.”
8. Matt Cutts, Marissa Mayer, and Googlers in general are smart and dedicated. I name Matt and Marissa specifically because they are probably the two Googlers I spend the most time talking with. However, they epitomize what you’d find about Googlers in general. The love stories in the news are no exaggeration. They’re smart and dedicated and want to do big things that will help people in general. Google itself is getting bigger and more frightening in certain ways as it grows. As a counterbalance, Googlers are imbued with a spirit you can’t help but admire and appreciate. And the good news is, their competitors have employees just as inspired and smart. It makes the entire industry better.
9. You pull a Google and changing things. Gmail changed how we view email. Google Maps took mapping to a new level. I love when the company pulls out something new or puts a different twist on an old idea. Bring us more of this!
10. Google gives things away for free.Yeah, giving things away for free is also on my hate list. So I’m conflicted. About two years ago, hardly anyone had decent, fast, cheap desktop search. Google’s entry gives consumers a glut of choices. Running that new Web site and want hot analytics? Have some for free on Google. It’s a great thing for that little mom-and-pop to have.
11. AdSense helps publishers.There’s a ton of junk AdSense helps support, but it has also transformed the Web in terms of supporting good stuff. Before it arrived, many small sites largely depending on hoping an Amazon.com affiliate link would generate some income. AdSense has definitely helped more people make a living from writing quality content online and spurred others to compete to reward these publishers as well.
12. Google returned search to its glory.Maybe we’ll see the Portal Wars II cause Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL to lose focus on search in the way portals of the past did. However, I suspect not. Google’s rise proved search was a key feature that could make you billions. Along with Ask, they all know search has to remain supported. I love Google for revitalizing search in this way.
13. Google Desktop’s cache helps me find pages. Time and again, the cache has helped me find examples of pages I’ve previously visited but didn’t save, since I didn’t know at the time I might want to. Plus, it’s helped me on occasions when I’ve accidentally deleted or lost some of my own content.
14. The library scanning project is bringing books to the digital age.I think Google’s probably fine on the legal grounds of making an index of copyrighted works. We’ll see, of course. Certainly it’d have been smarter to start with the wealth of material clearly out of copyright. But ultimately, I’m glad it kick-started efforts to bring books into the digital age. The vast majority of our knowledge is locked in books, and so few of them are searchable. Google wasn’t the first to do digitize books, but it certainly accelerated it.
15. Google personifies the importance of search. I started writing about search 10 years ago because I could see it was important, not just to marketers but also to those who depend on these amazing tools. Search gained attention over the years but never quite as much as it deserved, in terms of how much we all rely on it. If I said I wrote about search engines pre-Google, people would kind of nod their heads and show some interest. Google’s emergence as the wunderkind of search has boosted our own recognition of search in our lives. It became the poster child of search, the thing everyone could identify with, everyone had used. Though I also hate that Google is sometimes given too much credited for search, I still love that it’s helped people better feel a connection with search tools.
16. It translates the Web. Google Translate wasn’t the first page translation tool, but it has continued to improve and add languages. The translations may also be far from perfect, but they can often help me understand what a page is generally about. It’s actually an amazing tool I just take for granted when I need it.
17. It saved the Internet’s early discussions. Google Groups is far from a Usenet archive these days, but I still love that Google, way back, saved the Deja archives so we can read early discussions of the Internet that happened on the Internet.
18. Google Earth is great.I don’t use the software, so how can I love it? From afar, from being able to see how many other people clearly love being able to fly over the earth and do virtual tours. If I didn’t spend so much of my day on the computer, I’m sure I’d be spending more time with Google Earth and flying the kids around with it.
19. Google Analytics offers plenty to love. I sort of covered this above, but Google Analytics is a great tool that deserves its own mention. Yep, there are other great tools out there, such as ClickTracks, but there’s plenty for a Webmaster to love — and to love for free — with Google Analytics.
20. Picasa is solid. OK, I still opt for the fee-based Adobe Photoshop Elements, but Picasa’s a solid product. I have no problem recommending it to anyone looking for a photo-organizing and -customizing tool, especially if he can’t afford to buy one. There’s plenty to love in Picasa.
21. Google’s fighting the U.S. DOJ. Sure, there’s plenty of self-interest in Google going up against the DOJ in the case involving query logs. But I’ve got no doubt that a big part of it is because the government asked for too much, and I’m glad Google’s standing up to it.
22. It’s talking more.Google has come under fire for being closed-mouthed or secretive, but I’d argue it’s talking more in various ways than ever before. There are a number of official Google blogs, and they’re not just corporate fluff. Google is at more conferences, our own and others, plus individual employees are doing a ton of talking. The popularity of Cutts’ blog has been phenomenal, for example. People are tuning in and, unofficial or not, a Google message is getting out.
23. Gmail’s conversations can be a savior. Aside from loving the Gmail archiving, I love being able to see all my related conversations on a topic automatically linked. I don’t always need this, but when I do, it’s a savior.
24. I can search my desktop. Sure, there are better, more powerful tools. Sure, I’d like to see Google Desktop evolve more. But it remains a dependable, low-impact way for me to locate material on my computer. It’s changed my work habits for the better.
25. Google’s philosophy aspires to higher things. OK, another item that’s on my hate list. Yes, I do think it needs a more realistic philosophy. However, I’m also glad it aspires to higher things and things that aren’t necessarily related to money. I want a big company to pull that off, to be successful but not successful at any price.
Next, 25 things I hate about Google.
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