What We Want From Google This Christmas

Dear Santa Brin,

We have been a good boy and a good girl this year. We have brushed our teeth three times daily, we have taken our Omega 3 supplements, we have written loooong articles about Google, linked repeatedly to the Google Search Blog and used your search engine daily.

So we sincerely hope you will bring us some great gifts this Xmas.

We know that even you do not have the power get us a Playstation 3, and we already have all the iPods we need, which is why we humbly send you the following wish list for Christmas:

1. Consistent navigation

We get your idea of presenting a complete online service package including search facilities, mail, a calendar a word processor etc. etc. When we log in to our Gmail account we do get access to all of them. Still, could you please introduce one consistent navigation system on all of these pages?

Make it a left hand margin or expand the list of links near the top of the screen, but do include links to all services available, or -- at least -- the ones that we have signed up for.

2. A more sensible “more…” function

Do also help those that continue to use the classic Google home page only. We understand your wish to keep the user interface as simple as possible, but you have made it too complicated to access important services like the Directory and Blog Search. Could you please include all important search facilities in the “more” pop up menu? Yahoo! does!

Nowadays when we do a regular search we can’t transfer that search to Google Blog Search. Instead we have to find the Blog Search Home page and enter the search query again. Come to think of it, why don’t you just give us an old fashioned pull down menu with all the alternatives. We are grown ups. We can handle it!

3. Make Blogger work

Please get the new Blogger beta online blogging service out of beta and make it work.

You are on the right track, helping non-HTML-savvy people adjust lay out and functions, but it is still too complicated.

We are, for instance, trying hard to help one of our friends edit his Labels text, and we have so far found no way of doing it. And yes, please make Blogger more stable.

4. Get rid of spam

There’s no doubt in our mind, you are best in class when it comes to fighting search engine spam and irrelevant results.

Nevertheless, there is still too much junk in search results.

We know that this is an arms race you will never win. The spammers will probably always spend more resources on outwitting you, than you will on beating them.

Still, it is ironic that you are contributing more to the proliferation of automatically generated nonsense pages than anyone else by allowing spammers to earn money on “scraper sites made for Google Adsense”.

Blogger is also actively used by spammers to generate useless junk. Stop them! You are clever people. We know you can do it!

5. Give us a better mashup

We want a genuinely easy to use Google Mashup! We want a Google home page where we can drag and drop RSS feeds, our Google mail box, weather forecasts, notebooks, our online image account, and any kind of widget we can think of.

You’d probably say that we can do this already, using the  Google personalization feature, and yes, it goes a long way. But it is still too complicated for our taste. We had to go to the Wikipedia to find out how to add an RSS feed.

And we want it to look sexy in the Apple kind of way. Yes, we know it is childish, but this is Christmas and we want to dress up our default home page with elegant skins!

And can you please tell us where your test search engine Searchmash fits into this picture? Will you ever include Searchmash capabilities into the Personalized home page, or is it the other way around?

6. Buy a good bookmarking service

The Google Bookmarks service doesn’t really work, does it?

Why don’t you buy one of the best bookmark services on the planet (apart from the ones owned by Yahoo! and Looksmart, that is) and let us include our bookmarks in the Google Mashup? We are sure you can find ways of using it to improve your search engine results as well.

7. Update the PageRank bar on the Google Toolbar more frequently

We know that the PageRank presented by the Google Toolbar is close to useless for search engine marketing purposes.

PageRank is after all only one of a large number of factors influencing search engine positions, and the number you give us is -- at best -- an approximation of the real figure.

Still, it appeals to the competitive streak in us and there are not that many indicators out there measuring the “importance” of a page.

Hm…. Come to think of it. Why don’t you give us an Alexa-like ranking site based on toolbar traffic and click-throughs? Christmas is all about sharing, and we would love to get access to some of that data!

8. Give us real numbers

You know, we talked about that competitive streak in us?

We would really like to know how many sites are linking to us, but your link command (link:www.pandia.com) is totally unreliable. We know, because Yahoo! sometimes reports 1000 times more links than you do, and we doubt that’s due to a larger database.

It is all right with us if you don’t want to show us all the back-links, but do display the correct number.

9. Add the NEAR operator

We love the fact that you support advanced Boolean operators, even if only a small percentage of your searchers make use of it. (It is an important and influential user group, though,)

Could you please add the NEAR operator? AOL claims that it has it, but it doesn’t seem to work properly anymore.

10. Spend millions on click fraud research

We are not saying this as Adwords advertisers, as we do not spend much on text ads anyway. However, your income is based on text ads, and the legitimacy of that revenue model is based advertisers trusting your ability to stop fraudsters in this area. Please do not let click fraud undermine your ability to deliver a good search engine.

11. Give us a well functioning Gdrive

We are very grateful for your generous Gmail accounts, which are well suited to storage hungry power users like ourselves.

For Christmas this year we want a Platypus Gdrive, an area on your servers where we can store any kind of file from any computer in the whole world. Heck, we are even willing to pay for it (but do not quote us on that).

12. Make Writely stable

We are actually writing this article in Google Docs, or Writely as it was called before. We use it because we can cut and paste the HTML code directly into our WordPress blog software, links and all. (If you have ever tried to do that using Word, you know what a relief this is).

However, we have lost text using Google Docs, at least when using our Macs, and we would rather not see that happen again.

(Hm. It seems you have changed the way Google Docs generates code. This time there was much more work cleaning up the HTML).

13. Continue to help webmasters

Thank you for one of this year’s most welcome presents, Google Webmaster Central!

We are glad you put so much effort into helping webmasters as well as search engine marketers, and we appreciate the fact that you try to communicate clearly what you consider unhelpful behavior search engine optimization wise.

Still, there remains some work to be done as regards transparency in this area, especially as regards the underlying logic about what is kosher (white hat) and what is not. Some clearer re-inclusion procedures for repenting sinners may also be helpful.

14. Get out of China

We know we are talking about 1 billion potential customers here and that you desperately need to establish your brand in largest market in the world. Still, it makes no sense for the “Do No Evil” company Google to give in to the Chinese dictatorship, censoring search results for them.

The free flow of information will ultimately undermine the present regime. Stand up to the Chinese authorities or get out!

15. Continue working on Google Books

Your book search may be the beginning of something wonderful -- the ability to search the text of most books available in one place.

The fact that some people don’t get it should not stop you from continue working in this area.

However, maybe you should communicate more clearly that you respect the intellectual property rights of the authors, and that you will not give searchers access to the whole text unless the copyright owners agree to this or they are compensated financially.

You see, the fact that you -- for instance -- published photos in Google News Norway without the permission of the owners does not generate trust. On the other hand, we and all other sensible webmasters will support you in you fight for the right to quote from, and link to, news site articles.

Note: This is an archived version of previously published article " What we want from Google this Christmas", published by Per and Susanne Koch.