Google AutoLinks - Is Google becoming "evil"

“Google, You have no right to modify my content”

As an online publisher and content provider the AutoLink feature in the new version of the Google toolbar is something that I take serious and direct issue with.

You may recall that MicroSoft tried a similar concept with SmartTags and other companies have released other similar plugins that have come to collectively been called Scumware, Spyware, Adware or Malware.

Gary Price of SearchEngeWatch wrote:

With “AutoLink” enabled, web pages will be “enhanced” with additional links if Google thinks additional information might be helpful. For example, say your browsing a web page with numerous addresses on it. AutoLink will turn each of those addresses into direct links to the Google Maps database.

I don’t want Google, or any other company for that matter, “enhancing” or otherwise modifying the page design, links or content of our pages or other intellectual property without permission and/or compensation to us.

Let’s imagine that I sell books online and I list the ISBN number on the pages. AutoLink modifies the ISBN numbers that I list on my ecommerce pages and inserts a link to that books page in Amazon, my competitor… Not Good.

I am sure that this “Feature” has massive commercial appeal and potential for Google. How long will it be before Google starts offering paid partnerships to certain parters to link their data directly from your pages to theirs.

What happens if Google doesn’t stop with ISBN, Package tracking Numbers and VIN Numbers. What happens when Google starts commercializing this service and selling keyword links like all the other scumware providers?

Google may claim this is useful and they will do no evil. How can we be sure? Google is a for-profit and publically traded company that will be under increasing pressure from investors to pay divedends.

How much longer before we just let the web browser rewrite all our websites and pages.

There is much to consider.


Is Google doing this through the toolbar?

Yes, through the new toolbar that’s currently in beta

New! AutoLink
The online review of a great new restaurant has the place’s address but no map. You could type the restaurant’s street, city, and ZIP code into the search box, but why bother, when clicking the Toolbar’s AutoLink button will automatically create a link to an online map (US addresses only)? AutoLink can also link package tracking numbers to delivery status, VIN numbers (US) to vehicle history, and publication ISBN numbers to listings.

Wow… I really don’t like that. Especially the one about A lot of small websites rely on affiliate income. If they can just take it away from you… That seems really unfair/unethical.

obviously, they should give webmasters a way to turn this off.


I really find it disturbing that google would do such a thing; it is truly invasive and disrespectful

I think that it is likely that Google will eventually be able to allow webmasters to turn this feature off. I mean think about it. Even if you could turn that feature off a very small fractional percentage of sites would do so. Leaving lots of room for Google still to make money without pissing webmasters off.

The problem will come when those scumware apps that piggy back onto programs like Kazaa decide to integrate that feature into people’s browsers without telling webmasters how to turn it off. Thats when things are going to become bad IMO.

Looking to the future things like this will only become more prominent, which is why its important that you diversify your income.

I’m generally not a doom and gloomer but I really don’t like this at all. The Google Toolbar is incredibly popular and I just dont want them driving traffic away from my sites with that junk.

It’s really quite surprising because I would think it would hurt the AdWords/AdSense program by creating another avenue for traffic to leave websites.

Perhaps traffic to Google sites is worth more than their cut of AdSense. I’d like to doubt that though.


The Google toolbar is popular with webmasters, but a regular surfer has no clue what the Google toolbar is and does not care. So maybe this is not a big deal.

Oh my god! I can’t believe they are hyperlinking words on webpages when people use their FREE toolbar! I demand satisfaction! And those bstards are letting users choose to use it or not. I think I’m going blind from the evil my eyes have seen. Another company tries to make money with their free tools. When will the madness stop! The next thing you know they’ll be paying webmasters to put text ads on their site too! Or worse, selling ads on their search results, GASP!

This is not good.

Okay, now do that again from the webmasters point of view…

Or did you miss the point all together?

This is an absolute terrible idea for Google. Heads should roll at Google for whoever decided to add this feature into the toolbar. Google is partnered with so many hundreds of thousands of websites, it’s like Google is stabbing us in the back.

Eventually just doesn’t cut it. Google needs to make this optional to webmasters as soon as it is available, or the product should not launch. Otherwise, we would need to hope that all the people who downloaded the first version of the toolbar download the upgrade which makes it optional for webmasters.

It should also be extremely easy to make optional, like a single statement in robots.txt which would turn the feature off for the entire site.

Optional or not, I really do not like this feature of Google. Making it optional would still be too easy for Google to change in the future. It just shouldn’t happen.

It would be fine if Google would keep their links within their toolbar application. I think there would be no problem with Google making some money with their free application that way.

As soon as Google’s own links appear on our pages without compensating us, they are no longer simply making money with their free toolbar, they are making money on our backs.

If Google goes through with this I believe it will amount to theft of advertising services.

I hope that all the anti-scumware companies add Google’s toolbar to their uninstallation methods before the new version comes out.

Who uses toolbars?

My outlook is that I got my FireFox, my website is designed for FireFox, if you think you need a toolbar for ANYTHING, you can shop elsewhere.