Software Marketing Resource Articles: What is Google Base?

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

What is Google Base?

In order for Google Base to succeed, it will need the support of both publishers and users. Quite frankly, most are having difficulty seeing the value in Google Base. Google Base, is a new service in beta, from Google that requests that publishers add their information to the "Google Base". Google Base is hosted by Google. All types of item submissions are accepted online and off-line information in a variety of formats. Google Base uses tagging similar to that found in many social-bookmarking applications, though Google refers to it as labels. The labels are used by Google to categorize or add attributes to the information, that better describes the content. The more popular specific attributes become, the more often Google will suggest them when others post the same or similar items. Additionally, items that become more popular will show up as suggested item types in the "Choose an Existing Item Type" drop down menu.

Based on the relevance of the submitted items, they may also be included in the main Google search index, and other Google products such as Froogle and Local Google Search.

Because the individual submitting the content can define the content using labels, the system is left open to rampant spam. While there does appear to be a "checks and balances" in place with each listing showing a "report a bad link" button, that allow searches to report and indicate that content has been improperly tagged, contains adult content, or is otherwise inappropriate content. It is unclear whether Google will create a hierarchy of web surfers. DMOZ and many Wiki systems, create a leadership structure of users to minimize spam, but the fact remains that both systems are prone to abuses. It is unclear whether Google will implement a similar system.

Google Base is currently available only in English. Web surfers can experiment with Google Base and browse through existing items at any time. However, to submit items, a Google Account must be created. Google Base will currently accept bulk uploads in CSV, RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0 and Atom 0.3 formats.

Content providers who already have RSS feeds can easily submit their content to Google Base without requiring a lot of additional work. Unfortunately at this time, each Google Account only allows for 10 feeds to be submitted to Google Base. Many content publishers have merged content topics and multiple RSS feeds into a single RSS feed. This is inefficient and may ultimately hurt the structure of Google Base, as each RSS feed may contain items that are unrelated.

One nice feature of Google Base has is a geo-targeting search feature that produces results for a very specific region. However at this time many submission do not include a product location so the geo-targeting feature, while a nice addition, will need some refinement as well.

Google Base currently produces far less relevant searches than a vertical search engine. Why Google is relying on tagging (labels) rather than the contextual spidering makes little sense. And why Google has taken the step of content hosting is unclear. Search Engines historically devalue duplicate content, the Google hosting may provide a unique twist to the duplicate content debates.

While Google Base is still in beta, it is clear that it needs to be polished. In order to garner the support from publishers and users Google articulating the purpose and intent of Google Base might help in gaining support.
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