Google Base Switches To Force All Searchers Through Jump Pages

When Google Base first launched, one of my key questions was whether people could click on a entry and go directly to the submitter's web site. Yes, you could. Now, you can't. Instead, you're forced to go through a "jump" or intermediary page before proceeding, an "experiment" I hope goes away.

Jump Pages in Googlebase over at semi-Google Base rival Oodle covers more about the change, which Oodle wasted no time in having their PR firm spread the news out to various commentators. Oodle doesn't do jump pages, so it gives them a positive spin of following "traditional search engine etiquette," as the post says.

And fair enough. If you submitted to Google Base providing your own URL, you probably didn't expect the rules of how things worked to be changed in such a fundamental way despite the service being a beta.

Specifically, here are two examples to illustrate what's happened. These come from a search for cars on Google Base.

See the URL under the first one? In this case, the person submitting the item didn't provide their own URL. In that case, Google itself plays host to the listing, similar to how eBay might if you do an item for sale over there.

In the second one, the URL does NOT lead to Google Base, at least the visible URL. But click on that, and you're taken to this page at Google Base itself. If you want to proceed to the CDconnection web site, to the URL that's actually listed, you have to do a further click from the jump page that interrupts your journey.

That jump page is new. Prior to this, if you'd given Google Base an "item URL," then that is where people were sent directly.

Via InsideGoogle, Experimenting with navigation at the Google Base Blog says the change is part of an experiment and that more such changes might happen.

I hope they switch it back. At the very least, the display URL should change to show exactly where people are going. In other words, if everything is to route into Google Base, then show those jump page URLs. It's misleading, otherwise.

Even better, part of the move seems to be to allow people to see more details about an item, which can be shown on the jump pages. OK, add a "See Details" link similar to the "Report bad item" link that is shown for each item. Make than an option, but let people proceed directly if they don't choose that.

Google does say that Google Base items that flow into Google Web Search, Froogle and Google Local will NOT have jump pages (though anything you click on in Google Local already takes you to an intermediary page, like this).

Two things about that. First, as I've written before, what happens on Google Base itself is almost a non-issue. Google Base to me remains more the place people who are submitting content will be going. Actual searchers will be finding Google Base content through other services, such as the aforementioned Google Web Search, Froogle and Google Local.

It's kind of how Overture used to work to feed paid listing to Yahoo. Sure, some people stumbled into the Overture site. But the vast majority of searchers weren't encountering Overture paid listings there. They were finding them when they went to Yahoo.

So from this point of view, jump pages on Google Base aren't that big of a deal (though I still think they should go).

Second, and more important, what if Google decides it wants to do more experimenting elsewhere? Will direct URLs go away in any of these other services? The experiment at Google Base makes me nervous.

I already felt Google Base was sort of a waste of time for many people, making them resubmit and hand categorize content that Google's web crawler probably already gathered up.

Now it's possibly even worse. What happens when Google starts dealing with deciding which item to list in web search, the Google Base entry or the actual URL? Will they decide to dedupe in the "user interest" and list the Google Base entry?

If so, technically they won't have introduced jump pages in web search. Instead, they'll just have decide that it makes more sense to list Google Base-hosted pages in place of the original pages, if they have the choice.

Overall, it just makes me want to stay far away from Google Base if I've got content that's already being picked up in other ways.

Postscript: Google Revises Free Classifieds from MediaPost covers how Google Base has had a face lift, though the changes to me still do little to make the service that attractive for any particular type of vertical searching in particular. A link on the home page to Podcasts just brings up items of that nature with some slight customization. Compare that to feature-rich Yahoo Podcasts and tell me where you'll be searching.

Want to comment or discuss? Visit our Search Engine Watch Forum thread, Google Base Uses Jump Pages.

About the author

Danny Sullivan was the founder and editor of Search Engine Watch from June 1997 until November 2006.

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