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Google Releases New Related Links Feature

Google Labs has just released a new feature called Google Related Links which allows webmasters to place a little tabbed user-interface navigation box on their site. The box will pull in links to sites related to the content on your webpage, allowing you to display related links to Searches, News, and Web Pages.

I’ve copied a screengrab below so that you can see how the real thing looks:

Google Related Links

Perhaps this is a useful feature for some, but I’m thinking that most web editors prefer to choose their own related links and are better able to choose appropriate ones than this automated option.

So, are there other incentives to adding the code?

Their FAQ states that they do not pay publishers for adding the feature “at this time”. This would seem to hint that they’re considering paying for the referral traffic, which I think that most publishers would agree that they should.

A question: will Google bias the links supplied by this application towards searches which have better pay-for-performance ad revenue for themselves?

There’s something just a hair insidious seeming about this as well, however. On the PR face of it, Google represents that they want to help people out, make life easier, and enable people to find what they want to find on the web. But, Google is integrating itself more and more deeply into people’s websites, increasing dependency upon them. They provide search services for sites already, they’ve launched applications to allow people to design webpages through them, and they’re providing people with free web usage reporting and maps.

If there’s one thing that people have learned within the IT disaster recovery industry, placing too much dependency upon a single entity will create a single point of failure in a system. Admittedly, Google has nice infrastructure, but have you ever seen a company yet that never had a technical failure of some sort? What happens as increasing amounts of the internet itself is supported by Google, rather than by distributed systems?

In any case, it will be interesting to watch how many sites adopt this new feature without monetary incentives to do so.

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