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Google remains synonymous with search, but we all know that there’s so much more to it than that.

Most internet professionals use Google’s apps and services to help power their businesses. It’s pretty much unheard of for a website owner to be unfamiliar with Google Adwords, Gmail, Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, much less to avoid using any of these products.

The trouble is, as good as they are, there is always scope for improvement. So here are my five wishes for improvements to Google’s existing product set. Admittedly they are not the most ambitious of requests: they’re simply tweaks that I think Google can introduce quickly, perhaps with the exception of the first one…

Google Analytics - real time reporting

As a publisher, this is something we’d love to see. In Google Analytics you might think you’re seeing real time data, once you change the default ‘yesterday and before’ date to today’s date. In fact, you’re not. There is a lag in Analytics of between three and four hours.

It’s important for publishers to optimise in real time, as it is for retailers during busy shopping periods. Seeing where traffic is coming from and working to get the best out of spikes can help improve website and business performance.

We’d pay for Google Analytics Pro, were it to become available. Alternatives include using a high-end analytics platform such as Omniture’s Site Catalyst, or a low-end stats tool like Statcounter, but dammit, we want Google Analytics to be able to do this, and we want it now!

Google Webmaster Tools - multi-user management

The problem with Webmaster Tools is that it requires a single log-in. If - like me - you signed up to Webmaster Tools via your primary Gmail account then you’re in a world of password-sharing pain should you wish to share access with your sys admin / tech team / optimisation ninjas.

There are workarounds of course, but Google should allow for multi-user access, with different user types (admin / read-only) just like it does with Google Analytics. Seems easy enough.

Google Maps - stored maps for offline 

I’d like to save maps / directions for offline access. I guess I can take a snapshot of my iPhone screen, but an inbuilt ‘saved maps’ feature within the app (or web version of Maps) would be pretty useful.

Google Adsense - improved transparency

Call me old fashioned but I’d like to know exactly how much revenue I’m taking out of Adwords as a net percentage. I want to know Google’s cut. Simple.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt told Danny Sullivan that one day it may reveal this figure to publishers, but reckoned that “90% of people seem to be quite happy” with the current set-up, but “10% want much, much more information for god-knows-whatever reasons”.

I fall into that one-in-ten category. My reasons are simply that I want to know what Google’s cut is, and I would have liked to know how - and why - that has changed over time (my own earnings from Adsense have fallen dramatically since 2007).

Google News – promote more news sources

I’m convinced that Google News, like Digg, operates a whitelist, made up of tier one publishers, which are more actively promoted on the key pages.

Google News noticeably stopped promoting independent publishers on the Google News homepage and category pages sometime around September 2007. I have a vested interest, as an owner of a website that once attracted up to 100,000 daily visitors from Google News. Referrals plummeted when Google News started favouring the mainstream publishers. But - as a user - I genuinely preferred Google News when there were a variety of sources promoted across its key pages. Twitter is now, for me, a better discovery engine than the comparatively staid Google News, which tends to point me at the same old big media sources.

At the time of writing big media thoroughly dominates the listed sources on the Google News homepage, as I’m sure it will if you check it out now. Although the Google's 20,000+ news sources can all be found via keyword searching (where the results displayed are a bit more democratic), the majority of referred traffic comes from the homepage and category pages. People like to browse and click, rather than searching by keyword.

So what's on your wishlist? Leave your suggestions below...

Chris Lake

Published 14 October, 2009 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

582 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

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I own a small ecommerce business that makes and sells products. Very low overheads and being a very specific niche product, I'm lucky enough that it has been profitable from day one. I create work for three or four people depending on sales. I deliberately avoided gmail. I decided not to use Google Analytics as too much of a rear view mirror and I thought it would make me use words just because everyone else was using them instead of more accurate words of my own. I would not begin to know how to place an ad on Google. I don't know what Google Webmaster Tools are. My advice for small, niche businesses is run your business for your customers and in my experience Google will be able to take account of your website and display it in search results where relevant without you having to do anything at all for the search engine.

about 7 years ago


David Lockie

Transfer of Google Analytics profiles between Accounts!

about 7 years ago

Joe Friedlein

Joe Friedlein, Director at Browser Media

Top 5 off the top of my head:

Definitely with you on real time google analytics (and would pay for it)

More accurate keyword research data (would pay for more accuracy)

More than 25 campaigns in an adwords account (very specific I know but it can be very annoying)

Low search volume issue with adwords (again, fairly specific - see here for details)

Improved templates with Google Docs (they are working on this but it is still a bit clunky)

about 7 years ago

Adam Tudor

Adam Tudor, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at The Black Hole

Allow assignment of Advanced Segments within Google Analytics to be tied to site profiles as opposed to user accounts as they are currently.

Highly annoying - if you want to give several people with access to an account, access to the advanced segments you've setup, you have to manually create them within each user account.

about 7 years ago



When using GMAIL and have a conversation open, it would be nice if the title bar / title of the tab in your browser showed whether the conversation had been updated. For example (*) could be inserted at the beginning of the title to notify the user.

Multi-user management on Webmaster Tools is a good one.

about 7 years ago



Personally, I prefer them to concentrate more on their search.  Despite all the stuff you read, it is still possible to get above the fold on page 1 (and stay there for months) for high traffic terms using totally overt link buying, simplistic link networks, hidden anchor text, even comment spamming.

Don't believe me?  Try searching for any premium / luxury consumer brand (think designer footwear, clothing, perfume, beauty, etc) on google.co.uk.  Sometimes as much as 50% of the page 1 SERPS are websites belonging to counterfeiters who are using the sort of black hat tatics that Google claimed to have figured out about 5 years ago. 

Stuff like 10,000 links appearing within a matter of weeks for the same anchor text in the footer or side bar of totally unrelated blogs and websites.

I mean there are people who actually parrot lines like "Google doesn't take into account links in comments or forum signatures any more" when there are domains ranking highly (i.e. position 4 - 6) for single keyword brand names (and ahead of millions of other results) whose only links are in the sort of comment spam that you or I could probably write an algorithm to detect.

Don't get me wrong, I love Google and some of the cool stuff they are doing (like some of the things on this wishlist) rocks; however, it staggers me how much of an easy ride they get from the media (and by that I mean those that should know what they are talking about) in terms of their search quality. 

The emperor, if not naked, certainly has his flies down and it is about time someone told him so.

about 7 years ago

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