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Google's New Philosophy: We're A Portal

After years of refusing the “portal” label, it seems that Google has finally had a change of mind. Google’s new attitude is evident on its Our Philosophy – Ten things we know to be true page.

As Eric Goldman points out, that page has changed:

On June 3, 2004 (per archive.org), the page said “Google may be the only company in the world whose stated goal is to have users leave its website as quickly as possible.” (emphasis added)

On September 6, 2010, that same line now reads “We may be the only people in the world who can say our goal is to have people leave our homepage as quickly as possible.” (emphasis added)

Indeed, as Google has built out its own content properties, search results more frequently point users elsewhere on Google rather than to other websites. News-related searches might lead to the Google News home page, or even to a hosted article on Google News. Local searches often lead, as Mike Blumenthal points out, to a Google Place Page, not to the business’ website. Image searches might lead to photos hosted on Google’s Picasa. Product searches might lead to Google’s product search service, etc., etc.

“Website” to “homepage” — it’s a tiny change in word choice, but it says a lot about where Google is and where it’s going.

Postscript: Google has sent us a statement disagreeing with the suggestion that the word change implies Google is a portal, and saying that the wording will be changed back as it was. A Google spokesperson says:

We periodically update copy on our corporate pages, and this was a small editing change made (about a year ago, actually) unconsciously by a proofreader — with no intention of implying a “portal” or trying to keep people on Google properties. We’re changing it back to “website,” as it should be, and hope to see those changes live within a day or so.

Postscript, Sept. 10: As promised, the wording on Google’s Our Philosophy page has been changed back to “website.”

Postscript, October 11, 2011: More than a year since this story was published, a reader has informed us that the wording on Google’s “Our Philosophy” page had reverted back to the original “homepage” language. A Google spokesperson tells us that it’s an oversight likely caused when another update was pushed live and the wording will be changed back to “website.”

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