An ambitious new Google service will let anyone upload most anything to a publicly searchable database.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — An ambitious new Google service will let anyone upload most anything to a publicly searchable database, potentially laying the groundwork for a foray by the Internet juggernaut into classified advertising.
The venture, Google Base, could also signal grander ambitions for the king of online search-related advertising. Google’s stated mission is, after all, nothing less than organizing the world’s information.
Expected to be available today, Google Base has the potential to make instantly available a vast sea of content including — but not limited to — recipes, job listings, photos, DNA sequences, real-estate listings and individual standalone databases.
Normally, it takes Web “crawlers” days or weeks to scour the Web and feed Google’s main search engine with updated information. This tool will make locating anything that’s been uploaded nearly instantaneous, provided it finds users willing to provide the information.
Submitters will also be able to describe what they uploaded with keywords — making searches and filters more reliable.
“This is all part of our efforts to make it really easy for anyone with information to make it accessible from Google,” said Salar Kamangar, vice president of product management at Google. “We just felt like this piece was just missing before.”
What’s less clear is exactly what Google plans to do with what it amasses. The company said the primary purpose of Google Base’s release, in what’s being characterized as a “beta test,” is to study and improve how the information is collected and categorized.
Kamangar said the company eventually wants to integrate the results with results from its main search engine, its local search site, which identifies results by geographical location, and its shopping comparison service, Froogle.com.
As it stands, Google Base has no mechanism for transacting business, whether buying a car or applying for a job. But its patrons — a job-listings service, say — will be able to provide links in whatever they upload to commercial sites.
If Google goes commercial with the new service, which is widely expected, it could pose a formidable threat not only to traditional classified businesses such as newspapers but also online sites like eBay and Craigslist.
Speculation has been further fueled by a patent application for a service called Google Automat that helps would-be sellers generate advertising. The company also is known to be working on an online payment system.
And last month, Web surfers stumbled on an early version of Google Base that invited people to list things like a used car for sale and a party-planning service.
“Honestly I think there is no master plan other than ‘Let’s put this tool out there and see what people do with it,’ ” said Danny Sullivan, editor of the industry newsletter Search Engine Watch.
Data uploaded to Google Base can be transferred one item at a time or in bulk. There’s no limit on how many items users can send.
A handful of commercial and noncommercial sites have been testing the service for several weeks.
The World Resources Institute has submitted information on a 5 million-record database on sustainable development for 200 countries over a period of up to a century.
“This gives us another way to index our information and hopefully allow our users to find some connections between some issues they haven’t seen before,” said Amy Cassara, senior associate at the Washington, D.C.-based institute.
She said sending information to Google is simpler than building the site so that Google’s automated crawler captures the information.
“It puts the provider of the information in control of what kind of content the public can see,” Cassara said, adding the group is optimistic Google Base will drive more traffic to the institute’s information and site.
CareerBuilder.com also is hoping to make its data — job listings — accessible to more people, said Richard Castellini, CareerBuilder’s vice president of consumer marketing.
Other businesses offering classifieds also might find Google Base a helpful way to increase traffic, but that decision could end up haunting them if Google decides to launch tools to complete transactions, said Charlene Li, an analyst at Forrester Research.
“It’s like getting in bed with enemy,” she said.