Posted August 27, 2009 8:36 am by with 15 comments

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MortgageMaybe this is the sign that we all needed to really feel that the momentum in the economy has shifted? According to a suit filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina Google may be entering the mortgage quoting business. While Google itself is not part of the suit, it gets prominent mention according to the New York Times.

It appears that LendingTree, a leading online mortgage quote provider, has taken umbrage with the company, Mortech, that provides some of the power behind LendingTree’s service. As a result, Google gets to play as well.

“LendingTree recently learned that Google imminently plans to launch a loan aggregation service in late August or early September of this year that would compete with LendingTree,” the complaint says. “Lending Tree has also learned that Mortech intends to make its pricing engine services available for use with Google’s new service and will send information related to mortgage loan offers to be displayed to consumer on Google’s Web site.”

Google’s response is really like no response. Heck, unless the case is actually against you why do you need to be bothered. What they did offer in the form of a comment was

Google declined to comment on the suit or on its product plans, and provided only this statement: “We’re constantly looking for new ways to help people find what they are looking for on the Internet. As part of that effort, we are currently working on a small ad unit test that will run against a limited number of mortgage-related search queries in the U.S.”

LendingTree is claiming that they have screenshots of Google’s master plan to take over the mortgage industry. Of course, the underlying current of this kind of accusation is that Google has its hands in too many things and should not be allowed to do business anywhere because they’re Google.

This kind of crap is getting real old in my opinion. Unless there is a real product to rail against why is this even allowed in the courts? Oh and what about this little thing called competition? Every time Google pops up in a conversation about competing somewhere everybody and their sister cries foul. I say get over it. If Google truly adheres to its “Do no evil” policy then they are just another competitor, aren’t they? Sure everyone will say that they can manipulate and dominate the search queries around mortgages. Why would they do that though?

Maybe we all need to stop looking to blame Google for whatever woes there are in the world (like competition is trouble in a free market anyway) and start looking at ourselves. When people and companies truly clean up their own side of the street rather than pissing and moaning about everyone else, things tend to work better. In the end, there is nothing concrete in the claims of LendingTree yet anyway. My hope is that the court tosses the suit for lack of real evidence. Of course, I say that knowing even less than those who apparently don’t know much about Google’s plans either.

Ok, rant over. Now you anti-Googleites can let me have it with both barrels. Oh happy day.

  • It is always the same thing: when Google moves to a new product area, the old players are crying. But my experience about new Google services is, that they are of good quality and will finally increase the whole quality level of the industry. In this case, what I know based on this post, this new service fits well to Google and to internet. I am waiting this with a great enthusiasm.
    .-= Juhani Tontti´s last blog ..Reverse Mortgages!True Facts Before You Start To Cash In Your Home Equity =-.

  • Isn’t it more than just competition? Lead generation is a very lucrative business. It is basically what the entire affiliate marketing industry is built upon. If Google begins to manipulate mortgage quotes in their favor, it negatively effects competition for every other mortgage lead generation company. After that Google could easily move to insurance quotes, lawyer leads, and possibly even marketing quotes and steer searchers where they want them to go.

  • I wonder Google isn’t making enough money from their line of products like Youtube because of profit sharing schemes. They are finding totally new channel to tap for income. It will be the doom for all mortgage brokers out there if google able to get this done.

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  • If Google is going to be in the mortgage business, and if they do so by setting up a dedicated web site for that business, and if that site then shows up in the SERPs based on how well it’s optimized, and ONLY for that reason, then it’s a non-issue.

    ANYTHING else should be banned. Period. They’re a frakkin SEARCH ENGINE that is supposed to be about leveling the playing field.

    The day they started showing Local results maps of individual companies, however, they broke the level playing field rule when talking about those companies that offer aggregation services. Like Storage Facilities. There are a boat-load of web sites that have their entire business model on aggregating information on storage facilities, and Google’s local business results that show up at the top of the SERP harms those aggregation sites.

    Same would apply to any lead generating business model and already does for many, beyond what Brian already points out…

    So it’s already a muddy issue.
    .-= Alan Bleiweiss´s last blog ..Six Rules for Custom eCommerce SEO =-.

  • @Alan – While I respect your passion, I am not sure about the unleveling of the playing field when local results are shown. As an end user isn’t it better to get to an individual result rather than being pushed to an aggregator and have to search more there? For me I get frustrated when the result set is just a list of directories because I am going to a search engine to ‘flesh it out’ for me. Just my 2 cents.

    The reality is that those aggregation sites would not have much of a business model if not for the engines anyway so it’s somewhat of a Catch 22 I suppose.

    As always I reserve the right to be completely wrong!
    .-= Frank Reed´s last blog ..So Many People; So Much Time =-.

  • @Frank

    I think it’s subjective, as far as which is better. Personally, if I have to look through 50 individual listings or instead, I can go to a comparison site there are times when I want to do one and times when I want to do the other.

    Since Google is “supposed” to be the provider of unbiased information, then it should be up to the person doing the search to decide. But if Google unnaturally forces their “local business” entries along with a little map above all but the first three organic results, that skews the process.

    If I, as an end user, want to go to the Google Maps view, I will choose to do that. Blended results are bogus because they only show the first X from the maps view anyhow…

    But I do understand that at times it is more convenient.

    The bottom line however is that currently Google gets to control what shows and when. They own the search engine so they have that ability. If they are really going to be in the mortgage business, how they reach prospective customers will be a serious issue.
    .-= Alan Bleiweiss´s last blog ..Six Rules for Custom eCommerce SEO =-.

  • @Alan – Certainly worth keeping an eye on. I think it is up to people like yourself to ‘police’ whether Google is truly being ‘fair’/ While I know it may sound Polly-Annish I would hope they wouldn’t be stupid enough to get real greedy and do something to jeopardize an already incredible position in the world market. Big Blue went down though, once upon a time, right?

    Thanks for the conversation, Alan.
    .-= Frank Reed´s last blog ..So Many People; So Much Time =-.

  • @Frank

    “would hope they wouldn’t be stupid enough to get real greedy and do something to…”

    Uh, they routinely allow AdWords ads for sites that specifically, distinctly, and solely exist for the sake of providing hidden and black-hat worthy links to a plethora of insurance, legal and other sites. Just do a search for “free page counter”. Then if you choose just about any of the AdWords advertiser offerings, fill in the form for a free counter – then look at the source code that’s generated…

    When I repeatedly bring this up with Google they claim that the sites those links go to have “legitimate” optimization so those links going to them isn’t so worrisome. Excuse me, but the fact is that a “legitimate” site can be severely penalized for far less. And I have a plethora of other examples where sites use blatantly black-hat methods that Google ignores complaints about.

    SO as far as I’m concerned, Google is already in the business of doing what it frakkin well pleases, some of which is less than ethical.

    But it’s great to be able to participate in the dialogue around these topics. And ultimately, it reminds me that mine is purely one more opinion in the ocean. That in turn helps me remember it’s never too serious to become stressed about because in five years it will all be replaced by something else. 🙂
    .-= Alan Bleiweiss´s last blog ..Six Rules for Custom eCommerce SEO =-.

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  • This seems a liltle bit strange. Does Google really want to give all the services in the world?

  • Darren Champen

    I see it like this. One should not be penalized for innovation. Did Sony cry when others entered the CD and video game market? Did Ford cry when Honda entered the auto market? Well… yes. The point of my mini rant is we all are blessed with the gift of innovation. LendingTree decided to go into mortgage banking and Google did not. But Google has the foresight to capitalize on this opportunity. Hey LendingTree, you too could have went to Stanford and created Google. But you didn’t. Quit crying and develop something. Remember those days in 04 and 05 when you made a crap load of money? Well, those days are long gone. I hope LendingTree loses. Long live innovation!

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  • Scott

    Google is so large, that certainly there are anti trust issues to be INVESTIGATED (not asserting that there are, just that it needs to be looked into). The world should have learned through the current worldwide financial crisis that wealth and market rollups become dangerous at a certain point. It may not be politically correct, but, to the winner should not, time after time, go all teh spoils, as it’s bad for society.