Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Google Nightmare

Jeremy! Oh no it's happening ..... to .... me .....

I had a talk a few weeks ago at WebmasterWorld Las Vegas with the most excellent Mr. Jeremy Zawodny. We were concerned about the way people are starting to change their writing styles and subjects to comply with search engine preferences.

Today I noticed this happening to me as I was about to NOT POST this note critical of Google. I almost thought "hey, I'm beeing too hard on Google. They are a suberb company and the most excellent Mr. Matt Cutts, Google's new uber blogmeister and global search guru, could not be a better spokesperson for the company as well as being a really great fellow.

Matt was also at Webmasterworld Las Vegas where he went out of his way to answer complex questions and treat everybody with great respect. I've talked with him at some length and Google should be simply thrilled to have him out and about making friends and keeping Google tops on the "coolest company/coolest people" list for many technology watchers.

BUT, greatness brings great responsibility, and here is where I think Google is falling short right now big time. So with apologies to the most excellent Googlers I've met I offer this in the spirit of constructive criticism:

My great fear about Google:

First, massive spam onslaughts cause Google to accept huge amounts of collateral damage for legitimate sites.

THEN, Google's market share insulates them from the needs of the web community and makes them immune to criticism.

THEN, Google fails in their OBLIGATION as a MARKET LEADER to provide basic and thorough support for sites they have delisted or downranked.

THEN, People accept all this and fail to rant against it because people are sheep, sucking up to Google and thinking stupidly that search rather than content is what the web is all about.

THEN, even otherwise intelligent people often argue, in dumbfounded ignorance of historical precedent, that Google has no obligation to the community to work hard to identify the damage it has caused and to effectively deal with the problems it's dominance has created.

Wait - this is not a nightmare - it's happening RIGHT NOW!

Yes, Google has a new program to communicate with damaged sites but it's weak and small. The support system does not provide access to problem solvers, rather to canned info.

JoeDuck's Blog


Blogger Adam Lasnik said...

I actually agree with some of what you've written in spirit. But I've also witnessed firsthand that Google isn't exactly retaliatory. For that matter, I must also praise Yahoo and Microsoft (the other part of GYM); they seem to welcome criticisms and in fact often appreciate, even embrace them.

I've praised Google a lot on my own blog, but I've also written some extremely harsh commentary about Google on my blog, on Googlers' blogs, and even directly to some Googlers.

In each case, my criticisms have been acknowledged and thanked or -- at worst -- ignored. I continue to rank decently in Google, and continue to earn AdSense cash and I haven't found my pet rabbits stewed or anything like that, either :D

* * *

With that said, your comments about Google needing to be responsive to the online community (Webmaster and otherwise) in a broader and deeper way are well-founded. They need to clone Matt and/or find (and EMPOWER!) others with a similar combination of amiability, patience, humor, and general communication skills. In particular, I think enabling comments on some of their blogs (like Microsoft and Yahoo do, for instance!) would be a good start... but without a company-wide commitment to monitor and participate in *conversations*... the open commenting would be more of a detriment than an asset.

No easy answers. I also feel for Google on this. Given Google's status as the 'big kahuna' I know that any attempts to open a broader dialog will also be met by really loud shouts, off-topic rants, and screaming demands for personal assistance (ah, human nature!)

But the alternative -- remaining largely secretive and closed -- is not a valid long-term option. It's not evil... it just doesn't do justice to the kind of culture and trust that Google wants to foster externally.

Thursday, December 15, 2005 4:14:00 PM  
Blogger JadedTLC said...

"...thinking stupidly that search rather than content is what the web is all about"

I've found this to be true of even my own writing, my own sites. I keep thinking, is this good SEO, is this site different? But the problem with them saying (unique content) is that competition is better with two similar content providers than forcing the one that does better SEO to the top. Let the users decide Coke or Pepsi, not the Google. Sounds like Google's foreseeing a way to get Coke to put money in their pockets in the future by ensuring Coke gets great SERPs organically.

I'm thinking Google is turning evil -- Google is the Anakin Skywalker of Episode 3, and has one last chance to redeem itself, will it heed Obi Wan's call "But you were the chosen one?"

Or will Google enable Bill Gates to push MSN Search to the forefront in a very squeaky clean manner?

Thursday, December 15, 2005 4:26:00 PM  
Blogger JoeDuck said...

Excellent thoughts Adam. You've also stated things more diplomatically than I did.

Glad to hear your rabbits are still doing OK, though I'm a little worried about ... Jeremy Z's pets.. especially the Lemurs.

Thursday, December 15, 2005 4:29:00 PM  
Blogger JoeDuck said...

> push MSN Search to the forefront

jadedtic - also good points and I think this "self editing" is getting to be a major challenge for everybody, stifling creativity in the interest of ... cash.

I think Google best serves it's OWN long term interests by making sure it helps the community, especially the mom and pop sites that suffer from mistaken ideas about search rules and regulations.

Thursday, December 15, 2005 6:12:00 PM  

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