Google, The Evil Empire (Insight From a Fellow Internet Marketer)
I stumbled upon an incredibly insightful post that forces us internet marketers to look through a different perspective on Google’s role in business. Sean Kaye is a member of the Bring The Fresh forums, a premium forum that I am a part of. There’s lots of great stuff in there, and this post was a particularly memorable one. Here it is in its full glory:
I don’t do conspiracy theories and I don’t believe “the man” is out to enslave us…
Traditional White Hat SEO is a road that ultimately leads to the commercial side of the internet being dominated by the big brands who dominate the retail sector and very little else.
My ability to produce content, good, bad or indifferent quality is limited when compared to say, Proctor and Gamble. That company that owns Proactiv can hire Katy Perry and Justin Bieber. The average online marketer couldn’t afford to hire Justin Perry and Katy Bieber.
Press releases are great, but am I meant to compete with the communications division of Wal-Mart? They could produce press releases day in an day out.
Videos – for sure. Just like Old Spice. Oh wait, how big was their marketing budget again?
The internet is an open platform, it allows anyone to publish anything – the problem with the internet is indexation and finding stuff in such an explosive growth environment. Google put itself successfully into that space. Then they monetized that indexation of our content fantastically well. Good for them.
The problem is, as it is with most companies, that wasn’t enough for them. They made their money making sense of the chaos, they now want to get rid of the openness and lock you into a “google.com” platform of YouTube, Gmail and AdWords. Your privacy and right to choose be damned, it isn’t in Google’s interests.
As I’ve said elsewhere, I didn’t ask Google to index my sites, scrap my content and put it in their SERPs plastered next to ads that they make money from and give me none. In exchange for making money from my content, they indirectly send traffic. For some reason they think that’s meant that I’ve agreed to their TOS – there isn’t a lawyer or court in the world that would say you’ve agreed to something like that without actually being presented with it before agreeing to it, which is effectively what happens with Google.
Then again, I can put load up my robots file with NOINDEX tags, but of course that’s only a “request” and Google being who they are can do whatever they hell the want. Steal my content? Why not, they rip off every major newspaper in the world and virtually crushed the industry, who am I?
I don’t have the answer, but I will say that I dislike the game that’s being played. Google sets the rules, breaks the rules (Chrome team buying links all over the place, Google allowing BIG advertisers to use bridge pages, etc) and then selectively applies their rules, much of the time retrospectively. It just doesn’t seem fair… Pffft, nevermind seem, it ISN’T fair.
But I also didn’t think that Dan Thies, someone who, like Kelly, I had some respect for, carried himself in a particularly positive way. His little lovefest of tweets with Matt Cutts sickened me. Dan Thies has made a career of SEO and not all of it white hat. To then congratulate Google on smashing BMR made me want to puke. That was someone’s business, they paid money to build it, people were employed by them and now those people don’t have jobs. That small business is gone. And Dan Thies congratulated Google. The irony is, Google wants to put Dan Thies out of business too because THEY HATE SEO because it exposes flaws in their perfection. I bet you Dan’s tweets with Cutts aren’t part of the marketing for the next version of Link Liberation.
BMR, SEO Nitro and non of those people broke a law. Not one. Yet Google went out and effectively destroyed their property. You can argue until you’re blue in the face that Google owns its index and they can do what they like, but when you use your size and reach in a market to selectively destroy or cripple other companies, you’re a monopolist. Google have become worse than the thing that they always said they hated, Microsoft. Even at it’s height Microsoft never went out of their way to destroy other people’s things – they were ridiculously competitive and used a bunch of nasty tricks, but they never went out and destroyed other people’s stuff.
Google have crossed a line now. They have gone from builders to destroyers. Largely up to this point they’ve focused on improving their algorithm, making a better mouse trap. That was what got them there in the first place. they built a better mouse trap. Now, they’ve decided that it is easier to “enhance” their results by destroying other people’s work. Imagine sitting in an exam and to improve your qualifying position rather than study, you just tore up everyone else’s test paper.
The other thing is, companies who behave like, or any dictator for that matter are always on the decline. When you’re in your ascent, you’re gaining popularity and followers through what you’re doing or because your competitors are failing to deliver results. This is in many respects a parallel to what we see in countries where people rebel and the dictator sends out the military to “enforce peace”. Why not introduce better policies and do a better job governing? It’s easier when you’re that big to just shoot the protesters.
What we have to remember is, and those of us who’ve been around technology, never mind the internet for awhile will remember this thing is cyclical. IBM dominated with it’s mainframes and behaved in a shocking way to competitors and customers – utter contempt. The US Government went after them as a monopoly.
Novell took the desktop PC revolution to the next level and introduced network services software for offices (NetWare for those of you old enough to remember it). Novell at one point had a 90% market share in office networks back in the early 90′s. People like me had no choice but to learn how their product worked. They treated us like garbage, made us pay for their product to train on, sold us $300 books, invited “Premier” partners (read kick backs) to pre-launch events. Then Microsoft came along with NT 3.51 and people like me abandoned Novell at a rate unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I made more money in the early-mid 90′s ripping out Novell networks and replacing them with Microsoft – make these IM launches look like peanuts. Novell didn’t adapt to Microsoft and the internet, well that was just stupid – TCP/IP was inferior to IPX (Novell’s proprietary protocol).
The successful steward at Novell when they gave up the ghost, a chap named Eric Schmidt. Might know him from Google.
Microsoft copped it a few years later. The government just cracked down on them, but they also just lost their way. They thought they could control the market and innovation and ring fence their customers. Unfortunately a couple of guys from Stanford got the jump on them in search and Apple introduced this stupid music player that didn’t seem to make sense called the iPod.
Microsoft went from being the 800lbs gorilla of EVERYTHING tech to an also ran in under five years. They still haven’t got their mojo back.
Now we have Google and their climb has been unbelievable, but they are showing all the same signs that Microsoft was showing in 2003/2004. Building a fence around their customers to keep out their competition who have better products (Facebook, Skype, Paypal, etc). Cajoling, forcing and downright manipulating customers into giving them information customers don’t want to share and forcing them to use apps they don’t want or need (Hello Microsoft’s OneNote). Creating second rate “me too” products and copying their smaller competitors. And just losing focus on what they do best and making crappy products nobody wants (Windows Vista and Google Wave/Plus).
Personally, I’m just biding my time watching what happens. If Google forces everyone into negative SEO, that will be sad because then we’re all destroying stuff. On the other hand, I read about an experiment some black hat guys are doing where they’re targeting a niche, building a totally white hat site and then they’re going to link bomb all of the top ten sites to knock them off. Not a good state of affairs.
Google, The Evil Empire (Insight From a Fellow Internet Marketer),