As a dev that does web dev and SEO stuff – and having been IN the industry since 1997, WTF is Google doing these days??? My sites in general survived pretty well with the recent Penguin 2.0 update. I didn’t really expect a whole lot of issues, but Google seems to go off in every direction at one time. Keeping up with the gods that be of search engines, no one ever really has much of an idea as to what specifically is going to be rewarded or penalized with each new Google update.
Arbitrary SERP results and directions
It continually gripes me to see a bunch of directories leading the pack in local searches. So if I search for a local “whatever”, I end up with lists of directories – Angie’s List, YellowPages, etc. So let me get this right, I’m searching for a company, but Google is going to direct me to another place to search – and THAT is best result?
A Facebook page is the best source of information?
Recently, I’ve seen some disturbing directions – Facebook pages outranking actual websites. I really need to kick back with a beer and think about this development – and how exactly Google has come to the decision that this kind of content deserves top ranking. So if I have lots of Facebook friends – I can be the best ranked whatever in a search? From MY experience, you can actually get a whole lot of people to “Like” your page – doesn’t mean that they use you by ANY means. I get at least a request per week to “like” someone’s new business page. Hell, some of these people I DON’T even like- and SURELY will never use their services, but the requests still come. And there are a lot of people who take the requests personally. Not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings, they automatically click that “Like” button – regardless of whether or not they’ve ever used, or intent to use, those services. Without doubt, a lot of people DO like someone’s business page just because they’re buddies. Unfortunately, that’s what Google seems to think belongs up there as a relevant result. And of course, directories where I can ACTUALLY search for the results I want like YP, AngiesList et al – and more paid advertising.
When Google first appeared on the surface, there was huge diversity on the search engine front. Hotbot, AOL (LOL), Inktomi, AltaVista, et al. And of course, I believe Microsoft (MSN in those days) had also dipped their toe in the pond at that point. As a long term observer of Microsoft and their ham-fisted approach to many things in software and internet, they became and stayed the “evil empire”. Their push and expected attempt at world domination doing it the Microsoft way – well, it all smacked of IBM and their attempted domination of the PC market with their MicroChannel architecture licensing slam. If you do have a good idea and can impose your will on the masses, well that is a nice place to be – until you get carried away with yourself. However, when there’s other game out there that really is NOT fond of your attempts at imposed domination… Let’s just say I was all too happy to throw my “You need to try out this great new search engine, Google!” to everyone I met. A fresh, surprising upstart that was giving good results without the arrogant Microsoft “You must drink OUR koolaid” approach.
What I’m seeing now in the world of Search Engines
Actually, my outlook on things is still the same, however, the company names have changed. I’m seeing yet another company, Google, that I once held in the highest esteem, that is getting too big for it’s britches. Dictating who lives or who dies according to their own arbitrary and ever-changing recipe. I’m seeing Google in the search engine world, I see them trying to duplicate the world of Facebook with their own Google+ and forcing everyone to drink THAT koolaid, seeing them develop their own OS (Android), seeing them delve into the world of hardware with their new Chromebook, . In short, what I’m seeing is another company trying to rule all facets of the digital world – and becoming the new ham fisted dictator in the process. Granted, if I was NOT in SEO work or working with PPC advertising, I probably would not even notice this that much, but I am and I do.
Google – History Repeats Itself?
It all seems eerily similar to the 90s when there was a company at the top of all computer food chains – Microsoft. I was a Windows Systems Admin (and budding web dev) and had to wade through pages of onerous Microsoft licensing details, work around the “That’s not a flaw, that’s a feature..” b*llshit, and just take what Microsoft dished out regardless of how cockeyed or off the mark the idea was. Remember Windows ME, more recently Vista, and IMHO, Windows 8?
At least these days, I have a choice of what OS to use. Heck, I still have machines running XP – a fine OS that does 100% of what I want even if it IS from 2001. Linux continues to rise in popularity. Interestingly enough, Linux is what I use to RUN those Windows XP machines in VirtualBox. Apple with the linux-based Mac OS is posing a very nice challenge to Windows. It still has a much smaller user base, but I often find myself contemplating going that way – “It just works” would be a nice change. All it would take is Microsoft really borking something up to create a serious shift in OS choices IMHO. In addition to the MS “my way or the highway” arrogance in the general OS / Office areas back in the 90’s, there was their entry into the Internet world on their own terms – creating a browser that was compatible with… nothing – and attempting to dictate the standards because they were Microsoft.
That is where I see Google going. Dictating standards because they can at this moment. And it will only be a matter of time before there is a pushback from users fed up with being dictated to. When we have to be paying to even appear on a search page – regardless of HOW fricking strong a website is – because we’re overshadowed by paid advertising, results chock full of directories and Facebook pages… well “You need to try out this great new search engine, Bing!”