I read an article last week that actually came out in April that was written by a guy named Jon von Tetzchner, the founder and CEO of Opera, a pretty good browser that, unfortunately, lags behind a number of other browsers. He’d written something titled My friends at Google: it is time to return to not being evil, and it was kind of a harrowing tale of how he felt betrayed by them and how they need to go back to living their former motto (which they’ve dropped) of “Don’t Be Evil”.
I hate going out on a limb and calling Google “evil” for more than one reason… the main one being that they’re kind of thin skinned for a large organization. Yet, I’m going to go there because I’m a glutton for punishment and I’m not really calling them that. Instead, I’m intimating that they often give the appearance of being evil and that maybe changing a few things might help others perceive them better.
I’m not the first person to broach this particular subject. Just do a search (anywhere other than Google lol) and you’ll find millions of references to their being evil. Everyone’s got a gripe of some kind; me included. Most of these will be gripes I can get behind but at least one of them really isn’t an issue with me (even if I did pick on Chrome last week lol).
On the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, which was truly an evil act, here are 5 things that might help Google seem less evil:
1. Stop hiding search terms people’s websites and blogs are being found for.
If you’ve signed up for Google Analytics, which almost every marketer will tell you, you can track a lot of different things concerning your traffic such as where people are, which articles are getting a lot of visits… way too many to talk about. The one area where they’re drastically lacking is when you try to find out what keywords people are using to end up on your site.
For instance, I looked at my stats last night and over 93% of my potential keywords are locked up in what they say is “not provided”; what the heck is that? Except for the first term below, which supposedly sent 2 people here, all the rest only sent one visitor… and I’m struggling to understand why:
firefox 4 review
google not secure warning chrome (this one I understand)
how to become a faster reader
my wifes bathtub adventures
1offline marketing is necessary
top african american women social media influencers
unique jhabbits (what’s a jhabbitt?)
With all the articles people are writing about keywords and keywords phrases and all that Google holds back from us, how can we really know what’s working and what’s not?
2. If you’re slapping penalties on people, actually tell them why
Back in February I finally figured out that I’d been hit with a Panda penalty way back in 2012. I knew my traffic had declined a lot but hadn’t realized it because I never received any kind of letter or message saying it had happened.
I thought I would because a lot of other people got something. Yet, I also know that a lot of the people who got letters had no idea what they’d done wrong or how to fix it. Telling people to fix their problems and then submit a reconsideration letter is meaningless when people aren’t sure what they’ve done wrong.
If you had a marketing company that was paying people to place links all over the internet that’s one thing; if not, and all you’ve done is leave comments on a few blogs, that’s another. The problem is that 99% of the people have no idea what they might have done, and it’s because Google never tells you… because they don’t have to.
3. If you’re penalizing people because of something they’ve written, actually read the post.
Back in 2010, Google sent me a letter saying that, because of my content, they were disallowing Adsense on this blog. The problem was a post I’d written about salacious advertising that had the word “cleavage” in the title (I’ve since removed that article). The article was about how many marketers and advertising companies use pretty women dressed sexily in images and commercials to sell their products; it was kind of a rant.
The problem is that Google’s a search engine, and a lot of people were obviously looking up the word “cleavage” and finding my site. They’d get here, see the article didn’t give them what they wanted, and they’d bolt immediately, which means that article had a high bounce rate. So obviously they decided to inflict a penalty on me because of their own search engines, not the article, because if anyone had actually read it they’d have known it was legitimate. I sent them an email asking them to reconsider the article by reading it… of course they never responded. That’s pretty much how they treat almost everyone (including some major names, so I’m not alone on this one).
4. If you’re penalizing people’s videos, at least watch them.
Switching over to YouTube, within the last few months Google, who owns them, has started sending email to people telling them that some of their videos don’t meet the standards for advertising, therefore can’t be monetized by Adsense. The problem is that no one knows the process they’re using to remove the advertising because we all know they’re not watching any of the videos.
In my case, they have to be blocking some of my videos because they don’t like a word in the title. For instance, I used the word “suicide” in one of my videos they blocked, but if they’d watched it they’d have seen I was responding to a young YouTuber who was talking about wanting to commit suicide and I was talking him out of it. In another I was talking about not “taking unnecessary risks” (that was the title) but because the word “don’t” or “not” wasn’t in the title they assumed it was something it wasn’t. This one I’m going to share here because it’s short:
Was that so bad? I don’t think so, yet Google’s decided it and around 25 of my overall videos don’t qualify for monetization (truthfully I make maybe $3 a month on Adsense so it’s not a killer; but still…). I’m not griping about myself as much as other people who were living off their Google money before you totally cut them off. You built your entire platform off people, many of whom had content that was fairly edgy, and now you’ve decided they don’t deserve your money anymore; shame on you!
5. Stop pushing people around by thinking you know it all
Sometimes Google reminds me of a line from the Brady Bunch: “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” We hear how great they are from top marketers who dominate search. We hear how great they are from people making tons of money from Adsense, Adwords or YouTube. We hear about Google Maps, Google Search, Google Play… in essence everything Google. Even Chrome now owns 40% of the browser market while killing the effectiveness of other browsers (see the first link above).
Yet, when they decide they don’t like something, they slam you without warning and without a chance to defend yourself. I’ve only pointed out a few things above (there are literally hundreds of things but I don’t have that kind of time lol) that are irksome to me; other people will find way more things to gripe about (for instance, how do most of you feel about being tracked via Gmail… if you know you’re being tracked… so Google can sell your information to advertisers?) that are pretty valid if you ask me. They’ll change things up without letting us know those changes are coming (YouTube just went through another change this week and now there are things I can’t find; sigh…).
How many of you knew that Google can de-list you from their search engines for pretty much any reason they choose? They can manually penalize your blogs or websites that aren’t violating any of their guidelines and never tell you they’ve done it. They tell you things you can do to get advertisers on your site that they do on their search engine. In other words, they’re the 8,000 pound gorilla in the room and there’s literally nothing you can do about it because they’re so big they can ignore you (although they can’t ignore the European Union, which keeps suing them and winning).
Of course, you don’t have to acquiesce everything to Google if you’re not in the mood. You can put your videos on other sites. You can decide to use only Bing or Duck Duck Go (or other search engines). You can decide to try Amazon ads instead of Adsense (which I’m thinking about). You can decide to publicize and market your services in other places on social media so that you’re not dependent on their search engine (even though it sends you more traffic indirectly, you could get a greater benefit by reaching targeted users on other social media platforms).
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”; always a good rule to follow no matter what you do online or off. I’d be less inclined to think of Google as “potentially” being evil if they did a few of the things I mentioned above… maybe. 🙂