Jill Whalen recently commented here that I was coming across as “anti-Google”. She used the word propaganda to describe the way I reported on the combination of Matt Cutt’s assignment of the spam label to sponsored links, and Google buying DoubleClick. That surprised me, but it also caused me to self-reflect: has johnon.com become anti-Google?
Nah. johnon.com has always been anti-Google. But this blog is also anti for most any abuse of power or authority. Google is just the current search monopoly. It’s nothing personal. As a tech consultant to small and medium sized businesses competing online, I have always been an advocate for the “little guy”.
As an SEO and especially an open-source-advocating SEO located in the Seattle area (Microsoft’s back yard), I am used to playing David to the Goliaths. As a technology consultant, I worked with independent software vendors who coded for the Microsoft platform, and watched as the monopoly expertly cut them off from their own markets, assumed control of their business channels, and then rather swiftly eliminated them from the gene pool. All that while playing the role of “partner”. Quick: name an independent software vendor in the accounting space on the Windows platform. Did you say Intuit? Did you say….. oh, never mind. Fact is, 10 or so years ago there were hundreds of small ISVs providing payroll functions, specialized accounting and reporting functions, tools and systems supporting small to medium sized businesses. Why are they all gone today? Don’t guess… ask them to tell you.
Nowadays Google has the monopoly on search, and search drives most of today’s traffic. And Google owns the big paid placement engine AdWords. And Google owns the distribution channel for that (AdSense). And Google is buying up the “raw materials” for the industry (analytics, checkout, DoubleClick, web master registration). This is no surprise. It’s the same thing Pirelli Tire did when it bought the rights to most of the latex-producing land in the world as a means of locking down the supply channel. Just as Corning tries to do in glass, biomedical device companies did with specialized DuPont plastics, Becton-Dickinson did with the hospital supply chain, Merck does with certain key chemicals used to manufacture generic drugs, and most strong companies do with their own industries. It’s called business. Such behavior is practically traditional for business. But that doesn’t mean it’s good.
The Internet has been unique in that small players could actually compete in markets, despite the positions and efforts of big monopolies. So far, anyway. As Google locks down search, Google becomes an attractive competitive tool to be wielded against competitors. As Google changes to become a BigMonster, it is much more likely to align with other BigMonsters than smaller, more innovative and less “monstery” companies. The Tool that is Google may become available to an exclusive club of large players. I don’t like that idea. Especially when the power Google has comes from the smaller players, who give it to Google. I think that is the definition of authority, right? It’s granted? It authorizes the use of power?
By the way I searched Yahoo! for a local service provider yesterday, and got a FULL PAGE of Yahoo directory results as a SERP. Every entry was a variant of the yahoo directory. No other options except ads. That is sad, but undeniable. Google is search today.
Is Johnon.com Anti-Google? Only when necessary, and only with the hopes of helping Google’s human employees to understand the basis of their authority, and the responsibilites that come with the power. Is Johnon.com Propaganda? Nah. If I seem to “spin” the words away from their true meaning, then I suggest that is a product of perspective, and the words from Google should be clearer to eliminate bias in interpretation. If Google didn’t have monopoly power, I wouldn’t care so much. But because Google has so much power, the words need to be clearer. Did I highlight that?