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Google Gains Access to Web Hosting Financial Records

Google would love to assign a credit bureau account to every web site on the web. A social security number. It seems Google is now accessing the financial transaction records of web hosting companies.

You’ve properly obfusctated your public WHOIS data. You’ve carefully managed your public contact information, including your Google account(s) like your AdSense account, your sitemaps account, and your gmail account. You keep your Google-known web sites up on a pedestal, to have them appear as worthy as possible of the GoogleTrust. And those other sites? You know, the test sites, and spammy sites you bought but haven’t yet had time to cleanup, and those 6 year old link farms that were ok back then but have since become “black hat”? How could you possibly turn off that wonderful perseverant PR? Those awesome legacy affiliate codes that outrank even their parent affiliate sites? So, you’ve kept them under the radar.

Unique IPs on separate blocks. Different data centers. But how did you pay for the hosting? Did you use your credit card, assuming the financial transaction data was strictly between you and the hosting company, none of Google’s business?

Well Google checkout changes all that. Google checkout, used for web hosting, hands over all that financial transaction data to Google. And hosting companies like Dreamhost are requiring customers to use Google checkout. Others offer it as an option, but Dreamhost offers only Check or Money Order or Google Checkout under a set of conditions said to be for “fraud prevention” but apparently for profit reasons - Google checkout is free through the end of the year.

I hear you thinking a few things:

1. Any idiot who uses Google checkout for hosting deserves the associated privacy invasion.

2. Any hosting company that requires webmasters to use Google checkout is stupid, and should lose the business anyway.

3. Dreamhost says it only requires Google checkout under certain, undisclosed conditions related to fraud prevention.

4. Who cares? No one should ever use Dreamhost anyway.

Allow me to address these in turn:

1. Any idiot who uses Google checkout for hosting deserves the associated privacy invasion: Yes, I agree. But what if you have been with Dreamhost, and renewal comes up, and you find you can only renew with Google Checkout? Dreamhost will lock the account until you pay, so you lose access to your files, stats, etc. I am quite sure many webmasters fall into this trap, and are faced with “Tell Google who’s paying for this web site, or lose everything”

2. Any hosting company that requires webmasters to use Google checkout is stupid, and should lose the business anyway. I totally agree, which is why I am amazed at this. They need or want the extra 3% so bad they risk such a webmaster-unfriendly reputation?

3. Dreamhost says it only requires Google checkout under certain, undisclosed conditions related to fraud prevention. Yes, I have seen those tech support comments. Onces that say it only happens for certain credit card codes, country codes, etc. Well, if an address in Washington State trips their fraud protection system (before any credit card has been entered) then that’s a bogus excuse. There are many other reports of a similar nature out there. We’re all being thrown to the “Google Checkout only” condition for some other reason.

4. Who cares? No one should ever use Dreamhost anyway. Actually, Dreamhost is good for small-time junk and kids stuff. Like this case that triggered my post - my pre-teen son’s development work. Dreamhost is not very reliable, but cheap and fast, and they implement many features better than other cheap web hosts. And client cases like, 25 domains wrestled away from an extortionist former employee, which need to be parked asap under SEO consultant control? Can’t beat a $8/month Dreamhost account for that.

The point isn’t Dreamhost… the point is so many web masters identifying themselves by credit account to Google. That’s trouble with a capital T as Google tastes the blood of web hosting financial data. What would it take to incentivise web hosts to “prefer” Google checkout? Not much, apparently.

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One Response to “Google Gains Access to Web Hosting Financial Records”

  1. Lea de Groot Says:

    Umm, dude, you only have the one credit card? ;)
    Heck, as a fall back I can phone the husband and get his numbers off him!

    Care to recommend some providers?

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