Okay, so I understand search is politics and I have long been an advocate of the “Google is not your friend” philosophy of life, but as a professional search marketer I have not been this disgusted with the search industry in many years.
I was reviewing my DiamondsDirect.com post and noticing that Google had (manually?) corrected all of the embarassing bits I noted in that post, while avoiding acknowledging their censorship of the web via profiling (parked pages, innovative methods etc). In the past I have vocally encouraged Google’s support for creativity and the expansion of the web. But for many years I have also noted that Google’s business model leads it towards biased censorship and anti-competitive practices. It looks like we are seeing plenty of that now.
While looking at DiamondsDirect I realized it was owned by not just a domain parker but Digimedia, an innovator. And I followed a link to the new Ever project, which I also consider quite innovative. If you haven’t heard about the Ever project, it’s a new approach to user-generated content behind the ever.com domain. You can be whatever.ever.com such as bravest.seo.ever.com. Yes, that’s Squidoo on the back end. Innovation? You betcha. Spammer? Hardly, especially since Google isn’t indexing it. But innovation challenges everyone, of course that should include Google. Some great questions come to the forefront as projects like Ever.com get banned by Google. What happened to organizing the world’s information? What percentage of fresh web content will Google index? How can Google sucessfully censor the web under the guise of quality assurance?
It’s so easy to label something spam and move on. But I have news for you. Search Google for “the ever project” and you won’t find it. You’ll find a few blog mentions, and at #5 you find this SEOMoz page. Look at that page - it’s a landing page pitching the SEOMoz Premium Content membership program. Unique content? Relevant content? Worthy of Google inclusion and ranking?? Hardly… this is the content that outranks even the Ever.com FAQ page for relevance for searched on the Ever.com project (emphasis added):
Building Links with the Ever Project: ClarityChris wrote 3 days, 23 hours ago Do you recommend building keyword-rich pages on the new Ever Project off Squidoo? Are there any downsides? Thanks. Answer This question was answered (51 words) by the following members of the SEOmoz staff: rebecca If you would like to view the responses to this question or ask your own, you’ll need to sign up as a Premium Member. Premium Members can ask the SEOmoz staff questions and also have unrestricted access to our SEO knowledge base.
That’s search spam. So now that I have highlighted it, will Google remove it? Of course SEOMoz can say “we didn’t intend it to be indexed; Google decided that” and they can even now say “we’ll noindex that to improve the quality of the web” but seriously folks, are we all so stupid? Google is saying Ever.com is spam, Squidoo is spam, shopping portals with innovative user interfaces are spam, and promotional landing pages that fail to deliver on the search promise of “what is the ever project” are worthy?
Argue all you like about whether page content at the ever project/squidoo is relevant and search worthy, but you have to face the truth that the project itself is indeed search worthy for queries about the project itself. It’s user generated content - like so much else on the web. Organize it. But ban entire domains? That’s clearly censorship, and anti-competitive.
Innovation is not spam. We need innovation. We need AJAX and we need innovative user interfaces for shopping. But misleading landing pages are spam. Is this really so hard? As I noted recently I expect TheNewAntiCompetitiveGoogle to start throwing that spammer label around a lot more as they try and cover up their anti-competitive practices. But seriously folks, are we blind? Are we so stupid Google can put this past us? The more I see of this the more I hate Google, and I really, really want to love Google.
Every time you go to google.com and search, you are handing your perspective to a middleman with a vested interest in managing your access to information. Under the guise of Quality Scores, Spam Prevention, and Search Quality, Google is obviously censoring the web we see. Where will it become unreasonable? Unethical? Illegal? Where does Google draw the line, and is that acceptable to us?
Side note: Sebastian is a very smart guy. He pays attention, and works hard. He innovates. But take a look at how distracted Sebastian is by Google’s anti-competitive behavior? He’s right on the money about Google’s consideration of affiliate links and content, but because he’s correct he cannot reach a conclusion suitable for recommendation. In trying to understand Google’s business practices, I’m now leaning towards the word slimy. Hard to believe that has happened.