I know this will come as a shock to many of you, but I’ve accepted a position working for Google effective September 1, 2008. After 5 years of full time independence as a Competitive Webmaster and SEO Consultant, and after building out hundreds of web sites for my own publishing network and a collection of trusted clients, I’ll be signing on with The Google. It has been tremendously exciting, fun, and beneficial to have functioned independently during this past 5 years of amazing change in Internet Land. But I can’t fool myself any longer. Google is winning, Google will win, and if I want to win, my best opportunities are with Google. Plain and simple.
What does this mean for my clients? Well, you really need to read all the way through to the end of this post. What does this mean for my trusted SEO friends, with whom I have entrusted secrets and who have trusted me with secrets? Again, please read all the way through. What does this mean for the good people at Google? Perhaps that is the most interesting aspect of my going to work for Google.
Effective September 1, Google will gain access to virtually all of my business intelligence. I am pretty sure the meetings are already set up to discuss the details of my site networks, especially the ones I have operated in very competitive markets. Once I am on board at Google, Google employees will have the rights to access just about everything interesting about my businesses.
I have already been informed, via the legal terms and paperwork I had to execute just to investigate the opportunity, that Google will be inspecting my domains, my traffic logs, and everything else webbish about my web sites. But Google will also get a list of my collaborating partners, my advertisers, and my contracts with those advertisers. Google will inspect the rates I charge advertisers to place ads in my networks, and Google will take the names, addresses, and contact information for those advertisers (presumably so they can direct sell to them).
Google wants to know the rates I charge for CPM ads and the rates I charge for CPA deals. They want to know the terms, and they also want to inspect the activity logs of my ad serving system, down to the times of day I run ads, what I charge to run ads in different slots and at different times, and what my customers pay for their preferred placements. I have to say that while we explored this opportunity to work together, Google seemed excessively interested in the inner details of my business costs and profits. They even made an effort to quantify the amount of time I spend managing my ad serving systems, how often my clients change their ads, and how much flexibility I offer my advertisers.
Google also wants me to install Google Analytics on my sites, presumably to make it easier for them to know everything about my business as if all of the above wasn’t enough.
Since my agreement with Google permits me to continue operating my web sites provided I agree to some restrictions (no pornography, stuff like that I don’t object to anyway), they also asked me to allow them to insert their AdWords advertisers into the bidding system for my direct ad placements. They say their advertisers will compete fairly and they aren’t looking for preferred placement. I actually didn’t care too much about that, because honestly when you think about how they are going to know everything about my business anyway, what difference could it make for me? Like I said, Google’s kicking ass and I would be foolish to think they would do anything less than aggressively consume every last ounce of business intelligence they can get from me and my web businesses. How else did they get to be the winners? How else could they continue to dominate?
The terms of my joining Google are still privileged, so this is probably all I can state right now about it. I don’t have a Ph.D. (I dropped out after completing everything but the dissertation research), and even though I rock at answering Fermi questions, I wasn’t able to solve one of the puzzles Google uses to screen for brilliance. Not everyone will be happy to see me sign on. Until I post this, even Matt Cutts doesn’t know I will be joining Google. That should be fun.
Perhaps the biggest shock to everyone will be just how little Google had to offer me to get me to take this position. I’m basically doing it for peanuts. Oh sure I’ll make some coin but mostly I’m doing it for the… well… actually I don’t know if I can identify any truly good reason for joining Google like this. I live in Seattle so I don’t get the Mountain View Celebrity Chef or the free charter bus service with wifi. But I won’t have to manage my own ad serving network any more, which was a minor inconvenience. And if I adopt Google Analytics, well, I get the pretty reports without having to load up ClickTracks. Hmm… well, anyway. Best not to think too much, eh?
Now about that “what does this mean for my clients” and “what does this mean for my SEO friends” I promised for the end. No worries, folks. I’m not taking a job with Google. I’m simply signing on to their “free” Google Ad Manager service. All of the above simply describes just how much business intelligence and inside data access Google would get about my web businesses if I sign up for their new “free” Google Ad Manager service offering. Actually, I’m not signing on. I’d have to be stupid to sign on and give them all of that access. Completely insane. Sorry if you feel I wasted your time with this post.
Update: It looks like I inspired at least one Googler to quit his job working for Google.