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“when whales fight, the shrimp’s back is broken”

Google, Facebook, and Twitter are battling. Google is clearly the aggressor right now, unsatisfied with it’s role as “aggregator of the worlds information…. but only when the world permits it”.

Google has been pushing around web publishers and web users for the past year or so, and is now making moves to show it’s willingness to destroy the search results in order to get the social media access it wants. Presumably to make those search results better… but I’m losing faith in that. More than ever, it’s becoming clear Google is only after the money and power.

The people have spoken — they don’t like Google Plus very much. Certainly not as much as Facebook or Twitter. In fact, the people haven’t liked much of what Google has developed so far at all. Oh sure properties like YouTube and Maps are loved, but Google didn’t create those. Google Search is the only Google-developed product the masses really like and use.

And now Google is taking that away. Google just took away the meaningful, diversified SERPs that made it famous, and replaced them with junk culled from Google’s social media and other properties. I’ve already heard two people say “I hate the new Google. I can’t find anything I want”.

This is a very dangerous game for Google to play. Not sure what’s going on in that Google complex. Is it desperate?

Google did this with local last year… and that is still a mess. Google Place Pages replaced yellow pages and various other listing and directory sources. My own personal experience with Google local today? When I use Google Maps linked to Google Places and local reviews, it is wrong more than it is right. Much more. Businesses that moved a year ago, still shown at the old address. Restaurants that changed name many years ago still ranking for the old name. Lots and lots of “the wrong things” returned.

Just yesterday I finished playing tennis in Seattle, and hit maps for “tennis store” because I blame my raquet for everything. Google was useless for local commerce. I tried “tennis raquets” — also useless. What a waste of time relying on Google local! I was ready to spend up to $150 for a tennis raquet *if* I could hold it in my hand and ask about grip size and get it stringed while I waited.

My disappointment with Google for local is based in my expectations… that’s the scary part. Those searches use to work! Google used to return useful answers for searches like that!

An old Korean saying translates to “when whales fight, the shrimp’s back is broken”. That’s what we have here… Google’s gotten super greedy, innovators like Twitter and even Facebook are resisting the Borg, and Google’s getting mad and taking it’s ball home.

Grow up, Google. There’s a long road ahead and you have plenty going for you. Make search work. We’ll love you for it.

One Comment

  1. Totally agree with you on the thrashing of the search results. Our experience managing Google Local listings, even our own, has been awful and unpredictable. We have verified listings that don’t reflect our input. When we approach Google about our challenges it is like talking to a black hole. We are left to guess/experiment until the listing is corrected. And at that point, we are not sure if it was our work or Google sudden changed without notice again.

    To reflect what you are saying John, the most frustrating part is that they prioritize their product and then don’t support the data managers. It is as if they are polluting their own search results on purpose.

    I support the idea that the incongruity and unpredictability of their offerings is due in large part to their silo-ed approach. Steve Yegge posted a blog rant about this subject ( in October of 2011. As both an Amazon and Google employee he has unique insights into the fundamental differences between he companies. To summarize crudely, everything is separate and nothing is designed to integrate easily at Google. This means each product has to mature on its own and no other product has easy access to its data or services. When Google wants to integrate the data it is likely a total disaster which results in my personal suffering as well as billions of other people’s suffering which further results in billions of dollars in lost revenue and worldwide productivity.

    There is at least one more bright spot in the Google product portfolio. We have been having a lot of luck using Google Sketchup for 3D rendering. The learning curve is much lower than Maya and the cost is lower.

    Thanks for calling it as it is.


    Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink