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Google Stifles Innovation, starts Strangling Itself

I’ve long claimed that Google’s efforts to regulate Internet publishing for it’s own commercial gain stifles innovation. I started this blog 2007 when it became clear that I needed to raise my profile as an SEO or get quietly destroyed via what could fairly be defined as anti-competitive practices. Google was getting big and powerful and had already shown many of us it would be playing hardball with any one who threatened to make money off it’s activities. That despite a managed public “do no evil” image.

Towards the end of 2007 it was clear how Google would lead, set up, and knock down SEO. Google has now completed most of that strategy. A careful analysis of the SEO world today would reveal an almost meaningless press, few if any actionable SEO guides coming out of citizen media (seo blogs), a virtual army of propagandists (some willing, many unwilling) spewing the “just make good content” junk, and more confusion than ever about what SEO is and whether or not it works, is safe, is spam, etc.

Those same actors who call SEO “spam” and proclaim a new age of content marketing based solely on a prayer that Google will reward creative content with traffic, previously helped push SEO under ground starting around 2009, where it had been and where I would have stayed had I not been forced to start blogging in 2007. Why would a sane, knowledgable, experienced tactical practitioner share actionable insights with a community of takers, who are also willing to bow to the competitor (Google) at first sign of the Almighty G being displeased?

Now, Google is larger and bolder than ever. And stifling innovation more than ever. As I casually watch the various stories of Google doing this or that, it’s pretty clear that Google feels threatened. Why? Bazillions is not enough? No, it’s not. Pride and avarice… pride and avarice. The difference today is that Google seems willing to be the bad guy, in order to secure and protect it’s control over the Internet Billions. It doesn’t seem to care that people don’t trust it, or dislike it.

In “Google yanks Adblock Plus from Google Play, Surprising Nobody“, Venturebeat reported that Google had dropped the super-popular ad blocking plugin from the downloads area developers are required to use to reach consumers. Google cited a policy violation related to conflict with Google’s commercial interests. That was the reason for the “Surprising Nobody” part from VentureBeat’s editors. But it did surprise some – those who believed Google’s promise to be open and encourage innovation. Clearly, innovation (even very, very popular innovation) is not allowed if it blocks Google from making money.

But that’s not all, folks. The ad blocking plugins have continued despite Google’s attempts to stop them. There are more of them now, and more options, and they are more popular. But the biggest one… the one that Google attempted to stifle back in March, now quietly allows Google’s ads to get through the blocker. Where it used to offer users the option of blocking Google’s ads, it now whitelists them, while still offering the users options for blocking other companies’ ads.

While the SEOs might immediately think Google’s threat of deindexing from Google search or exclusion from the Google Play download store would have been enough of a threat to cause such a reversal by the ad blocking plugin publisher, we now know it was cash. Google reportedly paid AdBlock Plus to whitelist Google’s ads. Some have estimated the saving for Google to be upwards of $800 million dollars.

Innovation? No longer relevant. Good for users? Not if it isn’t also Good for Google. And thus begins the decline of Google, in measurable ways.

We SEOs working the front lines of competitive publishing have always known that Google needs us in order to remain viable as a search engine. Now we know Google doesn’t need to remain viable as a search engine. Google search has been decaying for some time now, and will continue to decline in quality as Google manipulates publishing for advertising-driven commercial gain. It simply doesn’t matter, right now, for Google.

Public respect? Also doesn’t seem to matter so much. Cash is king. So “best for users” is no longer relevant. And I predict, as Google continues to learn that cash matters more than respect, and that users without choices really don’t need to be catered to (especially if you have the power to stifle innovation and corrupt talented disrupters), Google will strangle itself.

I’ll leave the “how” for homework, but historically it has something to do with moral bankruptcy, man’s search for meaning, the purpose of life and the man’s need for freedom/tolerance for abuse.

We can see it happening internally… Google is big and full of smart people. Some are moving towards hardware, some towards global initiatives, some towards other areas. But just as the Borg will be evil externally to protect it’s advertising cash, the organization can be expected to behave badly internally, when the ad-driven cash flow is disturbed. I think they know this… but don’t know what to do about it.

Which reminds me… sacred cows make the best hamburgers.

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