Google has had a long and semi-public battle with search engine optimizers and spammers – folks who use various strategies and tricks to get ranked higher in the results pages. But will unintended consequences hurt them long term? And how much easier will it be for MSN to take away their golden goose?
This year, the big news at Google has been “the sandbox.”
Bottom line: If you launch a new web site Google penalizes you for an undetermined amount of time by keeping you out of the search results for popular terms. Just because you are new.
This has had its intended effect.
The search engine optimization community is pissed. After all, it ain’t a great pitch to say:
“Let me optimize your new site and maybe, if you are lucky, after a year or more when Google decides you are ‘OK’ … you’ll start seeing some traffic.”
Business owners want fast, measurable results. When you can’t offer them, you are stuck with delivering a “just trust me, it’ll work” line for a year or more.
Not good at all.
From Google’s perspective, this seems like a good thing. New sites driven by manipulative tactics Google doesn’t like won’t get the results they want. In theory, this means that legitimate sites will eventually rise to the top and the user will get more relevant results.
Let’s look at the unintended consequence of this action.
I love Google. Have for a long time. I’ve evangelized it. A lot. But it is a utilitarian love. In other words, as long as Google gives me the results I want faster and easier than the next place; I’ll continue to show my love. The moment they stop providing the best results, I’m gone.
Unfortunately, Google’s results are sucking lately.
More and more.
Three times this week I have searched for official sites of medium and large organizations. When the official web page did not come up in the first 2 or 3 pages of results, I thought they didn’t have web sites.
I go over the new Beta of MSN Search, and sure enough… the results I’m looking for show up right at the top of the listings. After calling a search-engine-guru friend of mine, I learned about “the sandbox” and how it was artificially cheating the search results.
These companies had done nothing against Google’s guidelines, yet they were being kept out of the results because their site was less than a year old. In the process of hurting search engine spammers (a huge problem, no doubt) … they have hurt a legitimate business and an end user, me.
Instead of moving at Internet speed, where months old content is out-of-date, Google is moving at snail mail speed. And that, my friend, sucks.
If it keeps up, I believe Google will make it easier for Beta of MSN Search to take a dominant position in the search engine market with the next release of Windows. It pains me to say for three reasons:
- I genuinely like Google and wnat them to remain dominant.
- I spend thousands of dollars on Adwords each month, and get a terrific ROI. If Google traffic slows, I’ll be at the mercy of poorer advertising programs, not nearly as well executed as Adwords.
- I’m a Mac guy.
Anyway, I’ve got no love for search engine spammers. But I hope Google finds a way to combat the spammers AND let the good sites through. Otherwise, once Beta of MSN Search comes out of Beta, I’ll have a new “goto” search engine.