Sneaky Ways Google Wants to Eat Your Lunch and How to Feed Yourself Instead
The overall Google strategy might not be obvious to most people but when you look at all the large and small changes Google undertakes the direction is clear:
Google wants to own and control everything:
- internet access
That’s not even the long run, we are talking about processes already taking place and probably being finished a few years from now. So unless Google gets stopped by regulators we face a grim future of almost everything controlled by one giant corporation. How to deal with that?
Of course there are still Amazon, Apple, Facebook Microsoft and the likes competing with Google in some of the above mentioned areas but there is a thing called merger and the dystopian Googlezon that got predicted for 2013 might still appear in some form. Let’s not talk sci-fi here though.
Self-driving cars and augmented reality aside I want to speak about more down to earth topics that affect businesses right now already.
Google literally wants to eat your lunch today. You have to think about how you want to feed yourself instead. The GoogleMart is coming. Will you be the small shopkeeper nobody knows about today?
Just look at some things that are happening now:
In case you use Google Analytics “not provided” is by now the by far most popular search keyword in your organic search reports. There are numerous half-hearted and complex workarounds from the SEO industry but let’s face it:
The data is gone and Google wants to sell it back to us in Google Adwords.
Don’t think you can simply outsmart Google by using some magnificent Google Analytics hacks and custom segments.
Image search traffic
Large publishers wonder where all their Google traffic has gone. Others already know: the new Google image search that basically steals your images and displays them right on Google.com is to blame to a significant part.
Not only does Google hotlink your images so that your site does not even get shown behind it Google image search also hides the fact that it’s a third party image.
Remember Froogle, the third class shopping search engine Google never really made to work? Most other shopping search engines were far better so Google almost scrapped it. Later they renamed it to Google Shopping and pushed it everywhere where they could, especially after
they have dumped rankings of most competitors during the Panda update.
Shopping search engines do not have written editorial content so that they didn’t survive the Panda updates. Google Shopping ranks above all else now by way of the Google Monopoly.
Google Shopping not only does NOT have any content, be it user generated nor editorial, it’s not even search anymore. It’s rather Google shopping ads right now as it’s just a so called “paid inclusion” to use a Google euphemism.
Recently Google introduced it’s proprietary Google+ commenting system. No big deal. Bollocks. Looking closely at Google+ comments you will notice a few key disadvantages. It doesn’t support other log in options than Google+ (good bye Facebook, Twitter, Disqus etc.)
Google+ owns your comments. Your comments do not even display on your site anymore.
They are on Google+ and are only shown on your blog. They use an iframe. You might argue that Facebook etc. have similar issues but Google already owns so much more of your personal Web that it’s just one step further to giving up control of everything.
Paid links/text link ads
Do you remember text link ads or text adverts? Google is still fighting them because they “manipulate” their algorithm since 2005. So instead of fixing their algorithm they are blaming the rest of the world and force them to remove those ads. What a coincidence!
Google largely makes money by serving text links ads, they are called Adsense when they appear on third party sites.
Google shattered most text link vendors under the guise of cleaning up their index.
Now they can control the market and force publishers to use Adsense or die. Many blogs have been thriving due to text link ads prior to the “paid link” crusade by Google. Many of them are dead now or make peanuts from Adsense while Google makes billions without even paying taxes.
What can we do about it?
Now you are probably thinking: I know most of it, you are not telling a secret here. True. Also you are probably wondering: what can you do about it at all, much more powerful entities failed at competing or fighting Google, aren’t we lost from the start?
Do not fret. You are not alone.
Business people all over the world are dealing with the same issues. You don’t have to Googliath all by yourself David!
Band together and form alliances
Google Books wanted to use all copyrighted material for free and display ads around it. Writers and publishers rebelled and fought Google in courts for years. Similarly a class action suit by artists, graphic designers, photographers and other people who are creating imagery is in preparation to fend off the massive content theft the new Google image search means.
Until now every group fights Google by themselves, people band together when it comes to their niche or industry
but don’t support similar cases in adjacent ones. Banding together is a good start but forming cross-industry alliances is even better. For example online store owners hurt by Google Shopping could work together more closely with shopping search engines to prevent Google and Amazon (GoogleZon!) from dominating ecommerce.
Lawmakers need years to fight it through all courts. The Web evolves in the meantime and your business might disappear altogether. Take matters in your own hands.
Don’t play by Google’s rules
It’s downright amazing how many business people play by Google’s rules in a game that’s not theirs. Google tells them to create great content instead of doing SEO they embrace content marketing as a panacea.
Of course it’s important not to create empty sites as people want to get informed and entertained but it’s not your business model to create free content for Google to monetize.
Spread the word, create more originals
Spread your content far and wide for example instead of Google forcing you to remove “copies” as duplicate content.There are no copies in the digital era, just originals.
The more copies of your message are out there the better!
In case Google engineers are too dumb to distinguish between the original and the copies, who cares? It’s Google’s problem not yours. In case your business model is really about hoarding content on site make sure to monetize it yourself and don’t let Google grab it all for free.
Embrace holistic findability
Don’t build your site for Google either. Your information architecture and user experience matter more than the “Google spider happiness”. You can try to make your site perfectly match teh Google requirements and the next day Google will change those. So make sure to build for holistic findability instead.
Findability is not just Google SEO, it’s also the way how users find things on your site.
It’s about using your
- internal search
Due to the overall focus on Google-oriented SEO we often neglect these crucial parts of the equation.
Many business pundits suggest to embrace marketing instead of SEO explaining that it’s much more than search etc. Industry leaders even go so far as to “retire” SEO. That’s giving up.
Competing against real marketers is not the way for self-taught search engine optimizers.
Instead of giving up SEO and turning to more or less traditional marketing make to compete against everybody else who has a degree in marketing from college and 20 years of experience you’d rather have to focus on what you do best: optimization.
You can optimize everything, there is
- website optimization
- landing page optimization
- conversion (rate) optimization
- social media optimization
- digital asset optimization (SEO 2.0 as some have dubbed it)
to name just the obvious ones. Even those disciplines that don’t contain optimization in their names often are about optimizing things. Just think about UX as in user experience (design).
* Creative Commons image by Zanthia.