For the past two plus weeks the Internet marketing community, and in particular the SEO subset of that community, has been up in arms about Google’s search update called “Search Plus Your World”. If you would like a primer on this Google search update you can go here or here. if you haven’t taken the time to dig into this search update it would be advisable to do so. It has the potential to be huge on many levels and Internet marketers need to be educated.
If you would like to hear the shrill cry of “Foul!” feel free to read the long winded cry of search industry pundit Danny Sullivan. He is not alone in his assessment that the Google search update, that we will refer to as SPYW from here on out, is a bad move by Google. He goes so far as to talk enough about anti-trust possibilities and Google’s trek into an area where its relevancy is compromised that you feel like he is working for the competition. In the end, however, his voice is just one in an industry that often forgets that no one beyond the walls of the relatively small group of insiders and “kinda insiders” (that’s what I define myself as by the way) hears these rants, cares whether Google is fair or is even aware that these changes have taken place at all.
It’s here where I step in and say to stop getting involved in following or valuing these page view grabbing efforts. Stop wasting your time trying to determine which side of the fence you are on. In fact, stop thinking that your outrage can change Google’s mind. It can’t and it won’t.
The truth is that Google is a business not a government entity. Any interference in the workings of this company by the government or “activists” is dangerous. It is, in essence, telling the world that if you are smart enough and savvy enough to creates something that benefits the world greatly then the world owns it and not you. Having recently read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, it seems reminiscent of the plight of the main characters in the book. Please don’t confuse me as a Rand follower because I think that people take that attitude to the extreme and it can be dangerous. I do, however, agree with some of the free market principles examined in the book and the quandary that Google finds itself in right now is one that we should pay some level of attention to from a macro perspective, for sure.
At the micro level though, this is merely an event that Internet marketers need to analyze and determine how they will take this course change from Google and use it to their marketing advantage. It does look like Google will be favoring its own services in the search results. The simple question is, “Why shouldn’t they?” The socialist-like call of the Internet industry glitterati says that Google is not giving the user the whole picture. Unfortunately, most of these pundits aren’t either, because the real social data from the big boys, Facebook and Twitter, is not fully available to the search engine due to the fact that they cannot come to agreements on payment for that data.
God forbid though that Google make that argument. They get strung up while Facebook and Twitter employees get pats on the back by the industry types for creating a tool you can find at Focus on the User that supposedly shows Google search results before SPYW and after thus pointing out the injustice perpetrated against the poor defenseless folks at Facebook and Twitter. Funny, I haven’t seen a similar tool that rips out the Facebook results from Bing, who just so happens to have an exclusive arrangement with Facebook to get their data. Oh, and also let’s not forget that Microsoft is a Facebook investor. No improprieties there, huh? Where are the likes of Sullivan et al about this kind of skewed result? Nowhere, becasue it doesn’t generate the kind of traffic that beating up on Google does.
So anyway, here’s the net/net for us ordinary folk who are just looking to maneuver the Internet and social media marketing landscape for ourselves and our clients. Google is putting heavier emphasis on Google+ as a social search signal. That means you should be there. This doesn’t mean you scrap Facebook and Twitter efforts, unless you are a complete moron. They are all important and will continue to be, even if there is not equal representation in the Google search engine result pages. It makes for more work, but that’s the way it is, folks.
Don’t get caught up in the debate. It’s not worth it and most of it is junk anyway. It’s self-serving rants by those who are so far removed from the true realities of the Internet that they really don’t matter except to themselves. We commoners don’t need to be there and would be best served to simply ignore it, put the blinders on, and do business the way that Google is offering right now. Heck, we know that will likely change in a few months anyway and a whole new slew of rants and raves will be flying about for sure.
Steer clear of this noise and don’t get all fired up about whether what Google does is good, bad, or indifferent. It just is–and you would be best served to play along and let the “cool kids” argue about it.
P.S. – For fun, if you want to read a more succinct and maybe even more intense take on this, you might enjoy Andy Beal’s take from earlier this week.