Like many people I have a love/hate relationship with Google. Probably a bit stronger on the HATE side than most. I’ve already come to terms with the fact that they are spying on me and selling data banks on my buying habits and fetishes to retailers. You know and I know that THEY know more about me than my wife. I realize that they are force feeding me products and services when I’m not sure I need.
But what I have a BIG problem with is their influence on picking winners (and losers). Perhaps many don’t realize or care that 92% of online search dominance is monopolistic. But today is the day we should all take note. Why? Because Google is putting companies out of business. I’m not talking about obsolescence, like Netflix taking out blockbuster with modernization. I’m talking about companies folding because Google decided they are a loser.
As founder of a company that designs websites, I am as guilty as anyone playing the SEO game. We pretend like there is something natural about the ranking system, and it’s just a part of the ecosystem of the web. Only it isn’t natural. It’s engineered by engineers at Google. And these days, where AI is cheaper than HI, even they don’t quite understand how it all works. But what we/they do know is that it’s biased, and that has major implications on business.
WAIT, What Just Happened?
Just a few days ago, Google released a major algorithmic update. In an unprecedented move, it announced this update the day before it went into effect. I usually tell clients to ignore the buzz around updates because they are usually just PR gimmicks for google. It keeps them relevant and gives SEOs a reason to charge clients a boatload of money. In fact, Google makes such updates almost daily, and they are primarily driven at “Search Quality” which means they are trying to take out the spammy links. You know, the ones artificially inflated by SEOs because they exploited a loophole. But this one is a big deal, not because it directly affects law firms (it doesn’t really), but because it affects all of us. And perhaps the next update will indeed decide which lawyers and law firms are winners and losers.
To be clear, this latest update seems to affect news sites more than anyone else. Perhaps some legal publications are also impacted. I do know that Google has had this power for some time, and has generally been restraining itself. But I also know their MO is to very slowly creep us into submission. Let’s watch what happens next.