It’s kind of hard to say whether the recent changes to Google’s algorithm make sense. I mean, they’re not a government agency which is open to criticism from the general public and which has to deal with the voters. On the other hand, as the dominant search engine, it does seem like we as the Internet using public have a right to demand certain standards from Google. Otherwise, we can take our business elsewhere.
Weeding Out the Spammers
Google of course is faced with an immense problem. Because they are the world’s most popular search engine, by far, they are the target of constant spam efforts. People are always trying to find ways to rank high in the Google search results and frankly they always seem to have some new secret scheme to do just that (I can’t tell you how many e-mails I’ve gotten offering “bullet proof” ways to beat your way to the top of Google if I’ll only hand over my credit card for a $47 charge).
The Google Duopoly
Google also has a kind of duopoly of purposes. On the one hand, they maintain their stature as the number one search engine by constantly making efforts to provide the most relevant search results available. On the other hand, they don’t make money from their search results. They make money from their Adwords service, which serves up advertising alongside the organic search results.
Do Big Advertisers Get Preferential Treatment?
This constant “yin and yang” of the company causes many people to question Google’s motives and to say that Google is way too beholden to advertisers. In fact, at one point, there was a bit of a scandal where senior Google engineers were recorded providing ideas to major advertisers on how to rank high in the organic search results.
Now to be fair, from what I understand, the information was the same stuff you can find in their public statements. However, just the fact that this was done, even if all they did was provide their engineers to explain things they already tell the public about does make one question things, at least a little bit.
Back to the Topic at Hand
However, I digress (though for a reason). The question here is whether Google’s new changes make sense. I’d have to say that they make sense for the company as a way to maximize profits first and on a secondary level, to continue to provide a quality user experience for web searchers.
What I Mean
Google’s changes do punish a number of websites. However, it seems to me that the websites that went down the most are also the ones that don’t spend much on Adwords advertising. Now, before anyone screams conspiracy theory, the fact is that the places that don’t do much in the way of Adwords advertising do tend to be the spammiest of places.
I really had no problem with taking crap content spewed onto the Internet by people who can’t even string a sentence together and demoting it to the bottom of the pile.
Some Junk Still Rises to the Top
On the other hand, I was a little incensed that the biggest content farm of them all, Demand Studio’s eHow (full disclosure, I have written for eHow occasionally, though I really don’t like them because I feel they don’t do a good job on editing and I feel that the quality of many of their writers is quite poor) happened to be one of the sites that still gets lots of first page hits.
Now to be fair, eHow is a mixed bag – some of their content is excellent (hey, I wrote a small fraction of a percent of it), but some of it is also garbage and still seems to rank high in the Google rankings. Bottom line, yes, I think the changes make sense. However, if they really want to make their search engine truly useful, they need to tweak things a little more.