Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways
If there was ever a battle for the Internet then Google has won, even if you don’t use any of the various apps and tools they have you more than likely use the Google search. For over 10 years now Google has grown from research project to Internet superpower and has no plans giving up any of the stranglehold it now holds on your online lives. Surely now something needs to be done to ensure the things Google does is in the best interests of the population and individual users, not the bottom line.
Don’t be Evil
Supposedly the motto on which Google was founded, yet it seems on the way to becoming the multi-billion dollar company it is today they seem to have lost their way. If you leave aside all the apps and tool’s that Google produce you are left with their core business, the Google search. It’s become so ingrained in our daily lives that we now use Google as a verb to search online. Amazingly this seems to be something they disapprove of, yet I’m sure secretly love it.
The problem is with Google search is how much it affects what is done on the Internet. Even if you’re not in the SEO game there are things you do that affect how you appear in the search rankings. The newest goal of Google is to make the Internet a much speedier place by using a websites loading time as a factor in its algorithm. Sure making the Internet go faster is a good thing, so long as it doesn’t affect the quality of the web. But is it Google’s place to decide these things? You could say that Google can’t force us to do anything we don’t want to but really we have little alternative but to tow the Google line.
With great power comes great responsibility
Google is the primary source of traffic on the web for a high percentage of websites; it far surpasses any traffic coming from other search engines, websites or direct traffic. For many online businesses to lose the traffic they get from Google could put them out of business all together; and this is something Google regularly do. As part of Google’s vision for relevant listings for its users it has a few rules that it sets to ensure people aren’t gaming the algorithm and providing potentially useless information high up the rankings.
Its rule book, though I doubt any of this is written down anywhere, has stuff about hidden content and buying links. Anyone found to be in breach of the rules can face penalties or removal from Google. Of course this is totally at the whim of Google or its internal processes, again which no one has any clue over.
Of course penalties and bans can be due to valid reasons but it’s likely that sometimes Google get it wrong or the rules they make just aren’t fair. Take the page loading addition to the algorithm, if a site takes an age to load will it get a penalty? What if the problem is with the host, or due to high traffic?
Batman had his trusty butler Alfred to keep everything clean and working back in the batcave, but he also provided a moral conscious for the dark knight. What Google needs is Alfred.
In the UK certain industries have independent regulators to ensure companies within that industry are working in the best interests of the consumer rather than the shareholders. I think it’s about time we had an Ofgoog or Ofsearch to regulate Google and potentially other search engines or online businesses to ensure the monopoly they have and their effect on our online landscape is fair and in the best interests of us all.
If a regulatory body was set up then proper processes could be set up by which if Google thinks a site has broken its rules it would first refer to this body, who would act as an intermediary between Google and the site owner. This way the case can be properly looked at to ensure a case exists and if so a more lenient way of resolving the issue rather than an immediate and without warning penalty or ban.
Doing things this way just seems a little fairer, ensuring an independent view exists in all of Google’s dealings sounds like an excellent idea to me, and I’m probably not the first to consider it either.