Collaboration

Hey Google, was it something I said?

When Google tweaks its algorithm to deal with those gaming the system, it can indirectly affect those sites who are doing things right.

If your company's success depends directly on the success of its website, then you know what a prominent role the search giant Google can play. You can be going happily along gaining new visitors every day and then Google can do some dreaded "algorithm tweak" and you can bottom out.

Those of us who care about such things know that about a month ago, Google made a sweeping change to its search results with an emphasis on original content and knowledge that impacted nearly 12 percent of all searches.

Let me just say that I admire Google for keeping ahead of those who would abuse the search system for their own gain. (And if you're reading this Mr. Google sir, let me just say that shirt you're wearing really brings out the soulfulness of your eyes!)

But sometimes it seems like the innocent are penalized unfairly. If you cast a wide enough net, sometimes you're going to snag some well-meaning dolphins with the haul, you know? (No disrespect Mr. Google. I wouldn't want you to anger you. Can I get you anything by the way? Double grande cafe mocha?)

The problem is that as a worker, you can be doing a bang-up job pulling in impressive page views, but if Google decides to make a change, it's all for naught. Pretty soon you experience what my colleague Mark Kaelin refers to as Googlegeddon.

When you're not gaming the system but still get lumped in with the steroid-taking losers, it's frustrating. And something like that can endanger the careers of people who are diligently doing their jobs. Google wields some extraordinary power — and may I say you look marvelous doing it, Mr. Google!-but it's a little disappointing to have to always make sure you're appeasing the Google god when you're just trying to get good information out to people.

And — excuse me for a second — are you leaving Mr. Google? It's a little rainy out there. Can I offer to get your car and pull it around? Oh, it's no problem! Glad to do it!

Anyway, sometimes an internet content provider feels a little like the man who asked Don Corleone for a loan on the "occasion of his daughter's marriage." Sometimes, you just have to take an offer you can't refuse.

Has your business or organization ever been affected by changes in Google's mysterious algorithm? What do you think about the power that Google has over the dissemination of information on the Internet? Do you use other search engines?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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