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?


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.


We apparently rely on it too much as an established yet disruptive technology. Google makes rules, and when the annoying sorts beat Google at their own game, Google takes their ball and goes home to change the rules, ruining for everyone who was playing fair. I'll bet Google's fix doesn't last two months with respect to the cheaters.

slagleb 1 Like

Several years ago I was trying to build up an online presence with an informational website. I thought it would be nice to make a little coin if possible. I wasn't expecting much, but apparently someone else had the same idea and set out to destroy my Google Ads relationship. Long story short, Google wasn't interested in hearing my side of the story. They are simply too big to care. Before I even understood the fraudulent ad-click situation that took place, Google sent me notification that I was shut off and let me know that I was a low-life piece of pooh. That was 3 years ago and it left such a bad taste in my mouth that I haven't been back to it since. I simply gave up and I guess it worked just the way the bad guy wanted it to.


Just curious how they did that? That's horrible!


I have been interested in turning my maps on Google Maps into a blog of sort but the GeoRSS output is kaput for some reason right now. One of the threads is talking about how much one particular individual relied on that output for the services he offered. I just wanted a fun output and he needed it for something serious! To think that the Google Ads relationship you had was destroyed by an interloper and not restored makes me concerned that even if Google "does no evil", it certainly seems to be allowing evil to be perpetrated in its name...

maj37 3 Like

I thought the whole brown nose thing was cute and did in fact convey, to me at least, the point that Google weilds a lot of power and web site owners really don't wan't to offend them. maj


I thought that was pretty clear myself too.


Was there a point to this waste of electrons? Did your site or blog get wiped? You never say why you are going though this session of brown nosed smarmyness.

dcolbert 1 Like

Google results are of particular concern to sites that host dynamic content, like online magazines, blogs and other content distributors. If a search for keywords and metadata takes you to Tech Republic, then Tech Republic writers and staff are happy. If the same keywords take you instead to Wired Magazine or Gawker, then Tech Republic writers and staffers are less happy. But these same concerns should apply to any IT professional. If you run the IT infrastructure, including web-servers, for a pond supply distributor, you want keyword and metadata search for pond supplies to lead to YOUR site. If it leads to your competitor's site, this is a problem for you. Same thing. Knowing this, it makes people who have careers that are directly related to the whims of Google's algorithms have a certain cautious regard for upsetting Google. It was a tongue-in-cheek way to illustrate this. Made perfect sense to me.

toni.bowers 6 Like

I don't feel complete until I get an unnecessary flame from a miserable troll with nothing better to do than spew his hatefulness on strangers. Thanks, I'm whole now. BTW, the "brown-nosed smarmyness" was meant to convey in a lighthearted way the online worker's dependence on Google. The people who shared the piece (see above) seem to understand that.

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