Since no one has asked my opinion on Google’s decision to go 100% (not provided), I’m going to go ahead and provide it for free.
For more than a year, I’ve said either the industry was going to have to clean up on it’s own creeper-ness or the Government was going to get involved. Users are getting more and more freaked out by retargeting because they think advertisers are following them. This became so complicated that Target was able to send a pregnant teenage girl advertisements for diapers before she had told anyone, including her father she was pregnant.
The more these stories come out, the more freaked out the general public is going to be about it. Top it off with the NSA spying scandal and growing anti-government sentiment, in Google’s actions today we got a little bit of Column A and a little bit of Column B. Because of accusations of either implicit or explicit cooperation with the NSA, Google is encrypting all of their searches. Internet marketers who a month ago were railing against the Government and Google for spying on the American Public are now railing against Google because Google won’t let them spy on their customers…for free.
AdWords Budgets Will Increase?
Google still allows access to keyword data via the AdWords advertising platform so an advertiser can see what keywords trigger adds in Google Searches (and contextual sites) and industry types are pointing to that as a double standard. “We can get the same data, we just have to pay for it,” these people would seemingly say, forgetting that they’re two separate platforms. It’s really trying to compare apples and oranges. Starting an AdWords campaign because the lack of data from organic search doesn’t make any sense. The need for more keyword data isn’t that imperative, especially when conversions from AdWords and conversions from Organic search many times are two different sets of terms. Most practitioners worth their salt will tell you visitors from Paid Search behave differently than visitors from Organic Search.
It’s Nothing New
For those who never saw this coming, Google has been preparing for this for a while. The last couple of publicized updates to their algorithm, the Penguin 2.0 update was specifically going after over optimized text links; using specific keywords as hyperlinks to a web page. Initially this type of citation was the backbone of Google’s algorithm. So people manipulated it as much as possible, creating links and whole networks of sites dedicated to link back to a website with specific keywords as the hypertext. Google has plainly said they are going after these specific types of tactics with their most recent updates. Like the meta keywords tag, the actual keywords are being devalued.
We now have a whole new set of signals claiming which content is authoritative; social signals. I touched on this a little bit yesterday, but every tweet, like, +1, comment, pin, digg(?), etc. is a new way of determining authority. And while spam is running rampant on these social channels, it’s fairly easy to see. If it’s that obvious, the social spam won’t be counted towards any type of rankings. Right now, it’s probably easier to detect.
Again, as I pointed out yesterday, no one has actually said that these social signals are ranking factors, and many claims at direct causation have been dealt with by the comment police The correlation strongly suggests though that items that tend to get shared a lot may have similar characteristics to items that would tend to rank highly in search engines.
Why, Google Why?
Lot’s of us are ironically bandying about the unofficial Google mantra “Don’t be evil” because Google can’t possibly do anything ever for the greater good. First they’re in league with the NSA, then when they claim privacy measures Google is clearly doing it to screw their customers. No one is saying to take everything Google says at face value, but looking at how much Google has grown j15 years, most likely 100% (not provided) is privacy issues.
Google’s a big ass company. They’ve grown so much, so fast, in an industry so new that we don’t really know how to regulate it (no one is advocating government regulation). The standard monopoly and anti-trust laws don’t apply. But what Google does have is data. And contrary to what people have heard, Google’s actual mission statement is as follows:
To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
There it is; all the information. In all of the world. They have been making good on that mission statement, so much so that we’re starting to wonder how much information is too much for an organization. The NSA spying is the first real outcry that the United States public has had with Google. It’s now in our cultural zeitgeist. But Google has been fighting anti-trust, monopoly, and privacy suits in the EU for most of the past two decades.
Since 2010, Google has been making concessions because of an EU Antitrust case.
In 2009 Google Analytics was banned in Germany, which was finally lifted in 2011. I was hoping there would be some connection between Johannes Caspar, the guy pushing for the Google Analytics ban, and BMW in some kind of reprisal from when Google dropped BMW.de from its index in 2006 (there wasn’t, and believe me, I looked).
With all the fines and lawsuits and concessions Google is making in Europe, they want to cut that off at the pass before that sentiment reaches US shores. Everything Google is doing right now, the 100% (not provided), requiring one AdWords account per email, consolidating Google accounts, all of this is being done to make sure that by the time American politicians decide to turn against Google, they’ll have the answers already in place.
There’s a smattering of anti-Google sentiment around these parts, but our Government hasn’t really gone after them like the EU has. Google is still considered the best place to work in 2013. And in 2012. And in 2008. And in 2007.
Google stands to lose too much if the full weight of the US government decides to poop their privacy party. Yes, Google is doing this for privacy reasons, and they’re doing it out of their own best interests. They don’t need the same headache twice. But there is no pleasing everyone, even the privacy hawks that wanted this in the first place.