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Why I Occasionally Hate Google

Alec Sharratt

by Alec Sharratt on 1st May 2012

Google ScreenThis isn’t going to be a rant about how my rankings have dropped since an algorithm update or a rant about Google are shifting goal posts… No, to be honest I haven’t been negatively affected by Google in this way. Nonetheless, this is still a rant, but one with a little more merit than just simply moaning about poor results.

Tell Us the Truth Google

I recently attended a seminar at Google HQ in London where I was privy to some presentations by Google employees and after was afforded the opportunity to ask some questions. Although there were some interesting points in the presentations, the dominant feeling I had on the way home was disappointment. It seemed that whenever a difficult question was asked, the answer was “thanks for your feedback”.

We heard this statement repeated an uncountable number of times throughout the couple of hours of questions. Also at BrightonSEO, where Pierre Far attended a discussion on stage, we were once again confronted with the statement “thanks for your feedback”…

My Solution…

I can appreciate that this is amusing the first couple of times, after the 10th time I heard this statement I thought “just answer the damn question”!

All You Need is Good Content

The company line seems to be “just create good content”, a quote from one of the speakers was “rather than spend £1000 on link building, spend it on a piece of journalistic content”… Hmmm. Might I draw your attention to reality for just a moment please Google! Do a search for “Payday Loans” and click on the first organic result and let me know if this is the best content on the net for that topic. Is it? No. Has it got a dump load of links pointing at it? Yes. Furthermore the domain was registered 25 days ago! I will touch upon black hat and negative SEO later, but for the time being I think it can be demonstrably proven that link building is more effective than unlinked-to great content.

My Solution…

Get good content AND good links.

Just Be the Best!

We were given the analogy of a kebab house in London, which sells the best kebabs in London… This parlour of culinary kebab excellence is located in someone’s basement and consequently no-one visits it. As time goes on people start to spread the word about the kebab house and it eventually becomes very popular and is able to acquire a better premises.

OK, so firstly this entire concept, beautiful though it may be, is fundamentally flawed because it is dependent on the business being the best at what it does. Working for an agency we cannot say to potential clients “unfortunately you are not better than all of your competition so we cannot help you”. Equally unless you are alone in your industry, only one business can be the best or have the best products.

My Solution…

Be the best you can be at what you do and hire an agency that is the best at what they do to manage your SEO. Google – Just admit that the best business isn’t always the highest ranked result.

No Such Thing as Negative SEO

Well, what with recent events like SEOMoz and Dan Thies getting hit by negative SEO attacks, it is fairly clear to most SEO’s that this is a real threat. We have seen this kind of attack on sites within an industry recently; where everyone on the front page for a certain term was hit. Google deny that it even exists, yet they simultaneously admit that buying links for YOURSELF can result in a penalty, but that buying links for your competitors will not work.

They fall short of backing this up with any evidence to suggest that the algorithm is capable of determining who bought what links and for whom. This is fast becoming one of the most contentious points in the search landscape today as we see an emergence of techy SEOs capable of damaging competitor websites.

Google have even implemented a “reconsideration request” within Google Webmaster Tools, so that should you buy links or be the unfortunate victim of such an attack, you can report said dodgy links for review.

My Solution…

Do not penalise websites for dodgy links, just do not reward them. Thus there would be no advantage to getting them but no benefit from buying them for the guy ranked above you in the SERPs.

Not provided

This is another fairly recent issue which is the result of Google trying to protect the privacy of their users by not providing keyword data within Google Analytics for users signed into Google. Of course this data is present in AdWords, should you want to buy your traffic, and hence doesn’t affect the privacy of those valued “commodities”, erm sorry, “customers”. They have also decided to provide us with the “not provided” data in Webmaster Tools, although it is wildly inaccurate and does not tally with either AdWords or Analytics.

My Solution…

Provide the DATA!!!

Google Places

This is a great tool but I, among many others, have suffered from other people closing competitor Google Places accounts. There is a very simple option to click on if you would like to inform them that a place is closed, someone even did this to Google’s own Google Places account to prove the point but it seems they were “grateful for the feedback”.

This kind of negative marketing is very damaging, especially for small or local businesses and is very easy to solve…

My Solution…

Simply contact the Google Places owner and confirm whether they are in fact closed, if there is no response within say 30 days, then close the account.


For the most part Google provide an exceptional service and one that underpins the entire SEO industry, but this doesn’t mean that a few simple tweaks and a more honest approach wouldn’t be very much appreciated.

If you have any gripes with Google, we would love to hear about them please leave a comment in the box below.

Image Source

Google screen via BigStock

Alec Sharratt

Alec Sharratt

Alec Sharratt will be writing about his passion; the technical aspects of search. Well experienced within the IT industry, Alec has bags of knowledge on everything technical from simple spreadsheets that will save you hours right up to news and tips to make search that little bit easier.


  • Katie Saxon 1st May 2012

    My biggest gripe with Google is the recent AdWords changes – especially the move to more or less kill the ad rotation settings that let us PPC folk test our ads effectively. Haven’t come across 1 person who is actually happy with the change yet – & some guys are pretty damn angry (see http://twitter.com/#!/search/realtime/%23ppcchat for examples). It’s a blatant case of Google looking for ways to put more money in their pocket – and with so few people using Bing/Yahoo/[insert alternative search engine here] we have no choice but to accept it. Not cool.

    Reply to this comment

  • Den Nicholson 1st May 2012

    My biggest gripe with Google is the way they allow you to work hard to build your online presence then they change everything on a whim, taking your income with it. If there was a decent competing search engine I think it could be a lot different

    Reply to this comment

    • Jay 1st May 2012

      I quite agree with you Den. The company I work have just spent months going through a clients huge e-com site making sure everything was hunky dory – then google decide to move the goal posts….again.

      We should start a campaign to get more people to use other popular search engines.

      Google have got far too big for thier own good imo.

      Reply to this comment

  • Alec 1st May 2012

    Thanks for your comments guys, personally one of the things that I enjoy about Search is the shifting topology of the landscape on which we work… The changes keep the game fresh. But I can appreciate that this is frustrating for some. That said… It would be nice if they were more honest about where the goal posts are!

    Reply to this comment

  • Charlotte Waller 2nd May 2012

    I’d also love some more competition for them – won’t someone pleaseee tell Apple to bring out a search engine?! :)

    Even if you build your online profile and presence honestly you can still suffer sudden drops in results however without Google I wouldn’t have a job so I guess in essence this is a minor gripe!

    Reply to this comment

  • Alec 2nd May 2012

    I totally agree Charlotte, some healthy competition for Google would be great as I think it would force them to be open and customer-centric.

    I think if Google weren’t around we would all be optimising for Yahoo or Bing… However far removed from reality that may seem!

    Reply to this comment

  • Graeme Benge

    Graeme Benge 2nd May 2012

    Playing devil’s advocate, isn’t it Google’s prerogative to set the conditions? It’s not their fault the competition is minimal.

    I guess the big frustration is the “inconsistencies” SEO’s face…we’ll leave it there!

    Musicians are not the biggest fan of the hoops they have to jump through to have their music found on iTunes so Apple might just be as bad as Google…but I bet it would look nice!

    Reply to this comment

  • Alec 2nd May 2012

    Fair points Graeme, I wouldn’t blame Google for the lack of competition at all… It just would be nice if they had some!

    Reply to this comment

  • Laure 3rd May 2012

    I agree with this article and your comments.
    There are other search engines: I’ve been experimenting Duckduckgo and they’re pretty fantastic! They’re getting more users, the most difficult thing is to set up all your browsers/ devices with DDG as the default search engine and change the pattern.
    Let me know if you give it a try. They do have fancy tools/ settings.

    Reply to this comment

  • Charlotte Waller 3rd May 2012

    I didn’t realise that about musicians – so Apple make iTunes difficult for musicians to have their music found? Interesting fact thanks!

    I’ve heard Duckduckgo is great too – what do you think about Blekko?

    Reply to this comment

    • Laure 4th May 2012

      Hey Charlotte, I haven’t tried Blekko yet, I’ve heard of Duckduckgo much before Blekko and it’s hard enough to switch gears. But I just gave it a try and… I actually really like the endless SERP on DDG and the little tweaks that you can apply!
      Have you tried them both? What do you think?

      Reply to this comment

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