Boardroom Battles At Google Might Spell The End Of “Don’t Be Evil” Slogan

Oh what a mess this is...

According to a recent article on TechCrunch.com, Google inadvertently classified Google Places as a “content farm” and removed them from their index until the you-know-what hit the fan and the Google properties were put back up. {within a few hours}

One could only imagine what Marissa Mayer, who runs Google Places, thought about getting *Google slapped* or whether it got the attention of Google's revenue chief Nikesh Arora, who just spent a couple of weeks being schmoozed by Demand Media's CEO Richard Rosenblatton on his yacht called the AdSense.

Do you think Arora was doing a lot of apologizing for the recent *farmer algorithmic update* which mercilessly routs *low value* aggregated content such as what's served up by Demand Media, Huffington Post and other major Internet properties regardless of whether they have ads powered by Google?

In the excellent TechCrunch article, Michael Arrington infers that something inappropriate was going on when the guy in charge of revenue at Google meets with a major advertiser for a two-week cruise in the Caribbean so soon after Matt Cutt's webspam team introduces the biggest update since Jagger of late 2004: the Farmer update.

The farmer update is meant to clobber *content farms* that aggregate content from other websites, classifying them as low value spam.

Presumably this did not go over well with Mr. Rosenblatton since it's reported that most of Demand Media's 2 billion in revenues is earned from aggregated data wrapped in AdSense ads.

Funny enough though, Rosenblatton only took offence at the reference to his 40 million dollar yacht, not the implication of special treatment, as evidenced by his angry email to the author of that piece. Listen here.

Is This The Beginning Of The End For “don't be evil”?

In a recent blog post, entitled The Human Side Of Google, I expressed admiration for Google, indicating my approval for their adherence to the principle of fair play.

I reminded readers that early on Google felt an obligation to never play favourites when serving up search results. I reported that the guy responsible for Gmail actually coined the term “don't be evil”, saying Google should not resort to the shady practices of competitors in order to make a profit.

He added, Google can still make money without being evil.

But given the apparent ruffled feathers of Marissa Mayer, Google exec since 1999, who reportedly said in a private conversation “screw the webspam team”, as well as the angry tone of revenue chief Arora, who has reportedly lashed out at the webspam team privately at various sales events for targeting some of Google’s most valuable partners, I fear the end might be in sight for the “don't be evil” mantra.

The Golden Rule: He Who Has The Gold Makes The Rules

Cutts and his entire webspam team may be on thin ice over this if my understanding of how business works is right. It's entirely possible that his days are numbered because we all know *money talks*. {some say money doesn't talk, it swears}

I hope I'm wrong on this though because ever since I got started teaching how to build websites for profit in my affiliate marketing trainings I've stressed the need to play by the rules and give Google what it wants: original, relevant, popular content.

I always admonished students to never try to outsmart Google adding that *Google is your friend*.

Yet, unlike the early days when Google was privately held, Google is now a public company. {since 2004} And as we all know public companies have a fiduciary duty to make a profit.

Question: does a longtime Google exec have more clout than a 2 billion dollar advertiser?

Answer: not if you believe in the Golden Rule.

For his part Cutts is adamant that the algorithms make ranking decisions not humans. He was quoted as saying, “If Google were to determine that Google properties {such as Google Places} were not providing high quality results, it would not matter.”

But if that were true then my question is who restored the Google Places pages?

I hope to interview Matt Cutts about this on an upcoming affiliate marketing podcast so that he can clarify his position. I'm also hoping to get assurances that, as online publishers, we are all playing on a level playing field.

Just tweet me, Matt. (tweet link)

Over to You

Admittedly I wrote this article assuming the TechCrunch.com piece was the real deal. It was an April Fools joke. I fell for it hook line and sinker.  😉  But it does leave me to wonder how much truth there is to the article? I bet more than we think. What do you think?

About the Author

James Martell lives in White Rock, BC with his wife Arlene and their three children. James is a pioneer in the affiliate marketing industry and was successfully profiting with affiliate websites as early as 1999.

1 Comment

  1. Delena Silverfox says:

    Something like this unfortunately wouldn't surprise me in the least, if only because of the Golden Rule. There's always some way for the really big-slash-rich guys to one-up everyone else when it looks like they might be forced onto a level playing field.

    The rich never got rich by playing by everyone else's rules, but by changing them! Anyone who's read Robert Kiyosaki knows this. =)

    Delena

    Reply

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