Not only does Google control the search engine results for a few billion people, it also monitors where internet users visit online, controls the trends in online advertising, and it seems to be capable of nullifying and marginalizing websites which criticize the company’s misadventures.
In other words, criticize Google at your own peril.
An Inconvenient Trend
Google is the world’s most used search engine in the world, and on most computer and mobile devices. Google Analytics is the world’s most used internet user and website tracking system because it’s simple to install and use and it’s free. Google’s AdSense is the world’s largest internet advertising network and provides billions in revenue for many millions of website owners.
That means Google carries a very big stick and is not afraid to use it. And use it Google does.
The first example is a trend which has been ongoing for a few years. Advertising revenue to many websites continues to drop. No matter how you count it– CPM, CTR, CPE– many, many websites have seen a notable and ongoing trend toward less revenue per thousand pages viewed, and in many cases, fewer pages referred by Google’s search engine results. Why? Google and advertising network partners appear to collude to drive advertising rates down while continuing to collect ever greater revenue and profits for their automated, algorithm-driven technology.
In fact, Google and partners insert so many tracking devices into ads on a webpage that readers have begun to revolt and now install ad blockers to prevent the tracking, speed up webpage downloads, and end the page clutter that permeates the majority of popular websites which rely on Google’s advertising.
Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics
The second example of Google’s totalitarian control over the internet is traffic. Google controls a massive amount of website traffic through search engine results. Recently, I checked Mac360’s stats on Amazon’s Alexa tracking service. As has been the case in recent years, tracking statistics indicate a steady decline. Then I decided to check other Apple oriented websites.
Stats vary over time, but every popular Apple oriented website I checked has seen traffic drop over the past year. DaringFireball, MacDailyNews, AppleInsider, MacObserver, LoopInsight, iMore, MacWorld, and many others have suffered the same decline. Even MacNewsNetwork (MacNN), a popular website that’s been around for more than 20 years, finally closed down because advertising revenue was insufficient to keep the doors open and the lights on.
What do all these websites have in common?
First, they’re all popular Apple oriented websites which usually are favorable to Apple’s products, including those that compete with Google’s products.
Second, each of those sites has, at one time or another, and collectively for many years, been critical to highly critical of Google’s policies, products, executives, and strategies. That includes my own personal blog, PixoBebo, which has seen a drop of nearly 4-million spots in Alexa’s rankings over the past few years since I became more critical of Google as an Apple competitor instead of a partner.
Wait a minute.
Alexa is a ranking system not related to Google, right? Not quite. Google, through search engine results, sends an enormous amount of referral traffic to websites, while Alexa merely tracks which sites users visit. The steady and profound drop in rankings for Apple oriented websites might have other causes, but because Google controls so much of the traffic on the internet, they must be considered suspect, especially because they compete heavily with Apple.
Is it mere coincidence that websites that criticize Google all happen to have similar drops in traffic over a similar period, much of which comes from Google search engine referrals?
Gibbs Rule #39: There is no such thing as coincidence.
Google has the power to impact the internet negatively, to a point where it can– and there is growing evidence that it does– destroy websites which are critical of the company’s policies, products, and strategies.
Wait a minute.
Fly, Meet Ointment
Are not Google’s famed search algorithms really an example blind justice in technology? Blind? Perhaps. Google claims to rank websites based on both the rankings and number of related websites and links which point back to a site. It’s complicated, yes, and much of the time it just doesn’t work. This site and others have more back links than ever, yet end up getting ranked less. Often, if I ask a question as part of a Google search, I get back results which merely ask the same question I asked but does not provide an answer. How is that possible if part of search and site rankings are based upon links to websites. Who links to a webpage that asks a question but does not provide an answer?
It’s my opinion that Google is broken and should be broken up. No, not as in ‘Google merely is a part of the Alphabet mothership‘ of other company ventures that have, thus far, failed. Google’s dominance over search results, website traffic referrals, and advertising is only good for Google. It’s not good for anyone else, not good for users, not good for the internet as a whole, and especially not good for Apple oriented websites which criticize Google’s methodologies.