That’s probably the question on many bloggers’ minds since Google’s SEO Matt Cutts announced Google’s “snitch on your fellow bloggers just for making a living” project (not really, but that’s my name for it). The idea is that if you see a site selling/ buying links, please snitch on them by filling out some form somewhere on Google’s site. This and the big (but unknown) changes in their pagerank algorithm resulted in over 200,000 websites penalized with a lower pagerank.

Am I pissed? Hell, yeah. None of the links in the nav bar of this site are paid links. So wtf? Why did this site’s rank go down instead of up, considering how many high-PR sites I had links from (all of which got penalized, and almost all of which criticized Google). I did have paid links on some other sites, and Google has impacted my ability to earn some ad revenue – considering it’s taken me over two years to crack $100/month in AdSense, with some of that having to be split with partners. Because I’ve spent so much time freelancing in the past two years, to pay my bills, my sites are neglected and I’m kind of stuck in a loop.

Now, I know my neglect of my sites is my own doing, regardless of my situation. Google and all other search engines for the past 12+ years have been all about page relevance. I was the webmaster for one of the earliest search engines, and my employer sold “relevance” for a while by allowing people to buy positions for various search terms. This predated Google and their AdWords, and the more cynical amongst us probably feel Google is selling “visibility” if not relevance.

But is Google evil? Do they think humanity is evil? It makes me wonder why any company in the world would ever adopt the motto “Don’t be evil” for their employees. That implicitly suggests that they think humanity is evil unless reminded not to be. But why bother? While they’re swallowing up companies, they’re ensuring that most of humanity will never have any influence on the company’s direction. Their share price is at US$700 and has never been split. What average citizen can afford that? Why haven’t they split their share prices at least four or five times, like Microsoft did in the 1990s and no doubt IBM did in the 1980s? All three companies have been criticized for their acquisition trails in consecutive decades. However, when Google buys a company, they don’t hide the application somewhere in a more expensive software package like Microsoft did repeatedly. Instead, Google rebrands and then improves. You have to give them that.

Add to all this the “snitch on colleagues” campaign, and the fact that one of their representatives, SEO Matt Cutts, introduced it so casually on his blog and only answered the questions having easy answers – not the tough questions. Over at Performancing, my friend Ryan Caldwell asked the question: Is Matt Cutts the link nazi?

I think that’s a bit harsh because Matt’s only doing his job, albeit dictated by higher-ups at Google. But considering that most of my blogging colleagues give the same lament about not being able to communicate with Google, not getting a human answer to questions, being kept in the dark about so much of how Google does their business, etc., it makes me wonder if any other company could get away with all this.

Now, the net result of the pagerank and search rank changes this year is that my crappy, mostly image-only sites have shot up in daily pageviews and my more valuable sites are suffering. I hardly think that’s an improvement in terms of search relevance. What do you think?

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