Google Mayhem

In some corners, you’d have been forgiven if you thought that somehow Google controlled the stock market today. There was so much activity, the appearance of panic, and lots of swear words uttered and being typed out as people watched almost as if watching a stock market ticker tape, the weird results Google was pumping out in some of its searches.

I myself have seen some really strange results over the past few weeks. While Google has been going on about quality – well, they might want to take a look at themselves a little deeper. Seriously. If I do a search on the term ‘fly fishing’ – I don’t think I’d be expecting to see “The Flying Fish Restaurant” – an establishment that has nothing to do with the sport of fly fishing – highly ranked for that term. That is something one might have expected in the old Alta Vista and HotBot days, but hasn’t Google supposedly matured search so it returns more relevancy? Sometimes… and quite often, not.

To give Google credit, The Flying Fish Restaurant seems to have disappeared from the search results for the search phrase ‘fly fishing’, but still, some of the higher rankings are a bit skewed in my opinion. If I’m searching for ‘fly fishing rods’, I’d expect branded results to be highly ranked – but searching the more generic phrase of ‘fly fishing’, I’m expecting general information and articles about the sport. If I’m an angler that has never done any fly fishing before, and want to learn more about it, getting results that include different manufacturers fly rods isn’t helping me.

I could go on and on about some other similar weird search results, but those that know me, know fly fishing is one of my passions, and easy to talk about.

But there was more today.

Wil Reynolds of the highly respected SEM firm, Seer Interactive, had totally lost ranking for a search on their brand. My own quick search found them on Page 3 near the bottom of both Google.COM and Google.CA.  What was that all about? Lots of comments, suggestions, musings, and discussion – with some others offering to help out if they could which was nice to see.

Subsequent to all of this, remember the case study I referred to about Negative SEO and it’s possibilities? It involved Dan Thies and I believe two of his websites. Well… the results are intriguing. Here’s the report and the discussion that followed, with Dan Thies also jumping in and suggesting some things.

What’s one to do right now? Well, I’m reminded of some very good advice given to me by a good friend a couple of years ago, that when things get all weird, “Be like an Eagle.” I didn’t quite understand it at first, but essentially – what does an eagle often do? It sits.. and watches… and watches.. and watches. It doesn’t react to the first ruffling of grass it sees – but takes everything all in.

Many people depend on Google at this point for their livelihoods, but Google does not care about that. The company claims that it wants to provide “value” to its users, and has become so ubiquitous, that most of its users “think” they are getting the best value from Google. Those of us who watch and experiment know this is not always the case.

I believe Google has become too big for it’s own boots. In wanting to be all and everything to it’s users, it has really forgotten what it was once very good at, and in trying to “correct” some things, has actually hurt quite a bit of what they were once known for doing well. There seems to an almost sort of “pompous” attitude from Google; they provide some “direction” on what they want to see, yet when you deliver that, it is not what you end up being rewarded for. Then they try to “correct” their own mistakes and take out so many others without apology for the collateral damage that has been done.

Sure, I believe in free markets, and I don’t want to see anyone regulating Google. And they are right, it is their search engine and they are free to do with it as they will. I absolutely agree with that. At the same time, I absolutely agree that they need to be held accountable by their users and the very people that use their services, click on the ads they serve up that helps to finance their gig.

In my opinion, they have become no different than any other big corporation that says, “Trust us. Here’s how we will help you” and then when you complain, they reply, ” “. Yes, with nothing… and this continued attitude by Google will only see them lose their search market as others discover new competition that recognizes the fears people have and the fact Google is perhaps becoming too complicated in their algorithms for their own, and their users good.

Yes, it’s been an interesting day in search engine land. Google should be careful – too many of these types of days means more promotion of other search engines such as http://duckduckgo.com (in spite of its funny name).

Don’t forget, Google was once a “new kid on the block” too.