Warning : Conspiracy theories ahead.
Google has done it again. Just today, I discovered they have banned a specific keyword in Google Trends because it was being used to estimate search volume of other keywords. This makes me, as the Cheshire cat would say, vaguely discombobulated.
On the surface, the problem might be seen the way it is sometimes stated by (some) SEOs trying to justify themselves – “Google creates new markets and tools. Then it does it’s best to stop us from competing in those markets and using those tools, calling us blackhats or spammers.” The righteous do-gooders would quickly point out that no-one is “entitled” to the right to abuse poor Google’s services for personal gain. Words like “manipulation” and “amoral” would be thrown around, disregarding the fact that the line between “optimization” and “manipulation” is entirely subjective/philosophical, with judgement often being based not on the observed action, but on the assumed intention. Thought crime, anyone?
This, however, leaves me wondering – does the saying “don’t attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity” also work in reverse?
Consider the following scenarios :
- Google creates a way to find links pointing to a page (link:). Evil SEOs abuse this tool that obviously was intended only for casual use by bus drivers. Google forced to make the tool provide unreliable and useless results.
- Evil SEOs use information about the supplemental index to build better models of Google’s algorithms and find out which pages need more optimization. Google forced to hide supplementals, eventually claims they don’t exist.
- … [Nofollow. Paid link scare. Forbidden keywords on AdWords. Etc.] …
- Google truly believes most humans are pure-heart altruists who would not exploit [service] for personal gain. Google forced to amend it’s algorithms to compensate for the harsh reality.
One thing we know for sure about Google is they’re not stupid. This fact, combined with the above list, makes for some really good conspiracy theory material. What if Google choose to leave some exploitable algorithms unfixed (and they do, or there would be zero results for “buy viagra”) because they count on it being exploited. What if the fact that blackhat SEOs exploit certain “algorithm flaws” is convenient to use as propaganda, or as an excuse to implement new restrictions, or maybe as a core argument in an emotionally charged article promoting Google’s attempts to regulate the content and structure of the web?
Could it not be a Xanatos gambit of sorts?
All of this is, of course, purely theoretical. My actual views are not nearly that extreme. However, keep one thing in mind – just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you 😉Related posts :