Posted April 6, 2009 11:10 am by with 10 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

We live a world that talks about winners and losers all the time. Trouble is it’s OK to lose big because “Hey,google-2 we’re only human and we love to give second chances. Here, have a boatload of taxpayer money to pay your executives who don’t deserve it and have a nice day!” Meanwhile, when a company actually does well there are those to who simply can’t stand a winner that has earned its power. We citizens of the Internet world know that the biggest winner, and as a result the biggest target of haters, is Google.

I read a bit of a rant from a journalist over in the UK and I encourage you to do the same. It is likely to polarize readers pretty quickly. The author uses the following terms to describe the search giant:

  • WWM – World Wide Monopoly
  • A threat to the livelihood of individuals and the future of commercial institutions important to the community
  • A classic monopoly that destroys industries and individual enterprise in its bid for ever greater profits
  • Delinquent and sociopathic, perhaps the character of a nightmarish 11-year-old
  • Having a brattish, clever amorality

Well, you get the picture. He is apparently upset about how Google uses its weight to get things done. I can see how that is annoying in many cases but the name calling bit is kind of over the top don’t you think? In North Carolina where I live, if you said those kind of things about anyone you might hear a good ol’ fashioned “Them thar is fightin’ words!” I’m sure Google considers these kind of evaluations like that of a gnat and ignores them or swats them away. What’s interesting to me is that in this world, you can be successful but don’t you dare go past whatever standard of “enough is enough” that some group somewhere has established to fit their own agenda. We want success but if someone else gets it in a way that we don’t like we whine. You can only be as successful as I think you should be. Huh?

I see Google differently. Sure they’re the 900 pound gorilla. Sure there is a bit of bully in them. This bully however is created in many cases just from sheer size. Oh and by the way, they have competition. I look at search like the Big 3 for automobiles in the US. There are huge barriers to entry and the competition is not large in number due to the very nature of the business. Google, however, unlike the automakers who apparently have adopted the Three Stooges as their mascots, has simply done a better job at search than Yahoo, Microsoft, Wikia Search, Lycos, Alta Vista etc etc. by creating a product that helps people get more done at the time that it was needed. They have simply done a better job. Because of that they have won big.

Honestly, I wouldn’t have a business if Google hadn’t done what it has done. So as for the destruction of industries that is called progress. It’s called change. If there was nothing created as a result of the destruction then there is a problem. That’s not the case with the Internet though. The world economy is shifting and Google is helping it happen.

In this world of business, if you create a better mousetrap then you catch more mice. Google catches a lot of mice but they do a lot of good too. Last year, Google’s gift to me for the business I did with them was the chance to help out a local school through I have an incredible book of letters from kids who benefited from them “forcing me” to help. I would not have done this on my own. They could have sent me a box of t-shirts but no. They helped me to help someone. I am grateful and the kids were ecstatic. No mention of these kinds of things from Google haters is there?

I am not a Google apologist. They are far from perfect. We all are. I just don’t see the point in sitting around and wringing our hands about fairness. Nothing is completely fair. Why do we want it or expect it? Google does a pretty good job in making sense of the Internet for a lot of people. That is actually a good thing. Are they not supposed to make money along the way?

So where are you? Google hater, supporter or do you just tolerate them? Is Google a bully, an enabler or amoral? I bet you have an opinion so please join the discussion.

  • I completely agree with your views, Google isnt the evil, its just the best SE and rightly earned. I too would be without a business if Google didnt change user behavior on the net to the degree that it has.

    In terms of competition the author may be referring to UK competition though as Google literally dosent have any here. The new emerging markets will be interesting to track , there may be one that comes over from China or Russia and takes market share from the mighty G in the west. Not sure but interesting nonetheless.

    I would like to see the consumer action groups reaction to Google entering the behavioural ad market though. I think that may dent them a bit more.

  • Google is a near monopoly, that’s for sure and in spite of its main failings, it does have some positive points….! However, it is not the best search engine – it is the best we have at the moment. But prior to Google’s invention – and before Yahoo’s failings, the very early days of Yahoo were excellent. You had a human-edited search system which was extremely accurate and valuable. But they failed to keep pace with the exponential growth of the web and so Google was born. So, we now have a non-human indexing system that frequently gets it wrong – offering spammy sites as the No 1 result, for instance, or even offering web sites which no longer exist. Even so, it’s the best – of a bad bunch.

    That said, you are right that many businesses would not exist today if it had not been for Google. Equally, 10,000 people wouldn’t have a job with them either. So, it can hardly be described as something that has been all-bad.

    Even so, the failings that Guardian article outline are failings largely in the way we use Google and its associated services. For instance, Google itself is not a threat to commercial institutions – rather it’s the way those institutions use the Internet as a whole (or fail to use it – 25% of UK businesses still don’t have a web site, for instance….!)

    I would agree, though, that it is a brattish 11-year-old. The reason? As many ex-employees testify, it is “over engineered” – nothing can be done without evidence from data. The people running Google are mostly engineers, which breeds a cultural style of thinking within the organisation. “Prove it” is the underlying mantra of everything they do, according to ex-employees. And that’s precisely the way an 11-year-old child thinks. Tell an 11-year-old they can’t do something and they’ll want to know why and who are you to say so anyway?

    Ultimately Google will face competition and will lose its power. Businesses that have put all their eggs in the Google basket will risk failure as a result. Google isn’t doing evil – but evil will happen if we let it. In other words, it’s the way we respond to Google that matters – not what Google itself does.

  • My attitude on Google depends on what hat I’m wearing. As a user/consumer, I am a total Google fan. I agree 100% that the reason they are #1 is that they’ve simply made using the web an easier/more efficient experience. It stands to reason they’d draw in more users. To that end, a lot of their products/services are simply superior (and free), and what’s not to like about that?

    On the professional/marketing front, I always get the feeling Google has taken an “if you are not with us, you are against us” view, and I feel like that extends to agencies. I recall a previous firm I was with was attempting to develop a dash that combined multiple sources into one report for our client right before Google bought Urchin. Once that purchase went through and Google started issuing beta accounts for GA, even the way their reps treated us totally changed (when were spending millions upon millions in adwords on our clients’ behalf mind you). All of a sudden they weren’t as quick to train on products, they weren’t interested in us as a focus group etc. Yahoo and Microsoft were nothing like this, and they welcomed our product development. When I came to my current agency, it was night/day. Google works alongside our existing agency probably better than any agency I’ve been with (or in-house). Maybe that was just one experience, but I’ve heard similar things from other people as well.

    As a result of that, and some of their other practices (Adwords Professional, which is basically a small agency tax when it comes right down to it), I’ve felt like their position with agencies is more or less “Well, we’ll play nice since they aren’t going away, but only as long as whatever they do somehow feeds us”. I don’t begrudge them for wanting to make sure their partners goals are aligned with their own, but the minute you stray off into things that don’t provide a direct benefit to Google or (god forbid) develop anything that’s an alternative to a service of their own, they definitely behave much differently than the other engines do (at least in my experience).

  • Max Smith

    Google and other search engines put a lot of importance on online media reports. If a website was featured in, or other major online publications, it will rank much higher than the sites which have hundreds of link-farm-generated links. Does anybody know of a good list of PR firms specializing in online publicity? Publicity Guaranteed ( looks like an attractive option, as they only charge for the results, without any retainers or hourly rates; however they don’t do online-only publicity. seems to be the most comprehensive database of publicists and I posted there my RFP for publicists to bid on, but all resulting bids included traditional media. If I had a larger budget, I wouldn’t mind good coverage in traditional media, but I only seek publicity for my SEO campaign, so I need online publicity only

  • Well, I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding of what a monopoly is. If we are talking search market, I hardly find 65% or so for a service that is free the classic definition of a monopoly. That’s just a weird take on things. However, if you are talking about internet advertising, then maybe you are closer to the mark, but then again, there is plenty of competition on the search side (that damn 65% number). So I think MAYBE you could say Google is near a monopoly in CPM based display advertising, but that’s going a long way to finding a very specific subset of their business model, pulling it out by itself, just to claim a monopoly.

    Terry Howard’s last blog post..Social Media Marketing: Network Responsibly

  • Google is the biggest Search Engine in the UK – but only because they do it best. It’s as simple as that – to shoot a guy just because he’s good at what he does is stupid and a bit like an 11 year old sociopath…

  • There is a great and very applicable saying ‘IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM, JOIN THEM”

  • Malcolm

    There are some really good comments to this post and all and everyone have addressed good points.

    My job as a business consultant is to go in and find the tumor. Good, bad, evil, angel, monopoly or not … it doesn’t really matter and worst we can do is to allow emotions driving us in evaluating.

    Fact 1. Google uses its monopolized position to slowly let us feel who is rules the internet!
    Fact 2. Google doesn’t really care, because … what are you gonna do about it, if so?
    Fact 3. When looking at Google … Google, do your policies apply to the Non-Goolglers only?

    These facts should be enough for the public to realize in which direction the wagon rolls. Certainly not into the one it was pushed off at the beginning.

    Translating all this into politics? No problem, come next election time you will get our answer!
    Having the same situation in the business world? Competition. It’s the only answer and solution.

    Let’s just wait and see what the next competitor is going to give us. In the meantime, I guess we have to put up with 11 year old robotic arrogance having dictating us.

  • While Google has enabled the creation and growth of many businesses in the past they are also an enormous threat to their survival right now. I hope you’ll click through to read the post I linked to this comment about AdWords and subscribe so you can come back and read one I am currently researching about the dangers of their monopoly on search.

    CommentLuv did not pick it up even though I am a member and I did refresh the page. I put it in the regular URL box instead to ensure you can get to it. We welcome your comments and are a dofollow, CommentLuv, KeywordLuv blog.

    Internet Strategist’s last blog post..We Miss The Golden Days of the Internet – Pay Per Click Advertising Circa 2003

  • The idea that Google is successful because it provides a good product/service is almost right on the mark. But more and more people are using Google simply because they have associated its name — its _brand_ if you will, with Internet search, web advertising, and maps. When Google bought YouTube they didn’t change the name or merge it with GoogleVideo; why? Because they know that brand loyalty is what drove people to YouTube just like brand loyalty drives people to Google. In other words, more and more people are using Google because it is Google; it has become an unconscious habit rather than a conscious choice. While I enjoy YouTube, I stopped using Google because I was tired of all the commercial links and people fighting over placement links clogging up the first pages of my search. I now use smaller search engines that have less commercial junk in them; I find better results, and more unique results with smaller non-Google search engines.