Addressing the Google Conspiracy: Google Favoring Its Own Products Won’t Last

Recently I’ve written several guest posts on this conspiracy theory that many SEO strategists have about the way Google has been updating its search results. It is widely believed that Google’s search engine updates are designed specifically for two purposes:

  • To force more people to use their products.
  • To force more people to use Google Adwords.

There are two beliefs, but people promote them both in tandem. The first is that many of the updates (both Google Panda and Google Penguin) – especially the way that Google has been rewarding Google+ users – are focused solely on making Google’s social media site and Google’s other promotional tools more important than other tools created by other companies.

The other is that many of the changes are making it harder for new websites and smaller websites to compete in Google search engines so that they’re forced to purchase Google Adwords. The belief is that Google is intentionally making it harder so that more people use their Adwords services.

These have been argued by a lot of small business owners – each of whom were affected by the Panda and Penguin updates – and it’s one of the most popular discussions in SEO forums.

Is the Change Real?

I’ve waited to comment on this conspiracy on the Great Leap website because I was hoping to create a more substantial post, but recent questions have pushed this into the limelight. My belief is the following:

  • Yes, I think it is obvious that Google is rewarding companies that use their products for marketing, especially Google+.
  • Yes, I believe it’s possible that Google is changing search engine algorithms so that worse websites need to pay for Adwords.
  • No, I do not think any of these changes matter, nor are they going to last.

It’s that latter point that is key. I do believe that Google has been making some recent changes to further their own product use goals. But I also believe that the changes are not only limited – they’re also unlikely to last.

Why the Google Conspiracy is True and Won’t Matter

The best way to understand why Google won’t go through with these changes is to understand what they do to their search engines and products. Let’s look at the following consequences should Google go through with the changes that SEO strategists believe they’re going to do:

  • Google Search Will Be Worse:

First and foremost, if Google really does stop rewarding websites without the marketing budget or size of other websites, then Google search will be worse. Much worse. Already Google is starting to lose some popularity because their search isn’t actually generating the results that people are looking for. It’s not just a commercial – people really are starting to choose Bing over Google (in my opinion, this is because Google ranks things like forums too highly, but we’ll save that for another post). If they go through with these changes, good websites that happen to be small will be replaced with:

  • Bad websites that use Google products.
  • Bad websites that paid for Adwords
  • Bad websites that happen to be large.
  • Good websites that are large.

Only the last one is something that Google wants. The algorithm needs to bring up the websites that best match the user’s search query, and if it doesn’t do that, Google search will lose its popularity dramatically.

  • Google Could Have Legal Ramifications

I said for a long time that if Google decided to start rewarding people that use its service or punish websites for not paying for Adwords, there would be legal ramifications. Well, it looks like I was right. From the New York Times:

The government’s escalating pursuit of Google is the most far-reaching antitrust investigation of a corporation since the landmark federal case against Microsoft in the late 1990s. The agency’s central focus is whether Google manipulates search results to favor its own products, and makes it harder for competitors and their products to appear prominently on a results page.

That didn’t take long. Google provides a service that is too valuable, and makes it extremely difficult for others to compete with them. If they also start favoring their own products and forcing people to pay for their products, they were risking legal action, and it looks like the government is about to take that action.

  • Google Still Needs an Algorithm

Finally, the theory that a lot of website owners are claiming is that Google has punished their high quality websites and is rewarding low quality websites. But this wouldn’t make sense even if Google was forcing their products on people. Google still needs search results to claim they have a search engine, and there is no benefit to Google in rewarding bad websites with low quality content and punishing good websites. That would make Google useless as a search engine, and Google is far too smart to ever make themselves useless.

Chances are the websites that were punished after Google Panda and Penguin had reasons for their punishment – for example, websites with a keyword domain name (like “www.SEO-Writers-in-City-State.com”) are no longer valued as highly as they once were for that domain name, and so companies that were initially rewarded had that reward revoked. That doesn’t mean the website was bad, but it also doesn’t mean that Google is punishing websites for quality content. They simply took away a reward.

The Future of SEO and Content Writing

There are certainly some changes that Google has made that indicate they’re trying to get their products ahead of others. Google+ was a prime example. because users of its product appeared to be receiving credit in Google search results. But the reality is that even if Google is making these changes, they’re both unlikely to last, and they don’t affect the future of content and marketing. In the off chance that Google does decide to go through with this proposed conspiracy, it’s far more likely to lose searchers to Bing and Yahoo! than it is to change the future of search.

Companies that continue to invest in high end content are going to continue to see results, and Google itself is too smart a company to make their own search engine algorithm ineffective.