Shortly after finishing the website, I signed on a couple of development customers. My best intentions of posting more often were quickly overrun with my two projects, but the effort was well worth it. Both projects are near completion and I have 2 new happy customers.

So now that I have a couple of minutes, I would like to discuss something that has been on every web professionals mind over the past several days; the Google algorithm “tweak” that has targeted “content farms”.

I find myself very conflicted over this news, and the subsequent consequences for many sites that I consider to be legitimate sources of information (Demand Media and Huffington Post, for example). On the one hand, content spammers give SEO and SEM professionals like us a bad name, and I was stunned at how quickly my site was targeted by those wishing to post totally unrelated linkback comments on my site. I completely respect that Google has a right to protect their brand. When I perform a search, I enjoy seeing the most relevant sites near the top of the list, and I also appreciate that Google handles a tremendous amount of information and that they can’t catch everything. They needed to automate this process at least partially in order to keep up with the thousands of spammers and black hat SEO’s out there.

What bothers me though is that Google also appears to be judge, jury, and in some cases executioner in these matters, and that they have an increasing amount of control over the success or failure of a business’s advertising campaign. In particular, I have grown extremely frustrated with Google and their local marketing products. They are pushing them hard lately, but provide almost no support for them, and will manipulate customer listings at will with no warning whatsoever. Often those manipulations are erroneous and cause incorrect addresses or phone numbers to show up on listings, which can devastate a small business. Worse still is when a business tries to report the issue, Google can take MONTHS to respond.

I agree with Spiderman; with great power comes great responsibility. While Google strives to deliver relevant, quality content, they damage some legitimate content creators. Is an algorithm really the answer? Would a community controlled solution have been a better option? Something with a human element that would be better able to distinguish the scammers from the real deals? Does Google need to bite the bullet and hire a few more help desk people to resolve the support issues that their products are suffering from? I don’t think Google’s attitude of “it’s free, so deal with it” is going to work much longer. All of us that use their free services also create the traffic that Google makes their living off of. They wouldn’t have a 68% market share if it wasn’t for us…

So what say you public? What do you think of the changes Google has made? Discuss!

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