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Is Google Vulnerable?

Is Google Vulnerable?

Fonzie on water skis, in a scene from the Happ...
Fonzie on water skis, in a scene from the Happy Days episode “Hollywood, Part Three of Three,” after literally jumping over a shark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Google has been a darling of the Internet since it’s launch in 1998. Innovative, slick, smart, easy, and relevant. Google worked hard to make the Internet a better place and has succeeded largely offering many free products for webmasters to improve the user experience of everyone using the Internet.

Despite the obvious search bar on their homepage, Google’s real business is advertising.

Google doesn’t want you paying for links, they want you buying AdWords. Duh. You can’t get keyword traffic for your own site unless you pay for it now. It’s not about privacy, it’s about money.

If there was a big box that everyone put their wishes and desires into, you can bet that there would be some deeply held secrets and other private information. Google knows what people want. That’s what a search engine is.

Seth Godin pretty much nails it, Google has jumped the shark.

These places don’t run out of creativity. You don’t jump the shark because you’re empty, you do it because there’s pressure to be greedy.

Google has been found to have hacked and stolen user data, circumventing privacy settings. They’ve recently announced that without asking first or sharing the upside, they may be selling the names and faces of people who use Google + to advertisers, to be included in endorsement ads. People expressing themselves online might soon find themselves starring in ads as unpaid, unwilling endorsers.

Google hasn’t stopped innovating, it’s true. They have a lot at stake when it comes to their userbase. If the NSA made similar threats against Google as they did against Lavabit there were probably a couple of managers at Google who were concerned about going to jail.

Google has always held a mantra, “Don’t be evil.” Evil is not a concept that is easily defined and if pressed I’m sure that someone could make an argument that evil is exactly what surveillance and PRISM is meant to stop. On the other hand you cannot ignore that this was done in secret.

There is no reason to hide your good works.

Google has been stained by the NSA scandal, even if most people don’t care and keep using it. It’s not as though the NSA was the only scandal to confront Google: wiretapping (Gmail & Streetview car WiFi sniffing), privacy concerns, anti-trust, etc.

The issue is that Google is vulnerable. They are vulnerable because they got away from their core principles and let their users surveilled. People are really starting to realize that Google’s main interest is selling ads and products. They don’t care about your right to own your own content if they can sell it as an advertisement.

The company’s that have a leg up in the search world have their own devices to deliver their results on. Android phones and tablets, Windows Phone, Surface, XBox, and Kindle are all able to deliver results from their own network. It’s the truth to the joke, who uses Bing? Someone who can’t change their default browser.

Search isn’t easy, it’s tough to balance commercial interests and search quality. It was the ending to Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s dissertation. That conflict has always been known. But as that veil gets lifted, how long until Amazon or Apple come up with a search engine to compete with Google?

They both have the devices and users built in. Amazon has result near the top of Google for almost any product search I’ve ever done. And their site search is pretty good. Apple Maps is a hot mess, Apple probably doesn’t have the chops to pull off a great search engine. I’m basing this solely on iTunes store. And that was when Steve Jobs was alive.

Google’s brand is so strong. They are synonymous with search the way Xerox is with photocopying. Can’t imagine that if Xerox handed over your copies to the NSA that we would still use them, but based on Google’s continued search traffic maybe they would.

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Kyle Alm

Kyle Alm is CEO and founder of SEO Bandwagon, developing and executing online marketing strategies beyond Search Engine Optimzation for Fortune 500 companies, Mom & Pop businesses, and non-profit organizations.

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