I’ve been running a web development firm since January 1999.  Google and my firm were born a few months from each other.  By chance, I began tracking Google’s rise shortly after its appearance, noting the efficacy of its search perimeters along with that of its competition.

Though Google was a very powerful tool early in its career, that muscular efficiency has diminished.  That seems due to several factors.

Those folks whose job it is to figure out how Google works to achieve higher rankings often performed their job well, depreciating the searches that Google offered.  Corporations able to pay the most money for professional optimizers tended to get the highest rankings.  Google’s results often showed which firms had the most resources to pay for position.  Google’s algorithms could not distinguish value from money.

Still, if you typed in “Chicago photographer,” you got a list of Chicago photographers on the first page, individuals seeking to sell their services to searchers looking for what photographers had to offer.  That is not the case now.

Google decided to go public in 2004.  On November 15, 2004, they enacted the first of several major algorithm changes, pushing many of the optimized sites from top positions, penalizing websites for using techniques that gamed Google’s evaluation algorithm.  The result was an overnight tripling of Google revenues.  Corporations and businesses formerly paying optimizers for high rankings to appear on the first page of a search were forced to pay Google for their ranking, on the right side of the screen, where Google sold ads.

It became in Google’s best interest that searchers looking for commercial products or services NOT find what they were looking for so that the Google advertising section would profit from the click.

It was clear to me that in preparation for going public, Google was actually seeding its searches with inefficiencies in order to encourage profits.  Regarding commercial searches, it’s only got worse with time.  By embedding top 10 positions with Wikipedia entries, videos and other tangentially related content, commercial businesses continue to be pushed into the second page, forced to pay Google for ad space.

I recently read that Google has decided to place a heavier emphasis on “brand” or conventional corporate websites when deciding how to rank.  It is adjusting its algorithm to make it even more difficult for those businesses without deep pockets to achieve rankings.  One could call this the new oligarchic algorithm.

As a small web developer seeking rankings for small, local businesses, I find the decisions that Google has made over the years have been sometimes fair, sometimes selfish, sometimes in between.  The trend has been toward depreciating its mission of providing useful searches in order to make money while encouraging the corporate status quo.

This has been a particular problem for local businesses seeking business using the Google Ad Words program, where Google derives most of its revenue.  In the next posting, I will explain how Google’s alliances with other large corporations are resulting in a crushing increase of advertising costs to local small businesses.


Name (required)

Email (required)


Share your wisdom