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Is Google Making It Harder To Run A Successful Business Online?

Posted by bryan on December 21, 2010 in E-Business, E-Commerce, Flash, HTML, Multimedia with No Comments

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Google 的貼牌冰箱(Google refrigerator)

Google refrigerator (Photo credit: Aray Chen)

Ok, despite similar accusations of monopoly attempts and/or info theft from the likes of Washington Post, NY Times, Reuters, TechCrunch, ZDnet and others; Google-bashing seems like the thing to do. I’m certainly guilty of writing yet another sensationalist and wildly accusing title pitting Google’s ever-encroaching yet seemingly undefined business model, against their supposedly well-defined “don’t be evil” motto.

Seriously though, we’re feeling this one at BCmoney all the way to the bank. Take a look at some of our latest monthly traffic logs from Google’s Index web crawler:

The growth in the size and frequency of visits by the Googlebot spider is starting to possibly interfere with regular traffic, and certainly seems excessive, when technically speaking they shouldn’t have to go much further than visiting the first few kb of any page on the BCmoney site, which has a page-rank of 4.

Suspicious indeed. Maybe the index is beginning to store more than just a matrix of terms and keyword results, but in fact complete unlawful mirrors. Maybe not that much data, but the new snapshot feature already has the blogosphere on fire with titles like Is Google Stealing Your Content and Hijacking Your Traffic.

So what do you think? Is Google turning into the tech monopoly they once publicly denounced and prosecuted. More than even the most hardcore Googlers, we want to consider Google a friend and ally with many great web services and tools available to small businesses. But with seemingly anti-competitive activities like their recent Net Neutrality flip-flop, oddly aggressive acquisitions of late, infamous foul-ups, forays into any and every e-business industry, curious quotes and alleged ties to the CIA, they are making it not only tough but downright scary for the little guy to both compete as a business or enjoy some level of control of their information and privacy.

Here’s hoping that the world’s largest scope creep (i.e. the project to build a better search engine) doesn’t end in heartbreak and tragedy for the loyal Googlers and (at least at the time of this writing) the larger web users of the world. In the meantime, as it all plays out, maybe we can at least send Google our bills for the portion of monthly traffic Googlebot chews through, because AdSense unfortunately isn’t covering the hosting bills for us yet after running a “below-the-fold” trial site-wide since November.

So, lets summarize the Pros & Cons of the currently undisputed champion in e-Business:

  • 44% – Prefer Google… arguably still the best, most relevant search results of any search engine (even China agrees, despite its net censorship efforts).
  • $184 million – Through its non-profit charitable giving/research arm, Google gives generously to a large number of charities worldwide every year. In general, Sergey Brin has committed 1% of annual profits and equity annually.
  • Google Summer of Code – The company supports many open source, academic and small business research projects every year through this outreach project.
  • AdWords – Ad listings reach a larger audience and become active faster than ever before with traditional media advertising. Ad text benefits from being incredibly easy to change and will be reflected in real-time, something not possible with traditional ad systems. Ads can also enhance a user’s experience when they are relevant, but can distract when they are not, or just be plain creepy if they are too accurate.
  • Convenience – The ability to share information in real-time through the web is enabled through many great Google service offerings, including:
    1. Google Books & Scholar (books/magazines and journals)
    2. Google Docs & Spreadsheets (office documents)
    3. Google Translate (text translation)
    4. Google Maps (directions & location look-up)
    5. YouTube (videos and music)
    6. Picasa & Google Image search (photos)
    7. Blogger (self-publishing)
    8. AppEngine (application hosting)

    Last but certainly not least, it seems that now even searching the web has become far more instantaneous than ever before using basic web search enhancements courtesy of the new Google Instant and/or Google Realtime interfaces.

  • ~75% – With such a high percentage of the search market, it’s reasonable to see monopoly concerns popping up in governments and industries all over the world, as Google becomes the “gateway” to the world’s information
  • $1.6 Billion – In 2010, they bought up and/or folded a large number of innovative competitors through increasingly aggressive M&A, but failed to integrate or otherwise make use of many of them (leading some to speculate they were “Microsoft-style get out of our way” strategic acquisitions)
  • Energy Consumption – Despite some interesting Green IT investments, Google is a well-known major energy hog. They seem to be actively working to turn this one around though, so hopefully it works out since saving on energy expenses should make them more profitable in the long-run.
  • AdWords – The company has failed to address some major problems with the way ads get slotted and displayed in their bread & butter advertising product. To be fair these are tough problems, including: Quality Score deciding what companies should pay for popular terms/phrases, the Bidding system for specific yet less-frequently searched terms/phrases, Ad relevance on generic queries like “national debt” for which there are many possible sites of interest, using mainly CTR to gauge performance & determine price does not increase relevance of ads on user queries).
  • Privacy – The company’s stance, cemented by comments from CEO Eric Schmidt seems to be: “you shouldn’t care about privacy unless you have something to hide”. It shouldn’t be necessary to trade privacy for convenience on the web though, so Google needs to do more to protect consumers’ privacy, in addition, they could stop changing their “terms of use” and make it clear what data they collect, how it is used and how long it is stored.


Google is definitely good (at much of what it does), but seems to be trying way too hard to attain greatness (at the expense of users’ privacy and detably the existence of many small businesses). After 12 years of success online, they’ve learned to take the criticism in stride and continue to innovate or incorporate innovative companies into their service offerings. In our humble opinion though, the sooner they re-focus on doing what they do best, which is offering excellent value through their search and advertising products, the better.