Sorry For The Rant

Some may see this post as a rant, and to an extent it is.  However it reflects a feeling I have on many occasions and I am sure many others feel the same.  I will describe the trigger for this rant a little later in the post, but let us explore why anyone might be upset at some of the things that Google does.

Google Irritations

it is going to get worse

It is not difficult to find topics on which Google products generate often strong concerns.  You have for example Google Maps, which is notorious for having incorrect information.  In this part of the continent, the biggest boo-boo was the omission of the Golden Ears Bridge for almost twelve months after it was in operation.  However there are many other errors as can be seen by checking the Help Forum on Google Maps.

Nor are we talking about Google Street View with the privacy concerns that people have raised.  When it comes to even eavesdropping on broadband communications, it is not surprising that strong resentments are raised..

You also can get some off-the-wall products when you allow your engineers to pursue their own passions under that famous 20-percent time rule.

We offer our engineers "20-percent time" so that they are free to work on what they are really passionate about. Google Suggest, AdSense for Content and Orkut are among the many products of this perk.

Google Buzz was one of these frustrating diversions, which has not seemed to attract too many adherents.  This rant is not about one of these peripheral applications but relates instead to the very core of their principal business, Search.

What Is Wrong With Google Search

Google is continually making innovations in the way it displays search results.  One such was universal search where a request for a simple query might produce results not only ifrom regular web pages but also in news and in videos.  More recently it has changed the look of the search results pages quite dramatically with a three column layout.  It also is producing personalized results whereby no two people will necessarily get the same result when they do a keyword.  search.

None of these innovations are particularly irritating and indeed sometimes improve the value to the searcher.  What is irritating about Google search goes to the very heart of its algorithms.

Perhaps one of the three similar e-mails I received today can give you a clue on what is my main beef with Google.  This was the trigger that pushed me to write this post today, but it could have happened on many other days.  It started off as follows:

Dear Sir \ Madam,

We are a Delhi-NCR, India based, and leading web services company with main competency in link building.

We have a dedicated team of 30 professionals to serve you. We build the natural quality and theme based links as one-way or reciprocals links with our manual process. 

We always adopt the ETHICAL LINK building process/white hat technique; also follow the guidelines of Google and major search engine for SEO result.

Website theme doesn't matter for us, we can manage any theme, and currently we are running finance /Education / SEO/ IT/ Computer/ Gift/ law/ insurance/ Arts/ Casinos/ Automotive/Pet/ Travel and site etc.

We strictly work on performance basis and can assure you of getting quality links for your site as well. Our links building service will help to increase the link popularity of your website.

What we are dealing with here are spam messages from self-styled link experts.

The Link Industry

The actions of Google have indeed created a whole new industry.  Many people now believe that the rule for getting higher rankings in Google search results are to have as many links as possible to your website.  To meet this new demand, some webmasters even create web directories to multiply up the linking possibilities.

Given that it is tedious work, a whole new set of link experts have emerged to handle these dissatisfying chores.

How Did Google Create This Link Industry?

This link industry is very much a Google creation, even though they might wish it were not so.  PageRank, which they have promoted strongly as the defining principle of their search approach, is boosted by having more inlinks to a web page.  Unfortunately Google has compounded the problem by being somewhat mysterious about how exactly links may influence PageRank calculations.  They defend their approach by indicating that to reveal too much information could cause some to take actions to ensure that their Web pages rank higher than they deserve, given their content. 

This lack of clarity has had an unfortunate effect.  There is a prevailing view that any link is worth something, provided it does not come from a bad neighborhood.  There are as a result many people who would give credence to the arguments presented in the e-mail message above.  If anything the situation seems to get worse and worse. 

The result is a lose / lose / lose proposition for all.  The search engines have difficulty distilling the useful, original content websites from the hordes of websites created purely to generate extra links.  Reputable SEO advisors are presented with new challenges in trying to persuade their clients that many links do not justify any efforts in trying to establish them.  Thirdly searchers may well find that keyword searches produce less relevant results with this mounting tide of irrelevant rubbish.

Google Should Clean Up Its Mess

Since this intolerable situation has been created by Google, it is not unreasonable that they should attempt to clean up the mess. 

make a mess clean it up

Google maintains an aura of mystery around its methodology so it is difficult for others to comment.  However the following proposal is offered as a way of trying to give a very clear message that this ever increasing plethora of links is valueless and people should spend no time or effort on them.

The key element in the proposal is a two-step process for handling the PageRank component of the Google algorithm.

  • Step 1:  Calculate PageRank for all links as at present.
  • Step 2:  In the Google algorithm, a Modified PageRank should be used.  For all links with a PageRank value below a certain cut-off value, the Modified PageRank would be set at 0.  In effect such links are valueless in terms of PageRank contribution for the algorithm.

Clearly this proposal is made without detailed knowledge of the algorithmic mechanisms that Google is using and so may not be applicable.  However it may be that with such knowledge an alternative approach can be derived that delivers the same effect.  The effect required is that the vast proportion of links have zero value in terms of the algorithm.

In all probability, nothing of value would be lost in this approach.  Authoritative links that had attracted a significant amount of PageRank would not be affected.

Google Should Publicize This New Search Basis Widely

If Google can implement a scheme whereby only authoritative links are taken into account in the algorithm, then this is something that should be publicized strongly.  The effect on search results is also likely to be positive, but the main effect would be the removal of those who attempt to sell massive link building services.

At the same time Google could also stop showing the toolbar PageRank, which seems to have few positive attributes and many negative effects.  This too would help to suppress the linking spam agents.

While it is in a clean-up frame of mind, it might even consider removing the "I'm feeling lucky" button on its classical search page since this is very rarely used by anyone.  However since it seems to be part of the corporate psyche, its removal is perhaps no more likely than Google accepting the main proposal here to deal with spammy links.