Google Plays Favorites, Pisses Everyone Off. Again.

July 22, 2011
By Lisa Barone in SEO

For all the genius minds working over at Google and with reports that company profits are higher than ever, Google needs to go acquire two very important things:

  1. A double dose of common sense
  2. The life lessons one is supposed to acquire in kindergarten

And they need to do it ASAP because it seems the rocket scientists at Google are fresh out of both.

Earlier this week while the “experts” were working on their 200-page Google+ eBooks and charging folks for educational webinars on a 3-week old product, I cautioned readers against leaping into something that wasn’t fully developed yet. I commented that it wouldn’t be Facebook or Twitter or any other social entity that crushed Google, but that it would be Google that crushed Google. If you’ve been in search for any extended period of time, you know that Google has a really bad habit of getting in its own way to the tune of disastrous problems.

And, well, here we are again. A complete Internet shit storm as a result of Google being Google.

Well done!

When Google+ first launched, there was no provision made for of mention of Google+ Brand pages. However, there was a natural expectation that, at some point, brands would be able to participate. Especially for those brands who had been part of Google Buzz or for anyone who has been on the Internet the past year and watched Google promote Google Place Pages as if their life (or bonuses) depended on it.

This is not a new road. In fact, it’s a road Google arguably dug out and paved for us. So when Google+ launched, brands hopped on.

It wasn’t until a week later that it was hinted that official Google+ Brand pages would be coming later and a statement was released asking business owners to hold off on creating these accounts.

But the accounts had already been created. No problem, really. Google will just suspend them. No major harm, no major foul.

Until Google decided to play favorites. Again.

While brands like Search Engine Land and Sesame Street (dude!) lost their respective brand pages, some brands got their previously-shut-down pages restored. Ford saw their Google+ Brand Page given back, while Mashable received what Danny Sullivan referred to as a “wink wink nude nudge workaround” which allowed them to “rebrand” the Mashable Google+ Page as Pete Cashmore’s.

Only problem. Pete Cashmore already had a Google+ Page. So now he has two.

And this is around the time that the Internet lost its shit.

Google was not only applying different rules for different people, they were smacking us in the face with it. And like the rest of us learned in kindergarten, that’s not allowed.

So the Internet placed Google in time out.

Dear Google, may I suggest you put DOWN the bloody dagger before you do more harm?

There are two main issues here:

1. Google should have known better

Google+ may be new around here, but Google is not. They understand how this works because, for all intents and purposes, they created the rules for the kingdom. Actually, they may have also created the damn kingdom. Business Google+ pages were obviously something users would want, would create, and would sneak in – so there should have been a provision made for them at start. Or, if they wanted to delay the release, that should have been stated up front. And when they found business pages being created, they should have nuked them. All of them. Not just the pages that weren’t created by a company that’s CEO could secretly double as an underwear model.

2. Google has zero people skills

One of Google’s core company values seems to be to create a hierarchy that pits people against one another and inspires bad behavior. Google has a long history of treating big brands differently than the little guy whether we’re talking about:

  • Cloaking vs IP detection
  • Incentivized reviews (free Google phone anyone?)
  • Paid links

Google creates one set of rules for us normal folk and then a different set of rules for The Special People. The result of this, of course, is that they piss off everyone else in the process and they create a spirit of “whatever it takes” where we’re all encouraged to act like drug-fueled animals in search of our next fix, exploiting the loopholes and trying to “level the playing field” by doing things we’d never admit to our mother.

Google, want to know why there’s so much spam and bad behavior in search?

It’s because you created it and you created it with moves just like this one.  Moves where your bad planning results in even worse reactionary behavior.

I think I speak for most of us when I say that I don’t care so much what rules Google puts in place. I don’t care if I have to wait three months to get a Google+ Business Profile. I don’t care if there’s a mandatory penalty I have to suffer if I’m caught buying links. I just want that to apply to everyone. Or, if it’s not going to apply to everyone, I want to at least not be hit over the head with the injustice.

We don’t need a reason to dislike Pete Cashmore and his company Mashable. He’s pretty. We already don’t like him. So giving him a placeholder for the soon-to-be-allowed Mashable Google+ account is a douche move.

Figure out what you’re doing. And then do it. Consistently. For everyone. Because when you pick favorites, you piss off the entire Internet and make a giant mess that you’re not going to be able to clean up. Remember? You’ve done this before. You’ve done it repeatedly.

Right now Google+ is gaining users and just may be on its way to mainstream user adoption. But not if you stab yourself in the face before it happens. Now put down the knife before you hurt someone.


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