Why We Need an Over-Monopolisation Penalty for Google

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Over Optimization

Lately Google spokesperson Matt Cutts has been scaring website owners and business people all over the world with an so called “over-optimisation” update for too much SEO. I have written about this upcoming update already elsewhere.

Here I want to point out that the so called over-optimisation is not the main problem we face as Google users today. It’s just a smokescreen to hide the real issue:

The Google monopoly.

In most countries worldwide Google dominates the search market by an overwhelming margin.

As most people use Google to inform themselves about anything and everything Google effectively controls the access the the global information. Only a few countries like China or Russia have been able to sustain a Google competitor.

In the UK, France or Germany Google has more than 90 or even 95% of the search market under their control.

To be on Google or not to be

You don’t exist on Google you don’t exist on the Web. It’s that simple by now for most of us. Not even thousands of Facebook friends can bring you the targeted traffic that search engines offer or used to as now there is basically only one of them. There are other ones but people apparently choose to use Google instead. No problem. Everybody is happy aren’t they? No.

Google is under heightened anti-trust scrutiny both in the US and the EU for more than a year by now.

One of the most often raised concerns by their competitors is that Google favors their own properties in search results.

You can test yourself. Indeed I did on Google.com – Many advanced users throughout the world use Google.com in order to get untainted English language results and not just the local sites. Google localises search results so that UK search users get results from Great Britain, Canadians from Canada, Australians from Australia etc.

Searching Google to find Google

So when testing these search queries you might find different sites than I do especially in case you use a local Google version like Google.co.uk. Nonetheless I’d like to show you what I find when I search Google.com for

  • images – Google Images
  • maps – Google Maps
  • videos – Google Videos
  • news – Google News
  • shopping – Google Product Search
  • blogs – Google Blog Search
  • books – Google Blogs

So you see what I find on top of each of those search results: Google’s own properties. I also want to stress what I do not find on #1 or sometimes not even in the top 10.

When I search for images I’d expect Flickr, the Yahoo owned image community somewhere on top. Flickr is not even in the top 10.

Does Google favors search in search results then? Let’s see, when I search for blogs I’d expect the Technorati blog search engine somewhere on top then. They are at #5 here.

Remember that the number one in Google’s search results get approx. 40% of all clicks while number 7 may get around 2- 3%.

When I search for books I’d expect Amazon to be #1 but of course Google Books is more relevant, isn’t it? Amazon is at #2 and #3 allright. On four I get the Google supported Wikipedia that explains what a book is in case I didn’t know or forgot.

Are you really sure you don’t want to use our own service?

You may have noticed by now that I have chosen the menu items Google shows in their sidebar once you search for something to prove my point.

Why do I get served another Google search service when I search “everything” instead of choosing one of the options in the menu?

When I search for blogs on “everything” Google is still not convinced that I want everything and wants me to search on Google Blog search instead?

Btw. what’s number three after Wikipedia when I search for [blogs]? Blogger. Another Google owned service! Where is WordPress? WordPress.com? At #5 WordPress.org? Not in the top 10. Where is Tumblr? Not on the first page.

I could go on like that for a while. In short: I am not convinced that Google’ own services are the most relevant results for each and every of these queries. Have you noticed the Google domination as well?

Personally I think that we need an over-monopolisation penalty for Google. Scape-goating the SEO industry is a cheap trick to divert attention.

* Creative Common image by Scott Reader.