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Google’s Gray Areas Get Shadier

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Google has projected an image of corporate spotlessness over the years that is becoming increasingly, well, spotted. The company has grown up, you could say, and has lost much of its innocence down the pockets of shareholders, while its idealistic founders pursue more amusing things than evil, or its lesser cousins.

Google's Gray Areas Get Shadier
Google’s Gray Areas Get Shadier

Gray areas are where Google seems to prefer these days rather than the messy business of tiptoeing black and white ethical lines. Our first great disillusionment came when Google bent its philosophy just enough – when evil became suddenly a more "fluid" concept – to accept China’s demands to censor search results.

Of course we saw that coming because there was sufficient grayness for Google to frolic in; some search is better than no search. And we also had a feeling that as share prices went up, more often the weight of certain values would go down. It seems the natural process of things.

Not that the company has done anything especially nasty, and quite a bit of good has been done along the way to even out any karmic concerns. And we can hope at least that continues.

But when Google bought DoubleClick, there was something largely overlooked. With DoubleClick also came a company called Performics, a search engine optimization company. The astute ones of course did notice and posed their questions. Google responded to them in turn, saying they had no plans to shake loose the potential conflict of interest.

Scott BureshAnd no one’s accused them of ill-doing in relation to Performics – just some hypocrisy. Earlier this week, Scott Buresh at Search Engine Guide highlights how Google doesn’t back its own corporate talking points.

Google’s Webmaster Central doesn’t define "relationships" other than to say the company doesn’t have any with SEOs, and advises that if webmasters choose to have such relationships, they should be wary of crooks. If "unsatisfied for any reason" with an SEO, Google advises that webmasters "should insist on a full and unconditional money-back guarantee."

Which is something Performics doesn’t offer, notes Buresh. "Let’s be charitable and assume that in the heat of the acquisition Google has forgotten to update the page of advice that it has created for website owners."

But wait, the gray gets darker. Buresh points us to an earlier article where he claims the biggest Google advertisers have direct access to Google engineers as a "perk":

"It has long been rumored that Google will offer technical assistance in achieving better organic search engine placement to those who spend more for paid search results. I know for certain that these rumors are true in at least two instances. In fact, I actually have the minutes from one of these technical assistance meetings after the company met with Google engineers. While the identity of these two companies is irrelevant, suffice to say that they are companies that you have almost certainly heard of and that they spend millions of dollars on paid search words each year."

To sum up, Google owns an SEO company and its engineers allegedly give SEO advice to the company’s biggest clients. So gray it’s murky, wouldn’t you say?

Google did not return request for comment in time for publication.



Google’s Gray Areas Get Shadier
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  • Bojan STOJAN

    google doesn’t own doubleclick… you are a bit too fast on the trigger…
    wait till the deal is approved… and some period after… maybe google will do sth with performics…

  • Brad Bossard

    Pretty pathetic… As far as doing business in China, you either do business as the local government dictates, or you don’t do business at all, so you have to start somewhere. I like how you’ve totally glossed over the fact that Google is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on clean energy or their initiatives to provide free wireless networks or introduce competition in the cell phone industry.

  • http://foxtech.org tech

    It’s gray so they can keep everything under control. I would do that if I had to many things to worry about…