Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Google Catching Some Heat

From kid mercury

Recently, there's been much talk about the new Google patent application, which, among other things, suggests that links from disreputable sites will hurt the ranking of the site receiving the link -- even if there is no reciprocal link. If this is the case, it opens the door for some rather dangerous possibilities, namely the intentional "de-optimization," for lack of a better term, of competing sites. This could be, I suppose, the next step in the evolution of black hat search engine optimization.

Naturally, many in the search marketing community are none too pleased with this development. With Google apparently taking a far more pro-active stance in fighting what it perceives to be search engine spam -- and allegedly doing far more questionable things, like stealing AdWords clients from SEM professionals -- it seems quite certain that search marketing is headed down a rather ugly path.

So, a question: what this mean for ethics in search marketing? Or are there even any ethics at all? Are "ethical" search marketing professionals actually doing their clients a disservice by introducing morals? I'm inclined to think that ethics in search marketing are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. Now more than ever before, the game is about risk and reward. The search industry as a whole has always had somewhat of a shady reputation, but if Google, the ruling emperor of the search industry, is going to resort to shady tactics as well, then it may be time to simply admit that the search industry is not a place where thinking ethically will get you very far. Thinking in terms of risk and reward, on the other hand, just might.

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