The buzz today is that Google is manually slapping a PR penalty on blogs that do PayPerPost advertising. You can read more about it here on the IZEA blog: Google Goes after the Everyday Blogger.
What Google is doing smacks of monopoly behavior, using its power in one area to control the market in another. This is very similar to what Standard Oil did in the 1880’s and 1890’s in the oil business.
What Standard Oil Did
Much like Google, Standard Oil was the technology leader in their day and relied upon an efficient delivery system and responsible management to provide consumers with petroleum products. They even “did no evil” by being surprisingly ‘green’ for their day and time, finding ways to resell waste products rather than polluting with them.
However, they soon became evil by using aggressive practices to destroy competitors’ businesses. Standard Oil bought and influenced railways in order to prevent competitors products from reaching the marketplace. They were in such a position of power they could set the price they wanted for oil and the non-negotiable price they would pay to transport the oil. Think of it as the PageRank of that day. Just like Google and its control of both search and online advertising, they were perceived to own and control all aspects of the petroleum business in the United States.
Eventually, Standard Oil was one of the first companies to be broken up under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.
What Google Is Doing
Google is using its search PageRank to strangle competitors in the field of online advertising, probably in an attempt to compel publishers to use its Adsense and Adword products. They’re using their dominance in search to “block the railroad tracks” of competitors in the online advertising arena.
In short, if Google continues this monopolistic behavior they will earn themselves an appointment in US Federal Court on anti-trust charges just like Standard Oil, AT&T and Microsoft did due to their behaviors.
I like Google though. I think what they’ve built in terms of a search engine and advertising method is great. However, when they start using their influence in search to take out competitors they cross the line from being “good” to being “evil”.
What Google Should Do
Google should entirely separate search and advertising in separate companies. They could even make Google Search non-profit. They should also replace the public 0-10 toolbar ranking with a more meaningful and useful metric. Google Ads could go on to build an advertising company that’s not only online but in mobile and other areas as well. I think that if the truly want to “do no evil” they should do this themselves as soon as possible and save the taxpayers considerable money taking them the court.
Has Google crossed the line? Do you think they’ll have a date in Federal Court anytime soon? Do you think they should split into separate companies? Leave me a comment and let me hear your thoughts.