Monday, December 8, 2008

Google's Downfall: Search Engine Optimization

Ironically, Google's (GOOG) "Do No Evil" motto has been turned upside down by its own unparalleled success. The story stock introduced itself to Wall Street with a controversial Dutch auction initial public offering at $85 that spurned the conventional blue blood methods of Lower Manhattan. Investors were treated to spectacular price appreciation, rivaling the late nineties tech boom as Google shares skyrocketed to $725 within three years (GOOG has since retreated to $284).

The Mountain View, CA enterprise has emerged to dominate the search market, trouncing all expectations along this great run. The success has in fact, produced a Google trio of billionaires: Co-founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin and steady-hand chief executive officer Eric Schmidt.

The young Giant has expanded its clean, basic search model into a vertically integrated empire of blogs, maps, images, and open source software - all bankrolled by paid online advertisements that generate 97% of GOOG revenue. With a monopoly-like 70% market share of search ad dollars, Google has throttled all comers. The corporation has left Yahoo (YHOO), former tech heavyweight in shambles, continues to instigate the ire of 800-pound gorilla Microsoft (MSFT), and has wreaked havoc throughout the entire publishing industry.

These guys may just be too smart for their own good.

Google's fatal flaw is a business model reliant upon technological kryptonite. Irrespective of Google's powerful Stanford brain trust - the computer cannot think. The artificial intelligence can only be programmed to execute a code-program implemented by the individual that is indeed, fallible. The creator must remain one step ahead of this perpetual cat and mouse duel of fierce competition and a landscape of opportunists - hell bent upon manipulating the automated computer to destroy its own maker. All machines can be Gamed.

Enter Search Engine Optimization (S.E.O.).

An entire parasitic, cottage industry has risen in the shadows of Google's prominence to bleed the integrity of Search. S.E.O. revolves around the strategy of rigging the search technology 'crawl' algorithm to prioritize particular websites and articles. Popular keywords and complicated tech geek html script is often installed into e-literature as a means to achieve higher search rankings and drive web traffic to one's website. The scheme has produced a charged atmosphere of suspicion, contempt, and outright fear.

Online advertisers will refuse to remit payment to Google in exchange for bogus search results. Google, in turn will perpetuate the paranoia by diligently screening all cyberspace language. Lastly, cynical web content producers will callously berate their well intentioned brethren as 'meritless writers,' exploiting the system to play up to a pandering readership base and feed into an 'inflated ego.' The finger pointing within this important section of the online community has degenerated into a garish spectacle of blame and mockery that may very well have precipitated Google's shocking demise from a $725 story stock to a decimated $284 fallen angel.

We encourage the intelligent marketing of one's product at all costs. However, the appearance of dead-end, unrelated writings of drivel at the top of Google search rankings is our main cause of concern. The emergence of said rubbish is the mark of a scofflaw, more familiar with computer algorithms than the nuts and bolts operation of creating strong, relevant content.

For example, a Google search of the term 'stock market' lists as a foremost authority on this term. A neopet is actually a fairy-tale fantasy stuffed animal of some sort that is more suitable for child's play, rather than the machinations of any serious 'stock market' researcher. We may present no parallel connecting the neopet with any stock market of any kind.

The Search Engine Optimization tactic has been degraded - exploited by opportunistic purveyors of irrelevant material, dubious schemes, and at-worst, malicious viruses and spyware. Rampant, tasteless distortions of the method will effectively destroy the integrity of Web 2.0, if left unchecked.

Interestingly, the awe-inspiring success of Google and its sheer dominance of the search market may have led to its ultimate undoing.

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