Do this now: disable personalized results (add &pws=0 at the end of the search page) and do a quick search for ‘new shoes’.
Behold the sprawling failure that would make Matt Cutts curl up into a ball and weep:
Marketing and marathons never mixed better. When I search for new shoes, it is only but obvious that I would want to buy a completely unrelated product on marketing too.
Google, We Need to Talk
This result is the consequence of a new Google algorithm update that targets roughly 3% of searches. This follows a string of updates over the past few few months that seek to rid the SERPs of ‘webspam’, but inadvertently make the internet less fun, less democratic, and less useful.
Eliminating webspam is a noble idea. It’s hard to argue with a company that wants to remove crap from the internet.
But in the process, Google is essentially yielding power to established brands and authority sites.
The new update reiterates what Google has already said in the past: that branded websites are now being favored over smaller competitors. That unless you already have an established social media presence and thousands of well-written articles, you can’t touch the first page, let alone top it (barring a few anomalies like the one above).
In other words: the internet is becoming a lot like the real world. And that is a scary thought.
The internet was supposed to be the great equalizer. It was the platform a no-name startup could launch with a few hundred dollars, slap together a website, and pull rank in the SERPs and beat entrenched, established competitors.
Not anymore. This new update essentially says out loud that small guys aren’t welcome anymore. You need to be big to get anywhere near the top. But to get big, you need to be at the top – a Catch-22 situation if I ever saw one.
Part of the blame can be assigned to internet marketers and SEO experts who deemed it appropriate to pollute ever search result imaginable with regurgitated crap. But Google’s response in favoring brands is antithetical to the founding ethos of the internet itself.
We need to get back to an internet that welcomed the little guys with open arms. Forget relevancy, what’s at stake here is the very soul of the internet. And if the big guys win by default, the internet loses.