Is Google Evil? Jobs will be lost, and I will not receive a paycheque this year because of them

Chris Muktar, co-founder of WikiJob writes on how Google's monopoly over search has led to their revenues halving, all because of an arbitrary decision to slash their Google ranking, according to Muktar, for no apparent reason. Should Google act more responsibly towards startups?

Google Evil Monopoly

It was March 22nd. By 11am we knew something was wrong. Our traffic was dropping, and fast. Over the next few days, the full realisation of what was happening bored into our collective brain. Our Google rankings were dropping.

The dreaded ‘Notice of Detected Unnatural Links’

It wasn’t until almost 2 weeks later that we got the dreaded ‘Notice of Detected Unnatural Links’- we had been over link-building. But how? Sure, we had an SEO company contracted to help us, but their efforts were very modest. The SEO company detailed all their activity, we forwarded it to Google, and waited.

Three weeks later the response came. They still saw ‘Unnatural Links’ – and wouldn’t tell us which ones. We wrote back, saying, we have no idea what they were talking about, could they be more specific? More than a month later, the response came, verbatim like the first, with no insight as to what we had done to upset them.

Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected unnatural links

Google Webmaster Tools 'Notice of Detected Unnatural Links' is sent to websites which Google feels have 'spam' links pointing back to them from elsewhere online

Our online revenues had halved, and soon we would see the fallout from advertisers too.

Meanwhile, WikiJob was suffering. Our online revenues had halved, and soon we would see the fallout from advertisers too. If this continued, we would go bust soon, and everyone would lose their jobs.

We undertook a more thorough investigation. We downloaded all 9,000 links that Google said it found linking to us- legitimate and otherwise, and started to go through them. We were astonished with what we saw. Dodgy blog sites, sites that had ripped us off- even child porn sites- somehow had all linked to us. What’s more, we found some ‘articles’ about a client of ours that linked to us; and these articles were spammed across the internet. We never did this and have no idea how it happened.

Google Panda Update

In February 2011, as part of Google's 'Panda' update, the search giant updated their results ranking algorithm. The change aimed to reduce the rank of 'low-quality sites', and return higher-quality sites near the top of the search results. This led to 1000s of site owners suffering similar experiences to those experienced by Muktar's Wikijob.

We’re still waiting to hear back from Google

Once we had completed our purge, we found well over 1,000 links to report to Google as below the belt. We’ve sent them, and we’re still waiting. Meanwhile, people will begin to lose their jobs, and I will not receive a paycheck this year.

The issue behind this one is not whether Google was doing something right or wrong, but demonstrates the problem caused by a monopoly of a certain type of traffic. Google might argue we should diversify our traffic sources; but if Bing and suchlike can’t keep up- what are we to do? I believe if Google is to continue to act as a monopoly, they should act more responsibly as well.