Google should close down "evil" Performics business

Google should close down "evil" Performics business

Summary: Google's recent acquisition of ad network Doubleclick means it is also owner of Doubleclick's Performics, a leader in search engine optimization (SEO) services. Google is in constant battle with SEO companies because they go beyond its basic SEO rules and trick its algorithms into a higher rank for a web site.

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TOPICS: Google, Browser
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Google's recent acquisition of ad network Doubleclick means it is also owner of Doubleclick's Performics, a leader in search engine optimization (SEO) services. Google is in constant battle with SEO companies because they go beyond its basic SEO rules and trick its algorithms into a higher rank for a web site.

This pollutes its search index with what are essentially paid inclusions, and also takes away revenue from GOOG's text ad links business.

This is why the influential Danny Sullivan, from SearchEngineLand recently called upon Google to sell Performics as soon as possible.

In his post Open Letter To Google: Do The Right Thing, Divest Yourself Of Performics, he writes:

Conflict of interest? You bet. And worse from an image perspective, the purchase puts Google in the paid inclusion business, something it dissed as evil back in 2004, when it went public...

It just doesn't feel right. To me, it's the same thing as if the New York Times owned a PR company, where much of that company's main work focused on getting articles to show up in the New York Times. It's a conflict that will hurt Google's trust...

He points to Google's 2004 IPO filing and the "Don't be evil" section:

Google users trust our systems to help them with important decisions: medical, financial and many others. Our search results are the best we know how to produce. They are unbiased and objective, and we do not accept payment for them or for inclusion or more frequent updating...

Our search results will be objective and we will not accept payment for inclusion or ranking in them...

Mr Sullivan says Performics should be sold as quickly as possible. But if Google sells Performics it will essentially be allowing it continue its work of polluting its search index with paid results.

I disagree. Google should close Performics, forgo the $70m in revenues, and employ the workers in doing good instead of engaging in actions it defines as "evil," imho.

Topics: Google, Browser

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  • Change in search has been noticeable

    I definitely noticed a change in search behavior in, say, the last 6 months with Google's search results. I agree the paid inclusions are polluting my search results. Alas, I still find it leaps and bounds better than the results from MSN or Yahoo.
    sovren
  • RE: Google should close down

    I agree with Danny Sullivan that there is certainly a conflict of interest in terms of Google owning an agency which is disciplined in search engine marketing. However, if you were to look a little more closely, this ???evil??? SEO you speak of is actually only a small part of Performics??? overall business. All morality issues with SEO aside, to squash Performics as a whole would be throw the baby out with the bathwater. It would also cause 100???s of people to lose their jobs, which doesn???t seem to be a big concern in your article.

    I would be willing to bet your employer has spent plenty of money trying to figure out how to squeeze the most organic traffic out of Google through the use of search marketing agencies or hiring SEO experts internally.

    To call SEO as a whole as ???evil??? is pretty short sighted and a vast over generalization. As in any industry, including your own, there are certainly bad actors. Damning SEO as a whole is like having a call-to-arms to condemn all journalists because of a few who don???t check their facts or make sensationalist, potentially damaging headlines (which, ???IMHO???, seems to be the case in this post).

    Disclosure: I do not work for Performics or Google, but as a Chicagoan have many friends who will be out on the street should Google share in your viewpoint.
    tdugan
    • Readable version below (copy and paste issues)

      I agree with Danny Sullivan that there is certainly a conflict of interest in terms of Google owning an agency which is disciplined in search engine marketing. However, if you were to look a little more closely, this "evil" SEO you speak of is actually only a small part of Performics' overall business. All morality issues with SEO aside, to squash Performics as a whole would be throw the baby out with the bathwater. It would also cause 100's of people to lose their jobs, which doesn't seem to be a big concern in your article.

      I would be willing to bet your employer has spent plenty of money trying to figure out how to squeeze the most organic traffic out of Google through the use of search marketing agencies or hiring SEO experts internally.

      To call SEO as a whole as "evil" is pretty short sighted and a vast over generalization. As in any industry, including your own, there are certainly bad actors. Damning SEO as a whole is like having a call-to-arms to condemn all journalists because of a few who don't check their facts or make sensationalist, potentially damaging headlines (which, "IMHO", seems to be the case in this post).

      Disclosure: I do not work for Performics or Google, but as a Chicagoan have many friends who will be out on the street should Google share in your viewpoint.
      tdugan
    • SEO pollutes Google results...

      To promote a web site just to get a higher ranking pollutes Google results because its index is based on the wisdom of the crowd, not the wisdom of marketers.

      My advise has always been to do the minimum amount of SEO and to optimize your site for your visitors not the search engine bots and spiders. Let the search engines optimize themselves, you should optimize for your audience.
      foremski
  • Major conflict of interest

    I agree, this is a big conflict of interest and Google's best option would be to none other then close down this business. Selling the company wouldn't get rid of the problem, it'd just make it someone elses business..

    - John Musbach
    John Musbach