Google have created a new form of corporate threat! Companies are now vulnerable to being outed for GAMING GOOGLE. Gaming or manipulating Google’s search results can lead to a penalty from Google which will prevent the company in question from ranking in the top positions of the search results.
Recently Expedia was outed for manipulating Google’s search results by a whistle blower [link] who was unheard of prior to his public outing of Expedia. He simply set up a blog and reported the tricks that Expedia had been involved with in gaming Google. Whether he was an insider at the company is not known. But this subsequently caused a scandal which affected the company share price and resulted in Google penalizing Expedia’s search rankings which caused a massif search traffic drop to their website [reported by search metrics].
Clearly a harsh lesson for Expeida, but what about the many others who are vulnerable to the same type of whistle blowing (Google Blowing) where someone can examine publicly available data, find and compile evidence the company manipulating GOOGLE and then report this (anonymously even) on some random blog and watch the firestorm wipeout the targets organic Google traffic, thus resulting in massive looses for the company in question.
THE BIRTH OF GOOGLE BLOWING
This type of threat we are labeling ‘GOOGLE BLOWING’ and is a new form of corporate sabotage that can be undertaken against any company who has been involved with ‘search engine optimization’ (SEO) previously, which involves the act of trying to push up their search rankings by placing artificial links to their target sites.
This ‘SEO’, has been a typical practice for most online companies in the last few years and more recently Google has been heavily penalizing companies that have been caught out by their algorithms for having created an unnatural link profile.
Clearly there is a high level of risk and paranoia since the vast majority of companies online have engaged in this type of manipulation along their journeys, leaving them now prone to being caught by Google’s algorithms which are designed to automatically detect and penalize such behavior, or having a third party exposing their dirty laundry to Google who has the knowledge and insight to investigate and expose manipulation.
In this environment companies who are proficient and understand these risks are going to great lengths to now remove any harmful links that may have been engineered previously, before they get caught out by a dredded Google penalty. So much so that specialists are being called in to detect the harmful links and then request the removal of such links before someone else finds them.
It’s a huge race to protect ones organic (free) search traffic and those who are not proactive are vulnerable and wide-open to this new form of corporate sabotage. There will be no doubt many more instances of Google Blowing over the next few years and Expedia will not be the first or last Internet giant to succumb to such an attack.
So which companies could be next to see their manipulation exposed by a Google Blower? It’s a relatively inexpensive process to algorithmically examine the links to a website (we charge £200 pounds to locate the bad links) and there are many companies who have a vested interest in exposing any wrong doing by their competition, who will be tempted to then report those to Google and gain higher positions themselves.