When it comes to creating great online content, few companies seem to know as much as Google.

They create great sites and tools that get a lot of traffic. They’re the top search engine on the web today. And, crucially, their algorithms determine which sites appear at the top of the results page and which get buried. Considering how Google is so widely used, this means the company has a lot of power over your site. If your organisation is dependent on the web, this could impact your entire business.

Google tend to get it right most of the time. Their algorithm updates are mostly designed to keep away spam and content optimisation techniques that deceive users.

If Google were a perfect authority on everything to do with the web, this wouldn’t be so bad, but of course nobody is perfect. There are definitely some moves that have exposed them to deserved criticism. Remember when:

  • In 2009, a simple typo led to Google categorising every site on the Internet as potentially harmful. The mistake was caused by a misplaced backslash on a blacklist that was set up to include every possible URL.
  • While not related to search, Google’s first attempt at a social network, Buzz, was widely criticised for signing up every Google user to it automatically, and sharing personal information such as ‘most frequently emailed contacts’ by default.
  • In mid-2014, Google decided to stop supporting its authorship module that linked blog and news posts with their author. Google had introduced authorship three years earlier, but the change represented wasted time for those who had gone to the effort to implement it.
  • The search engine gives better rankings to businesses and sites that use its much-maligned Google+ social network – probably a way to get webmasters using Google+, rather than to make them create more relevant content.
  • Every time Google change their ranking algorithm, there’s inevitably fallout as some sites get a boost, some get demoted and some seem to disappear from Google’s search results pages altogether.

Obviously we all make mistakes, and while Google employs some of the cleverest and most experienced techies on the planet, they are by no means immune to failure. But when they make a mistake it’s more likely to be on a massive scale, with the potential to affect thousands if not millions of people, and their online reputation.

We love Google, but is it right that we’re so much under their spell? Let us know what you think in the comments!

AUTHOR

Charles Sellers

With a background in development and marketing, Charles has grown the business over the past four years to a small but agile team.