Public Relations Nightmare for Google Search Results

Several people contacted me yesterday to ask if I’d read David Segal’s article in The New York Times. I had. And “A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web” is a public relations nightmare for Google search results.

First, it says, “Online chatter about DecorMyEyes, even furious online chatter, pushed the site higher in Google search results, which led to greater sales.”

Second, it states, “A call to Google was returned by a member of its publicity team, who agreed to speak only if his ideas would be paraphrased and not directly quoted. He said that he would send a follow-up e-mail that could be quoted, but that e-mail never arrived.”

You’ll want to read the article for yourself — if you haven’t already read it.

So, why did Segal’s article prompt anyone to contact me? Because I’ve been writing and speaking about SEO and PR since 2003 — and this is a case study of a search engine product failure compounded by a public relations process failure.

Now, when Google shutdown Google Wave and Nexus One back in August, it celebrated its ability to “fail fast and learn.”

So, I’ve got to believe that Google’s software engineers, who change the search engine’s algorithm on a daily basis, will take time today to review how Vitaly Borker, the founder and owner of DecorMyEyes, “exploited this opportunity.”

But I’ve also got to hope that Google’s PR professionals — who don’t change their policies and procedures on a daily basis — will also take time today to review whether it was wise for a company spokesman to sidestep the question of “whether utterly noxious retail could yield profits.”

Oh, and then the Google spokesman recommended that Segal talk to Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief of the blog Search Engine Land.

Now, I’ve known Sullivan since 2002 — and he’s widely considered a leading “search engine guru.” But he’s not the company spokesman for Google.

Imagine if White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs sidestepped tough questions about the economy and recommended that reporters talk to an economic guru instead.

So, the Google’s PR department — as well as Google’s software engineers — need to “fail fast and learn.”

Hey, they’ve already failed fast — so they’re halfway there. What do you think?

Related reading

How to lead SEO teams and track its performance effectively: Experts tips
SEO is a team sport: How brands and agencies organize work
How to pitch to top online publishers: 10 exclusive survey insights
search reports for ecommerce to pull now for Q4 plan