An Open Letter to Google

Dear Google,

urgent-open-letterWhile I need to talk to you about a few issues, I believe it’s only fair to begin this letter with a genuine thank you. For years you have provided a very solid set of search results and your market share reflects a true talent for understanding what people think they want, how they think they want it, and serving it to them quickly.

I may not always agree with what you believe I’m looking for, but you always give it your best shot; and while the “don’t be evil” of years gone by has been replaced by constant strategies to monopolize and monetize, we all knew the younger hippie days of college couldn’t last forever as you grew to be a mature, tax-paying member of the 0.1 percent.

Because I understand that, like all things, you had to grow up, it’s only fair to give you the benefit of a doubt and think, “You must have been conflicted between the right thing and knowing you were going to have to face your shareholders.”

And so, it is with sadness that I have to write this letter and get a few things off my chest. While I have a great deal of respect for you, I can no longer ignore how you treat my friends and clients. Let’s start with how you discipline us.

You Need To Know Who Did It

While everyone understands that this is your house and so you get to make the rules, any good parenting book will tell you that it’s not fair to discipline your children if you’re not sure they did anything wrong. I mean, it’s one thing to pull over the car and tell us all you’re not moving until we start behaving, it’s another thing to spank all of us because you’re not sure who’s causing the problems, and as Frank pointed out, you do just that. I need you to know that’s not fair.

And another thing; why do you get us all excited by telling us we’re going somewhere fun and then take us to the doctor? It started when you promised us all we were going to a dance until we realized we were the ones expected to dance as you shot at our feet.

And let’s not forget the trip to the zoo you promised…

A Trip To The Zoo

We all like going to the zoo but when you start feeding us to the animals, well… that’s just not as fun is it?

First you took us to the Panda cages and just to make sure we all knew who was boss, threw a few of us in.

“You’re not studying hard enough and sometimes you say things that don’t seem to matter (to me)!” you shouted. And in they went, we sure felt sorry for Billy who was just trying to keep his ideas succinct, but you thought he was shallow and in he went too.

And then you took us to the see the penguins. Such friendly and silly-looking creatures… who would have thought you taught them to attack! But you did.

“I don’t like who you’re hanging out with and I don’t care if you don’t really like them back, they keep coming around and I don’t like it!” you exclaimed and so in you threw a few more.

Poor Tommy, he didn’t know that his domain had been owned before and that a few bad eggs liked it. He was trying his hardest to do a good job, and what started with a blind-side, ended with a Penguin ran-sacking.

In future, let’s just start naming your disciplinary measures what they are. Perhaps we can start off 2013 with the Attila Smackdown, move on to the Benito Butt-kicking, and go from there just so there aren’t any more mixed messages.

And The Advice You Give

Now you could say that you’ve been telling us all along what we should be doing and if we stick to your rules that we’ll be OK (unless, as Frank pointed out above, there’s collateral damage).

As a father I think of how I would explain a math problem to my child. The conversation doesn’t go:

Me: The answer is 4.5

Son: (looking blankly)

Me: You just need to fill in the 3 lines between the question and the answer.

Son: (looking blankly)

Me: (walks away happy about how helpful I’ve been)

While you sometimes try to help us understand what you want, this is exactly how the conversation goes with you and you don’t understand how people get lead astray. Here’s an example of a common back-and-forth my friends and I have with you:

Us: How would you like us to get our friends?

You: Say a lot of great stuff and people will want to be your friend.

Us: But I’m new to the neighborhood and nobody knows me or stops by, who will hear me?

You: You can use social media and say great stuff and people will refer to you.

Us: But I’m new to the neighborhood and nobody knows me or stops by, who will hear me?

You: If your content appeals to other people and is valuable, they will like you and refer you to others.

Us: But I’m new to the neighborhood and nobody knows me or stops by, who will hear me?

You: And while we don’t like you shouting from the rooftop, you can go to other popular people’s houses and talk from there. That’ll give you some street cred.

Us: But I’m new to the neighborhood and nobody knows me or wants me to stop by, who will hear me?

You: And that’s how you get good friends.

Us: (looking blankly)

Can you see how we sometimes don’t understand what you expect from us and how we sometimes get upset when you punish us. You pretend you tell us what you want but you don’t tell us how you want us to do it in ways that are realistic.

We can’t make friends when no one knows who we are and you tell us we can compete with the cool kids if we work hard, but ignore that they’re sneaking out back to smoke.

But We Still Need You

I hope you know that despite all this, we still need and respect you. If you’re not feeding us to the animals, you’re generally fairly kind but I hope that this letter helps you understand the heartache we feel and mixed-emotions we have when we think of you.

As we head into a new year, please try to remember that we’re people, too. Sometimes we need real help understanding what you expect of us, not a cryptic message of “be better” and a spanking if we don’t do it your way.

Webmasters Everywhere

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