Do You Want the Government Telling Google What To Do?

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Google Palm
(photo from dullhunk)

While they receive a lot of negative comments from their critics, I have always enjoyed reading TechCrunch. Although I don’t expect to read the latest news from the SEO and SEM world when I visit TechCrunch, when I pulled up their homepage today, I noticed that the current post with the most comments was about this exact subject, specifically: The Time Has Come To Regulate Search Engine Marketing And SEO.

This post was written by an anonymous guest author who is described as being “a well known executive at one of the largest sites on the Internet.” Although it is a fairly lengthy post, it’s main points can be boiled down to the following:

Google is the gatekeeper of the Internet’s traffic.

Unless you are in the Top 3, your online business might as well not exist.

It’s not fair that Google gets to play God over their organic and paid algorithms.

“Agencies and other traffic brokers” have an unfair advantage because “they’re capable of reverse-engineering these rules”.

Google should be forced by law to be more transparent because only then can “all businesses can compete freely in the organic and paid search marketplaces.”

While I could spend all day talking about why I disagree with the premise of this post, since there is already so much great discussion going on about the post in the TechCrunch comments (as well as other locations around the web), I thought it would be more interesting the best of what’s been said so far…

Agree:

“The beauty of really great algorithms is that they still hold when they are open. This makes them even stronger.” -Ido

“more search engines = more competition = Google would have to offer more transparency and better customer service to attract business” -Frank

“Some form of regulation, would surely even the playing fields, so that If I as a small timer, do everything correctly when it comes to SEO, I will stand the same chance in the SERP as any other SEO.” -Robert Bravery

Disagree:

“It’s a free market. For God’s sake, the minute you start inviting government to start calling the shots is the minute things go wrong.” -Econsultancy

“Disclosure doesn’t solve the problem. If everyone knew how Google’s algo worked, then it would simply lead to a race among SEO agencies to uncover the specific techniques to manipulate results for their clients.” -JB

“As many of the comments on the article have stated, an anonymous post about transparency is an oxymoron — you can’t tell the search engines to be open when writing without accrediting the author.” -SEW

Now that you have had a chance to read what others are saying in response to this post, let’s hear what’s on your mind…

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