Does Google Own You? aka Don’t Be Google’s Bitch

Feb 28 2011

Fred Wilson said it best.  “Don’t Be a Google Bitch” It’s a scary place to be.  Your whole business model based on where you rank on Google.  The majority of your income based on Google Adsense.  You may be surprised how many people are in this position.  Google owns them.  One algorithm change. One perceived click fraud and your income reduced to pennies.  It’s a position you don’t want to be in.

It’s basic business sense.  You never want to have all your eggs in one basket.  Relying on one single entity for income. Many of my fellow plant growers were in bed with Wal-Mart when Wal-Mart decided to make some changes.  Changes that didn’t include them.  Where did it leave them?  Out of business.  It’s the same scenario for many online businesses. They built their site for Google search and around Google Adsense rather than build it for users.  The users are revolting and forcing Google to make changes.  Changes that may not include many of those business models.  They are owned by Google and Google is closing the doors.

I talked to a friend yesterday that does $10K a month in Adsense.  Inexplicably Google instantly closes his account for click fraud.  They used a bunch of other terms and a vague one page explanation but basically they are accusing his site of click fraud.  Now this person runs as straight of a business as anyone I know and I can guarantee he doesn’t click fraud.  Sure, he optimizes adsense, but right on the first page of their recommendations they say you need to optimize. Regardless, they found a problem and shut him down.  No explanation, no answers.  Not only did they shut him off but they kept this months and last months earnings which were in the $30,000 range.  My first thought would be this.  If I have a customer bringing in $10,000 a month (obviously Google is making money off him) why in the world would you shut him down?  It’s not in your best interest to do.  You could say they just wanted to steal the $30,000 but it just doesn’t make sense.  Fortunately for my friend, Google was only half or less of his advertising revenue.  He didn’t have all of his eggs in one basket.  He had a lot of them, but with a little adjustment and switching of advertising, he’ll be fine. Heck, he may even be better off free of Google.  He also doesn’t get his traffic from search.  He had thousands of regular readers that he’s built over time.  He is going to be fine.  He used to work with Google, he was not owned by them.

The point to that story was this.  Google can do whatever they want, with little to no repercussions.  They can deindex you, cut you off and keep your adsense and you will most likely never get a response as to why.  Heck, Epic was deindexed, met with some higher up people and they still never got all their sites back on Google.  Even their poster domain icecreammaker.com moved to Amazon to move away from Google.  It’s a lesson learned for Epik.  They are better and stronger for it.  They have learned that relying on Google is not a good business model.

This story is not about the evils of Google but the contrary.  It’s about not taking the easy way out.  Letting Google do all the work by finding your customers and relying on their advertising is just being lazy. Fred Wilson often gives business advice for new businesses and startups and he says this.  “Search – It is not first on the list for a reason. I don’t think search driven businesses are interesting. Live by SEO, die by SEO. Don’t be a google bitch. But you will notice that many of the top consumer web brands are highly SEO’d. Try searching on a person’s name who is active on Twitter. I bet their Twitter feed will be one of the first five results.  Flickr did this very well. So does LinkedIn and Crunchbase. SEO is something that takes time to pay dividends. But you should build your product day one to be search friendly and keep at it. You can break your SEO with product changes and be careful not to do that”

Great advice. Build a product, a service, a company.  Build it to be search friendly but don’t don’t let Google own you.  Don’t be Google’s bitch.

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Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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16 comments

  1. Rob Sequin

    So true.

    Got an email from Sedo saying that their “ad provider” (Google) claimed that a couple dozen of my sites were “fail listed” by Google for spam.

    In my own defense, I do not understand why Google would fail list any of my domains. I either park them, develop them or forward them to a relevant site I built.

    I would like an explanation from Sedo and/or Google and I would like the ability to confront my accuser but this is not an option available to me.

    Sedo did nothing to defend me and admitted that not only do I have no recourse against Google’s fail listing, THEY have no recourse against Google’s fail listing of domains.

    I was told that there was nothing I could do. Well, I disagreed.

    I removed ALL my 3000 domains from Sedo sales and parking and had them close my account.

    I refuse to be Google’s bitch and felt obligated to make a statement to Sedo.

    Since Sedo refuses to defend their customers and be a Google bitch, they may eventually find that they have no customers.

    So, since Sedo is a Google bitch, if you park your domains with Sedo, you are a Google bitch too.

  2. Leonard Britt

    At some point there will be a backlash against publishers being taken advantage of. For now, Adsense is an easy solution and I have not found affiliates to be a suitable alternative.

  3. RH

    The bigger problem here is the no reply. If Google says “We think this” ok, let’s discuss it, maybe you are wrong. Maybe there is a fix. The no reply we are above that is the biggest problem with Google IMO. Prove it, you have the best analytics, show there was a problem and you are closing an account for that specific reason. Again IMO

  4. Dan

    Hi,

    This happen to a lesser extent, back in about 2006…when Google dropped or ‘sand boxed’ a bunch of ‘mini sites & blogs.

    I know many people that where making anywhere from 5K – 60k+ a month, depending on how may and the nature of their ‘adsense network empire’….with in about a weeks time, all of them had their ‘adsense’ revenue cut down to 70%-90%+ overnight.

    And this was when Google was paying out a lot more $ in CTR…and these ‘persons’ had been earning this income for well over a year straight…with no problems.

    Can you image having a 5k+ or so mortgage a month (maybe more than one)…a few expensive ‘toys’ in the driveway that cost 50K -100K+ (with monthly payments)…

    And one day you wake up to find you went from making 60k a month, down to making 1k-5k a month?

    “Houston We Have A Problem”

    Accounts were shut down…no reason(s) given, could not contact anyone that would reply.

    I was hit with this also…lost 80+%+ overnight….I was not on near the level of the people I am referring to in this post. But just the same…it was a huge… hit for me personally also.

    Advice: If you insist on building mini-sites & blog networks with the sole income being ‘adsense’…get a ‘dedicated sever’, use may different ‘C-blocks’ and many different IP address’s.

    Best,
    Dan

  5. Paul

    “If I have a customer bringing in $10,000 a month (obviously Google is making money off him) why in the world would you shut him down?”

    Aren’t the customers the guys who are paying $30,000 (approx.) a month for his traffic? If his traffic is not converting, then…

  6. Dan

    Hi,

    No matter how much money a person makes because of websites, blogs, domain parking or whatever with Google.

    Goggle still gets to use everyone’s website properties and domain assets that do not belong to them for free…which makes them just slightly more money than anyone else…most people think this is a good to great deal.

    I have, say a slightly different opinion…

    Peace!
    Dan

    BTW: I can not say anymore…or this post would come dangerously close to becoming a ‘rant’…and I, nor anyone else would appreciate that.

  7. MQJ

    I dont mind being Google’s somewhat you consider as a ‘Bitch’. You just have to know how to deal with them……..!

    For example, you said ‘you won’t leave any customer who makes you some decent amount of dollars.
    Then can you afford to leave someone who refers you most of your customers and ad clickers (which we eventually call traffic), just for free. I can’t and so do many peoples. And, All they need in return from you is ‘Quality’……….!

  8. Dan

    Hi,

    I will quote what I posted yesterday on a different blog (no offense Shane) 😉

    As the plain simple fact is…Google Is just to tiring.

    “Google makes you jump through more ‘hoops’ in a week, than All the Dolphins, Wales, Sea Lions at Sea World have to jump through in a year!”

    Now that is tiring!

    But hey…it keeps all the so called “SEO Experts” in business!

    Best,
    Dan

  9. Robin Ong

    Nice thought Shane. But reality is, Adsense is still the best alternative for someone who started off in online business. Try comparing to other alternatives like affiliates and similar PPC players like Chitika; the thing is if your site has traffic, as long as you are still being favored by Google, a recurring income still comes. I tried Chitika some time ago, damn, the payment they give is just a small fraction on what I could earn from Adsense…I deleted the Chitika code after 1 week.
    Anyway, I hope someone else will come along soon to challenge Adsense domination in this area, if not, ooops…Google is calling me, I have to go 🙂

  10. steve

    Google is very strict about their ToS.
    You get 1 appeal to prove you weren’t at fault.
    You can monitor clicks with Statcounter and report click bomb attacks.
    Your enemy can ruin you by click bombing you so you better monitor you site and clicks.
    Adsense is a big money maker and Advertisers seem to hate publishers, but why advertise then.
    I hate advertisers because they always complain to Adsense about publishers ripping them off.
    First thing you have to do is learn how to log clicks so you can stay alive with Adsense.
    Other networks are easier to use. Adsense is not for the easy going people.

  11. Kiddsock

    YouTube Partners have no other choice.

    It happened to me just as I was getting roll into success. Then BOOM. You can not replace the Ad service with anyone else.

    I am surprised that someone has not started a law suit against Adsense for this kind of behavior. There is a list of rules, but to just drop someone with NO explanation seems like Unfair business practices. I have seen Partners that have been clickbombed, Reported the activity and STILL get Disbabled. Even IF you follow the rules, you can not do anything about it.

    The Philosophy of Adsense is, IF we ignore you, you’ll eventually just go away and we will not have to worry about it anymore. That really goes against “Do no Evil.” Isn’t “Sloth” one of the Seven Deadly Sins?

  12. Louise

    My opinion is: you can’t sweat it! It’s just a machine. It’s the Google Monster. Just go with it, keep your site clean, include as many original, text-based articles as possible, and hope for the best! 🙂

Comments are closed.