As i navigate around the blogosphere, and the Search forums i keep hearing the same thing: "Google is not part of the conversation". This is true, in fact, they couldn't be any more out of the conversation, and one has to wonder what the hell they think they're doing?
Google are at the absolute bleeding edge of technology, but what about public relations, communication and participation? The Autolink debacle is a classic example, everybody is talking about it except Google and by not being part of the debate, and not being seen to participate and interact with their users, Google look more and more cold, and corporate everyday. They are being compared to Microsoft on a daily basis, yet as Doc Searles pointed out recently, even Microsoft eventually listened to thier customers and backed down from Smart Tags.
Follow the title link for the full post.
It gets worse...
TheStreet recently branded Larry, Sergey and Schmidt as hypocrits over their silence with investors, saying that this was all well and good in good times, but would not go down well when the markets turned.
Secret 007 Employees in Search Forums
Think the above is bizzare? Danny Sullivan has highlighted a little known issue outside of the Search community that has had some marketers claiming mistrust and "cluetraining" for some time. (i'd be one of those..)
For some years, Google have had an "unofficial representative" posting on Search forums and blogs such as WebmasterWord, SearchEngineWatch and even Threadwatch under the alias of GoogleGuy - Danny has had enough of it:
y the way, GoogleGuy is indeed a real Google employee that you can trust as speaking for Google, even though as I've also written before, comments he makes have been sometimes said to be unofficial in nature.
Confusing? Yep, it is. I've also written before that it's time for the lid to come off GoogleGuy's identity. That's especially so if Google's going to continue releasing official information about controversial topics such as cloaking or nofollow via forums, blog entries and so on in this way. The company needs to finally identify the person behind the nickname, so that the general public doesn't have to wonder if it's really Google talking. I've had reporters ask me in the past how they can know the person is real; John Battelle on his blog wondered the same earlier this year after getting a GoogleGuy comment:
and has gone as far as to threaten to out him himself if "Googleguy" does not stop flaffing around and come out and state his name and purpose:
Hopefully, we'll see Google finally identify GoogleGuy so there's no confusion that he does speak for the company. If not, and if we have to keep getting "official" information in this "non-official" way, I'll simply out him myself.
A Secret is only a Secret, when it's a Secret!
The most amusing thing is that there are very few in the Search community who do not know who this masked man is. Mostly, those that know keep quiet about it out of respect, or perhaps fear of reprisal, but it's not really a secret when so many people know the truth.
I mentioned him by name a few times at one point, then decided it was probably better to just leave him be, members of Threadwatch are granted a little respect no matter who they are or what I might think of their antics (mostly heh..) but in light of Danny's threat - Threadwatch will be the first to confirm it if he goes ahead and blows the lid off of this long running farce.
Putting it All Together
So, we have this:
- No communication with bloggers
- Pretending burning issues like Autolink do not exist on their own blog
- Masquerading around under aliases in Search forums and blogs, (and recently only turning up in unhelpful circumstances
- Telling investors "we dont know" as a standard answer
What's going on Google?
I could forgive Google the Autolink fiasco if they would allow websites to opt-out, or better still, dropped it as the PR hotcake it is and pulled themselves and the rest of the web back from the brink of that oh so talked about slippery slope.
I could forgive them snubbing investors questions easily.
I could put the "GoogleGuy" silliness down to just not thinking about it properly.
I could put their own blogs blazë attitude to hot issues down to "just not getting it".
You know what i find it really, really hard to forgive though? The cavaleir attitude that all of those points highlight. It's time that Google turned around it's communications strategy and started to be part of the conversation.
Come on Google, you could actually come out looking great from all this, all it would need would be a Heartfelt Apology and a little communication.