PageRank, Google, Continue to Kill Jobs, Small Business and Blogs #smallbiz


My previous share predicting the tide is turning against Google was premonitient. Google has penalized my site and set it immediately to PR0 because a clueless link snitch claimed a high quality guest post I published for free means I am part of some network. None of the posts on the sites he reported to Google as far as we have been able to determine so far are even paid content. 

Full details in

Influencers are starting to remove their sites from Webmaster Tools. replace Google Analytics, and find alternatives to all things Google.  If Google refuses to show us quality sites we need to find a search engine that will. 

AS LONG AS YOU REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE DAMAGE GOOGLE DOES you are misleading small businesses and contributing to their refusal to focus on CONVERSIONS and reaching potential customers in all other ways. The easy Google search money train is throwing them over a cliff on a regular basis AND YOU KNOW IT!


not again

I am honestly tired of hearing people complain about Google all the time as if Google owes them something. If you are a small business your competition is big business. They have more money, bigger marketing teams, and generally more time to "get it right." Don't lay the inequity blame on Google... (for the record this is my PERSONAL opinion)

My point is make Google irrelevant if you are a smallbiz

The game is fixed. My entire point is that we need to STOP putting more time into trying to rank on Google. We need to IGNORE Google altogether and invest that time and those resources in getting visibility where potential buyers already are, bringing them back to our sites, capturing their attention and building relationships with them. 


Any time spent trying to recover a site that has been penalized is a waste of money. Even Michael Gray changed domains. That is how his site "recovered". 


Barry Schwartz on SEO Roundtable: Only 15% Say The Disavow Tool Benefits Their Rankings


“If you got hit by a penalty for bad links you’re probably looking at 6 months to a year to recover after you clean things up.” ~ Google spokesperson John Mueller in his Closing Keynote at SMX Israel.

Irrelevant is unlikely

I do see your more specific point, but I disagree that it is wise to strategize making Google completely or even 50% irrelevant for many business models. One big chunk of SMBs is likely to want to continue to foster local organic visbility, given the huge number of people using Google (and Bing) to find services. One utopian and personalized future could be finding any service in any area by relying on my social network, and using Facebook Graph or some better Twitter search.The problem with this is travel, where I have a smaller sample of local knowledge to pool from. I do like the potential for apps in the Yelp vein for local as well.

For other SMBs just trying to get a chunk of the pie for product related searches, a few very strong ones that I keep track of have survived. Some compete for big terms against big ecommerce-capable sites. I think this is no different than any town in the US where a Walmart or a Dicks Sporting Goods moves in. A number of smaller businesses are going to be hit, and even go out of business. Thus, I would have to reconsider my business model as a result of an environment change (like an algo update). I could increase my advertising and even gain a loyal and socially-connected following, but in the long term I may still be beat on pure scale-enabled cost cutting y competitor does. Churn and Burn is a concept discussed in the comments Rae Hoffman post linked from your blog and of course this doesn't translate well to brick and mortar.

I do agree that there are plenty of other internet "real" marketing tactics that can be done outside of Google, but disagree that we can properly plan a business and completely ignore search, in most cases.

What you want isn't necessarily what you can get

I never said small business didn't WANT organic traffic. I said they need to stop wasting time, money and effort on trying to get it back once Google takes it away. For many small businesses, corporations are NOT their natural competition - but Google is artificially making them competitors even when the corporations do not even sell what the small business does.


If people had any common sense at all or any loyalty to the family businesses that served their town for generations, they would not be shopping at Wal-mart and putting those small businesses under. Some finally figured that out - and some towns are actively trying to keep big box stores out. Intelligent people are reversing this damage by only supporting small business.


Small business should NEVER, EVER compete on price. It is impossible and irrelevant. They must compete on quality and service. When I used to eat out I would pass many cheaper restaurants to eat where the food and service were better and the atmosphere pleasant. I will gladly pay much more for products that actually work to businesses that actually care. While I am definitely not the average consumer, the numbers of people like me ARE growing. You can see evidence of this by searching the hashtags #buylocal #shoplocal #eatlocal, and local variations.  


By the way, it appears you are disgreeing that Google damages small businesses and costs people their jobs. Are you sure that is how you feel about this?  Plenty of evidence they do that all the time. 

yes i disagree

I do not believe the absolute statement "Google damages small businesses." Although not exactly the same, to me it is like saying guns kill people versus the person behind the trigger doing the killing. Every business venture has inherent risk. In bustling section of town where the rent is often volatile, brick and mortars fail all the time. Some can place part of the blame on the town based on tax or other environmental changes, but others would blame the disinterest from people that frequent the area near the business, or too many direct competitors (both established and "shiny" new).

I just disagree with the extreme idea that it is Google's fault since they made an algo update mostly aimed at people that cheated the system. There are of course excepetions, but I can't put lost jobs on Google any more than I can put it on the economy or thousands of unique circumstances that lead to gowth and failure of businesses.

Did you read the quote from the small business?

“Our family run business has been destroyed by Google’s animal updates."


What will it take for people to understand?  Aaron Wall at SEOBook publishes the quote where Google's CEO proclaims: 

The internet is fast becoming a "cesspool" where false information thrives,... "Brands are the solution, not the problem," Mr. Schmidt said. "Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.


Let me put it more clearly. Google puts small businesses OUT of business intentionally. Here are just a few examples: 

  • Online only ecommerce engraved gift seller builds sales to over $1.2 M over 12 years. The MayDay update takes 1/3 of their traffic, Panda and they're down to half. Penguin and they're done. What happens to their employees? No corporations I know of even sell engraved gifts. Prior to the algo updates Google hides their products for only the phrases that convert to sales in Google Product search. Screen captures showing how this is done in
  • Online only manufacturer and wholesaler builds a business over about that same time. Penguin takes 58% of their traffic, apparently because they created a lot of content about their one primary product and most organically acquired links use the name of that one primary product as the anchor text. 
  • Online only business worth $3.3 million built over a decade. They are #4 in their space. eBay buys #1 in their space. Suddenly they stop ranking for money keyword phrases and lose 70% of their traffic and income. They never built a single link; never hired an SEO (before that traffic drop - when the best SEO I know confirmed there was no negative SEO, no manual penalty - NOTHING to explain their traffic drop).


The propaganda is that Google's also updates are mostly aimed at people cheating. I call b.s. and point you to this analysis that clearly shows the Panda update bashed competitors to Google:


So not only did Google take the ecommerce stores traffic away, they also tried to kill off extremely useful sites like TheFind and ShopWiki which allow consumers to find small businesses to buy from directly.


Who benefits if we can't find them? Google and Amazon - the Wal-mart of ecommerce. We should support small businesses and buy from them directly, or through others such as NewEgg which carries much of what Amazon does and is a small business. 


I would argue that towns shortsighted desire for malls killed off downtowns. That subsidizing corporations like Wal-mart who transfer their costs of doing business onto the taxpayer, refuse to pay a living wage so that their employees are on government assistance by design (and indeed have people HELP THEM to get on the dole) is as stupid as letting Google control the Internet. 

you said the same thing before

I could dig up hundreds of thousands of "reasons why our business failed" that have nothing to do with Google. You make it seem like Google is on some sort of crusade against small businesses, which they are not, unless you carefully plot the story together with hand picked examples. Sorry but still don't buy it.

per your examples above:

1) Company had built a lucrative business model on Google's back and subsequently failed

2) Company had built a lucrative business model on Google's back and subsequently failed

3)Company had built a lucrative business model on Google's back and subsequently failed 

Why should Google be held accountable for another process in a natural Business Cycle (

We're back to Google has an unfair monopoly

Google has an unfair monopoly created by the media which they are systematically using to decide which businesses survive (multi-national corporate brands) and which they kill (small businesses). 


If your business is online only, and Google first let you build that business - and then intentionally kills it, I personally hold Google responsible. But this is a cautionary tale that small business needs to pay attention. Read what Google did to AdWords, and what Google does with organic search, and what Google does to small business, hiding their products for searches on the money phrases in Google Product Search, and then realize this applies to Facebook Extortion, and what other major online subjects will. 


 I consider these tactics immoral, unethical, and outright fraud. If you do not, we will agree to disagree. 

Dr Pete's response to my question on Reddit:

Dr Pete's response to my question on Reddit: "As marketers, we have to cut our dependence - not just on Google, but on search in general. We have to get back to connecting - in person, online, wherever and we have to diversify. Too many sites are getting 90%+ of their traffic from Google, and that's dangerous - replace Google with anything you want and no matter how good or bad Google is, it would still be dangerous.


At some point, the rules may change to the point that organic search is nearly irrelevant, and if your business is 100% reliant on that traffic, your business will cease to exist. I don't say that to be alarmist, but just because none of us really know. I don't want to have to wonder every morning how Google might change the game. Better to stop playing it, if only little by little.


As for Moz, the truth is that building an index and building a search engine are miles apart. I can honestly say Moz has no plans to be in the search game in that way - the math just doesn't work. We will evolve beyond search to focus on content, social, and the emerging world of what people need to track, while trying to balance the reality of where people are in 2014."

tired of the content marketing card

I am tired of agencies and websites peddling this content marketing argument, this Dr Pete fella is just repeating what's already out there - there's little point in content if it can't be found therefore search engines or indexes of whatever shape are still the future for the next 10 years. It nominally takes 3-4 years for something to catch on so if someone has already devised it then great.

Otherwise Google rolls on - the best place to do web business is Russia because Google dare not penalise web companies, no one would use Google because Yandex has 50% market share.

This is what this is about - Google simply dominates in an unfair market.

Coming in late - but

Coming in late - but technically you were a part of a paid content network (a well paid content network no less). The issue is one we had discussed in the past. When some of your content is paid, and some is natural Google can, and will, hammer the entire site rather than try to sort out which is which. Even if the content is top quality content, the fact that you were paid to post it is all they care about, and right or wrong, it is their game and to be a part of it you have to play by their rules. Being vocal about it doesn't help either. The real issue I see here, is that you are still discussing it in terms of PR. If your site delivers real traffic to people who post there, then the penalty will have zero effect on your buisness since that traffic won't be going away (regular readers/follower base). But if your site provided value simply by way of having a fat toolbar PR, then yes, it will suffer. 

As for making search a part of any strategy, you can, and should. But you can find me saying more than 10 years ago that it should be just one leg of many and that it should be kept under control to avoid it damaging your business. 

Only a matter of time before all small businesses suffer

Hi Steve,


I have readily admitted that I made my site a target to show bloggers how they can make a living and change the world - and knew eventually I would suffer for it. As I wrote in that post, I would not do anything differently. I caution them to do whatever they do QUIETLY.


The fact is even brands that do sponsored posts (which by definition are nofollowed so PR is irrelevant) use PageRank as the litmus test when searching. Blogs like mine will no longer appear in those tools.


I am not complaining that Google penalized my site. I am using it to raise awareness about what Google does to small businesses. That this has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with quality. That Google is systematically taking the traffic on the search phrases that convert away from small business and handing it to big brands.


I want bloggers and small businesses to understand that it is only a matter of time before they, too, will suffer - if they haven't already. That is true whether - like me - they have chosen to do what is right and whatever it takes to survive - or they are totally innocent and never did built a single link.


They need to be focusing on everything EXCEPT Google - and if they get penalized they SHOULD NOT waste their time trying to recover. They should focus on finding real customers elsewhere. What Google takes they almost never give back.

Then you are many many years

Then you are many many years LATE to the game. We have been saying that focusing soley on search as a business model was a bad idea for many many years. But I don't agree that you knowlingly set yourself up like to to be an example and to prove a point. If you did then you quite clearly have a screwed up business model and deserve no sympathy.

As for people that use PR as a litmus test, that would be their failing and a terribly stupid way to judge a website. And has been for many years. 


Hi Steve, 


This is NOT about me. PR agencies are still asking bloggers to publish useful content that has a link to their client in the bio. THEY are going to get their clients slapped with an unnatural link penalty because they do not know about nofollow and neither does the average blogger. 


The point is Google penalizes small businesses that never hired a PR or SEO agency and never built links. They hide their products in Google product search. They send them worthless traffic and don't show their businesses or products for the money phrases in organic search. They intentionally created a zero sum winner-take-all game with AdWords. 


Google is DANGEROUS and while I do NOT expect SEOs or anyone else to publicly go against Google because to do so invites penalties, it is high time people quit defending Google's practices and insisting that only those who intentionally or even accidentally broke the rules deserve to end up with their employees in unemployment lines and losing what they built over years - often 10-12+ years. 


Businesses that are 100% innocent of any wrongdoing ARE being damaged. SEOs need to stop claiming that never happens. That recovering from unnatural links penalties is almost impossible is evident: 


Any time spent trying to recover a site that has been penalized is a waste of money. Even Michael Gray changed domains. That is how his site "recovered". 


Barry Schwartz on SEO Roundtable: Only 15% Say The Disavow Tool Benefits Their Rankings


“If you got hit by a penalty for bad links you’re probably looking at 6 months to a year to recover after you clean things up.” ~ Google spokesperson John Mueller in his Closing Keynote at SMX Israel.


Anyone who blames the victims of Google is making this situation worse. 

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