tedster - 11:03 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)
I know it's fashionable in some circles to paint Google with that brush, but it's not at all how I see them. There's no such malicious intention.
What I do see is the result of relatively naive idealism - as well as an academic mindset. These fueled the company when it was small, and now that they are large, they're still in the overall mix.
Google made the decision, early on, to communicate with webmasters, and they communicate a LOT more than any other search engine. This immediately smacks up against another reality: Google can't afford to give away the secret sauce. In addition, they are a publicly held company and need to be mindful of public perception.
Another angle they need to watch is the fact that webmasters are a very diverse bunch. What one very savvy webmaster thinks Matt Cutts or Amit Singhal just said is a lot different from what another thinks was said. In other words, because there is so much communication, we webmasters can create a lot of our own FUD.
It's very easy to project our own mindset onto an other - easy but dangerous. It's very easy to think of "a company" as if it were "a person" - also dangerous, because companies are not people. Especially as they scale, companies show emergent phenomena that no individual person would ever display.
And most of all, it's tempting to constantly ask "friend or foe" - but sometimes the answer is "not either one." If we want to see Google as our enemy, then we make that our reality. I do not choose that approach, and I do not have that experience.
Question: how many times has an SEO viewed ranking at Google as "just a game", rather than as affecting real people working at a real business? I just recently read a webmaster comment that ethics don't enter into the picture with SEO, because it's just computer code talking to computer code. But it's not. It's people -- using to computer code to communicate with other people. Ethics are just as big an issue here as with any other human endeavor. On both sides.