11 May

Eroding the Google brand with search engine "spam"

How even the most powerful could be humbled by stupid greed

Shari Thurow has cogently found an incredibly brilliant firm doing an incredibly stupid thing - which has the the potential for billions of dollars of brand value loss. Google is risking its brand on marginal spam business!

Even more juicy is start-up Demand Media that Matt Marshall reports is getting $120M to profit off Google's brand value loss - they can make a fast buck off selling Google down the river.

This must be a first - sucking money out of a blue-chip brand in public with the assent of the patsy.

Perhaps this better belongs in "Ripley's Believe it or not" category - I prefer to think its something that's been missed rather than been actively considered. But here's the gist of it:

In her article "Encouraging Search Engine Spam", she points out that Google is poisoning its first page search relevance with link farm entries, profiting off of the CPM revenues as a potential fraud not unlike click fraud.

In my Haas biz school course way back years ago, the first thing impressed about brand value was how easily it was lost, and how hard to recover.

Spam related businesses have about the most negative connotations you can get on the planet, and there is nobody who uses Google who hasn't been hit by spam. You couldn't ask for a more brand damaging situation than this.

Already, Demand Media is floating a $120M investment to buy-up dead domain names to use with link farms that simply scrape content sites with follow on links to the content. From the people who brought you MySpace, and big-name finance.

So what happens if things continue as they are? First page search results get dominated by these link farms, Google results then are less relevant, and people look for a brand that gives them the relevance that Google used to.

The Wall Street Journal reports "the Web's biggest search engines are littered with search engine spam. Link farms, click fraud in sponsored listings, and links to sites harboring viruses and spyware are among the many concerns facing search engines today. A new study from SiteAdvisor, a unit of McAfee, says that roughly 5 percent of the results found on the first five pages at major engines like Google and Yahoo exposed users to viruses and spyware, including 3 percent of normal Web search results and 9 percent of paid advertisement ... it's still a bit alarming to hear that a consumer will click through to an unsafe site from a search engine about once every two weeks."

Posted by william at 01:32 | Comments (0)
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