Google has always come under a bit of scrutiny about the relative favour of their own products hold in their search results. Over the past thirteen years, Google have in fact carried out 119 merger and acquisitions with the largest being YouTube ($1.65billion), Doubleclick ($3.1billion), and most recently Motorola for $12.5 billion. For every acquisition that Google makes, those involved in online industries will talk in their thousands into what strategies this massive company will implement to ensure that the recent acquisition remains successful.
The cynics (or maybe realists) amongst us believe that Google sometimes cheat a little by using their clear monopoly to provide an unfair advantage for these acquired companies. One of the most notable, high profile and newsworthy of these clients is YouTube. Within recent years, as Google have introduced new algorithms; Google Panda, Google Penguin, DMCA complaints, and the most recent page layout algorithm the entire SEO and marketing community had predicted that YouTube’s traffic would drop considerably. Why? Because, each one of these updates should have affected YouTube considerably.
Google Panda focussed on low-quality and duplicate content. Yes, we all love wasting time watching videos of cats falling off benches and whatnot, but in reality your average YouTube video has been filmed by a 13-year old with a camera phone and a short attention span. For this reason, most of the staggering eight years of video uploaded to the site per day has little or no value and even the most creative YouTube Marketing Executive wouldn’t be able to describe it as quality content. So why did YouTube not get penalised for the standard of the videos on their site? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact they’re owned by Google would it? One of the next revisions to the Google algorithms was the DMCA complaints update. How YouTube didn’t get punished somehow in this update either is quite shocking; I was employed by a video company a few years ago and there were literally thousands of our copyrighted videos uploaded to YouTube. Again, why did Google not penalise YouTube for this activity?
Ok, so this blog so far has portrayed Google in a bad light. But in all honesty, I have a lot to thank Google for; they’re the reason why I have a job and my own agency but at the same time they’re also the reason why some clients get unfairly treated by the search engine. It is certainly true that Google can make or break a business. Just look at the number of websites that went out of business on the back of the Google Panda update back in April 2011.
Have times changed? Well, it certainly looks as though Google might actually be playing fair for the first time in its 14 year history. The most recent update, labelled the Page Layout (2) was the first time that a Google algorithm change has hit its own properties and what’s more surprising is that the website that got hit was YouTube. Based on the most recent statistics from SEMRush in their “winners and losers” segment, YouTube were the biggest loser in this category:
More surprising is the fact that Google actually made up for a whopping 50% of the top 8 websites that had lost search engine traffic. The others on the list were google.com, youtube-global.blogspot.com, and googleblog.blogspot.com. Is this an example that Google might actually be playing fair after all?
So, all in all, it is possible that Google have become a fairer search engine. Alternatively, Google may be trying to cover some legal loophole to ensure that they get no additional legal threats from competitors of their acquired companies. Either way, it is refreshing to see Google are actively making changes to the algorithm (right or wrong) that can have an influence on their own properties. I think the online world has waited for this day for a long time, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the statistics above.