Why I Won’t Leave My Retirement Up to Google

by John Hoff on January 25, 2012

Like me, I would venture to say that most bloggers and online marketers have a love-hate relationship with Google.

On one hand it’s awesome how we can sit at home, write or create a bunch of stuff, post it online and let Google send us people interested in what we’re doing. On the other hand, it really is a pain in the ass sometimes trying to figure out how to play the Google game.

You know what I mean…

Get your stuff seen so that you can make money online or build a community around your website or build your online equity, etc.

From Matt Cutts himself, Google wants to return sites that are both “Reputable” and “Relevant”. But do they really? I’m starting to believe that Google wants to be just like you and me; someone who owns a website and wants to keep users on that site for as long as they can and hopefully in the long run become a regular visitor/user which spends money on your products or services.

At First I Thought This Was Cool

The other day I was in the grocery store and my wife asked how many ounces were in a cup. Since that conversion formula has long since expired from my brain, I pulled out my smartphone and typed that question into Google.

I was expecting to have Google shoot me over some websites which had some kind of conversion calculator or index table but instead, it gave me my answer right there in the returned search results.

At first I thought, “Hey that’s pretty cool”. After all, Google gave me what I wanted immediately without the need to search through various websites and get fed a bunch of ads thrown in my face.

Then I Spotted the Big Picture

Google is feeding me its own content.

Google doesn’t want to send me to YOUR website, they want to keep me on their website (yes I said “website”, not “search engine”).

I’m viewing Google more of a web development company now rather than a search engine and here’s my problem with that. Once Google starts to see itself as a “website”, that is, a site which contains searchable content and contains social interactions, it will start to think like a human.

And guess what?

No one really cares about you, your product, or your website.

So what do you think I think Google thinks about John Hoff?

With that in mind, can you guess who Google really does care about? Numero Uno (and its investors) – and never lose site of that. As bloggers and Internet Marketers looking to make money online, we are using a company who is so big that they are monopolizing themselves on the Internet.

Google Employees are Pushed for Google Dominance

Business Insider reported that Larry Page (Google CEO) “sent out a company-wide memo alerting employees that 25% of their annual bonus will be tied to the success or failure of Google’s social strategy in 2011.”

Have you noticed yet how many returned search results include Google+ pages?

I’ve been seeing them pop up everywhere. But seriously, what is this whole social revolution on the Internet doing to “the world’s information being organized?” To me, it’s being organized in such a way that it all plays out VERY well for Google.

Hey I understand that they have employees to pay, stockholders to please, and so on. But don’t sit there and tell me that you’re an “impartial search engine”, because Google, you are not. Matt says they are (impartial) himself at about 1:58 in the video to the right.

I just did a search for the following terms (try them yourself):

  • Cars
  • Music
  • Entertainment

When logged into Google, forget it… Google stuff is plastered all over the “what should be the best results for my query.”

Including the right sidebar, I get 5 links which all point to a Google+ account. FIVE! Look what my number 2 result is:

Though I think Ann is awesome, does Google really think when I go to Google and type in “Music” what I’m looking for is something about the “Indie Awards?”

Back to the bonuses thing…

Realize that this is a direct result of people wanting to make money. It’s not about what I want, it’s about people getting bonuses and companies and stockholders making money.

I’m Not Banking My Retirement On Google

In the past, here’s the relationship between your website and social media websites…

Social media sites is where a conversation is started, but the discussion is best done (for you) when it’s on your blog or website. Google is no different. They are trying to get the discussion to happen not on your site, but on their site. They want you to “guest post” for them. They want you to populate their database with fresh content, not your own.

Okay so I’m sounding a bit cynical about all this, I know. Truth be told, I’m not like all up in arms about it and holding up the protest Google signs while sleeping in tents at night. I’m just trying to convey my worries about the idea of making money online and investing (your) future in it alone. I’m concerned about you putting all your eggs into the Google basket.

For me, I like to be able to strategically figure out where my money is going and what kind of return on investment (ROI) I’ll be getting.

That is something which is extremely difficult to figure out when talking about social media. I can’t calculate social interactions like I can hard numbers like search volume and competition. I have no way of measuring what your Google world looks like when you’re logged into Google.

And that scares me. It scares me because Google has made it so that much of what I do will be based on taking shots in the dark at knowing what my true ROI will be in some cases.

For me, I plan on making money online, yes. I hope to make a lot of money through my various blogs and niche sites, but in the end…

I plan on investing that money in real estate.

With real estate you can see exactly what your ROI will be. You know what you can buy it for, what you can sell or rent it for, and how much money you will make.

But that’s a whole other conversation.

What about you?

Does this whole shift in the way Google is organizing the world’s information threaten you at all?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Keith Davis January 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Hi John
Got your email and came over.
Phew… you sound all fired up.

I guess you have to heed the old saying…
“If you can’t beat em… join em.”
Even an old idiot like me has had to jump on to twitter and Facebook!

Good to hear from you John.

Eh… pay me a visit on my new Genesis website – see what you think.

If you can’t find me, just Google… LOL


John Hoff January 28, 2012 at 9:37 am

Hi Keith,
Definitely I will “join them”. After all, if you’re looking to make money online, you have to go where the money is, right?

I’ll head over and take a peek.


Cynthia January 26, 2012 at 8:23 am

Hi John,

Very wise words to not put all of your eggs in one basket. Google is a business, and they will look out for themselves first.

A couple things I’d like to note. First, recently I noticed how in Google Search they now have two buttons on the upper right of the results that allow you to toggle showing what Google thinks are your personal results.

Secondly, I just found out about http://www.focusontheuser.org/. This is a tool to provide better results through a social networking context. From their FAQ: “This is a proof of concept built by some engineers at Facebook, Twitter and MySpace and in consultation with several other social networking companies that shows what is possible with social content in Google’s results.”

Anyways, my business goals only have niche sites as one pillar, so that I too am not banking on Google SERPs for my livelihood. It’s good to diversify.


John Hoff January 28, 2012 at 9:47 am

Hi Cynthia,

I followed you on Twitter and checked out some of your tweets. We have the Elf on the Shelf for our kids as well. Ours is named, Thomas the Elf. My wife’s friend has theirs do all kinds of funny stuff. One morning there will be crumbs of cookies laying around and a sheet pan sitting on top of the stove. Then they’ll open the freezer and their elf is sitting on top of the cookie dough. Pretty funny.

Interesting find on that site. If Google really does want to get social, then perhaps it should not have to require sites like Twitter to sign agreements and such.


WritersWritingWords (Eleni) January 27, 2012 at 1:49 am

…And find some time to read the new Google Privacy Policy –
because, as we say in Greece,
A man has to be careful about where he puts two things: his signature & sthg else (X-rated).

John, I agree – never, ever put your eggs all in one basket! Especially when you don’t have control over this basket.


John Hoff January 28, 2012 at 9:47 am

Some wise words, Eleni… on all accounts LOL


Mark February 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm

John you have voiced exactly what I have been thinking. Google+1 has fragmented everything further, it’s only going to get worse for us, having to work harder and harder. Take the money and put it into something you can control better. Real estate for sure!


John Hoff February 22, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Hi Mark. Yeah it’s really hard for me to keep investing in something which changes and penalizes you so often. At least with Real Estate I can typically calculate every dollar.


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