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December 18, 2012

Ex-Google Employee: “Google’s an Ad Company”

James Whittaker is a bit disillusioned with Google. He has good
reason – he used to work there.

At first, James was in love with the energy of the place – like so many others, he was swept away by the hip new culture of innovation and excitement that the company fostered within its walls. He drank the search giant’s Kool Aid, and he became extremely passionate about Google almost as soon as he began his post there.

James said the decision to leave his job at Google was not an easy one. He was a keynote speaker, helped out from time to time by adding content to Google’s developer blog, and did a range of other things related to his position that anyone would consider “above and beyond” the scope of his regular job duties.

James really did love what he did.

Then, something inside him shifted. He lost the love. According to James, “No one had to ask me twice to promote Google and no one was more surprised than me when I could no longer do so. In fact, my last three months working for Google was a whirlwind of desperation, trying in vain to get my passion back.”

Back in March of this year, Whittaker wrote a blog post about the whole experience that shed some serious light on Google’s motives and true agenda. He offers up a disclaimer at the beginning of the post: nothing he says in it reveals trade secrets. Bummer, but the silver lining is much of the post does confirm suspicions that many in the SEO community have had for years now.

“Google’s Changed.”

So, what changes sent Whittaker over the edge? According to his post, Google’s innovative projects began shutting down one by one to make way for more lucrative endeavors. He gave the example of Google Labs shutting down. Then, he was alarmed to discover that App Engine fees were raised as well. Whittaker was also discouraged by the fact that APIs, which had once been free, were suddenly either deprecated or offered for a fee.

According to James, Google’s new agenda was all about competing with Facebook. To him, it seemed that Google was shelving everything to singularly focus on fighting its greatest tech foe. This was the demise of the old Google. The company was once all about creativity and innovation, but it now had adopted a competitive new face. Instead of listening to and encouraging employees to create, stakeholders and corporate entities had the bullhorn, and they were screaming about social.

This next part of James’ blog post is incredibly intriguing. It may be best to use his own words here to achieve the fullest force of impact:

“Officially, Google declared that “sharing is broken on the web” and nothing but the full force of our collective minds around Google+ could fix it. You have to admire a company willing to sacrifice sacred cows and rally its talent behind a threat to its business.”

Wow. Powerful stuff. Google used its influence as a bully pulpit to convince the Internet at large that sharing was fragmented; a broken shell of what it could be (with Google’s help, of course). The company needed to perpetuate this fallacy in order to introduce their social network, Google+, and sell it as the answer to the “problem” they conveniently created.

James said he hardcore bought into the hype. He said many of his peers did as well – they wanted to be part of something great that would better the Internet. He worked as a development director, and he helped to create the Google+ we know and use today. However, he learned that social networking wasn’t broken at all – people were (and are) using Facebook and Twitter just fine, no Google intervention necessary. Google simply wanted to dominate another corner of the Web that it was missing out on, and James felt as if he was simply a pawn, something Google used to help close the social gap and get in on the action.

Looking Out for #1

From James’ standpoint, Google created its social network for selfish reasons. Google is an ad company after all, and mining personal data is how the search giant keeps the lights on. What better way to convince people to voluntarily offer up their personal data 24/7 than to build a social network? Google saw Facebook doing it with wild success, and the competition gene set in.

So, if you’re a webmaster, how does this relate to you? Bottom line: Google is mining a ton of info from your G+ profile (if you have one), and it’s using the data to sell to you in a much more targeted way. Google’s so dead-set on enticing social networkers to use their service that they’ve woven it into search. For example, Google Authorship is tied to your G+ profile and appears in search results right beside content you’ve authored. G also uses links you’ve included in your profile to create a “map” of your presence online.

Believe it or not, if you’re a webmaster, it’s actually good to give Google as much info about yourself, your websites, and your online activities as possible. Some SEO experts even think advertising your identity this way will even help you in the SERPs.

If you’re an everyday Internet user, however, the same rules may not apply. If you choose to use Google+, make sure you’re aware of what you’re selling in return for use of the service. “Free” may be more pricey than you think.

Nell Terry is a tech news junkie, fledgling Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She thrives on social media, web design, and uncovering the truth about all the newest marketing fads that pop up all over the ‘net. Find out more about Nell by visiting her online portfolio at Content by Nell.