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The Google-shaped Web A Tale of Cats & Parasites

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The Google-shaped Web A Tale of Cats & Parasites Barry Adams Polemic Digital June 2014


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About Barry Adams Freelance SEO consultant Polemic Digital (July 2014) Dutch (yes, really) Twitter ranter: @badams Lecturer on SEO & Digital Strategy Editor & blogger for StateofDigital.com Also blogs at PolemicDigital.com


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In The Beginning...


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Web Search’s Symbiotic Contract “We scrape your content, you get free traffic.” Source: http://xxtremorxx.deviantart.com/


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Google’s Version “We scrape your content and if we like it enough, we’ll keep your traffic too.” Source: http://revafallarts.deviantart.com/


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How did we get here...? Google was the first truly dominant search engine As a result, webmasters do whatever they can to get in to Google’s good graces Google realises that this can be used to its advantage...


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“Power corrupts. Absolute power... is kind of neat.” - Donald Regan, US Chief of Staff, 1987


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WWGD – What Would Google Do?


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Google recommendations Stuff Google likes: Optimised titles & meta Unique, plain text content Human-readable URLs Responsive websites XML sitemaps Structured data Nofollowed links Disavow files SSL ... Stuff Google dislikes: Bog-standard content Shockwave Flash Content embedded in images Active link acquisition Separate mobile sites Unrestricted linking Content in (iPhone) apps More than 3 ads on a page Spam (whatever Google says it is) ...


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UX vs GX User Experience <> Google Experience Most of Google’s recommendations are good for UX too But some are purely for the benefit of Google And these latter ones are becoming more frequent


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Google decrees Stuff Google likes: Optimised titles & meta Unique, plain text content Human-readable URLs Responsive websites XML sitemaps Structured data Nofollowed links Disavow files SSL ... Stuff Google dislikes: Bog-standard content Shockwave Flash Content embedded in images Active link acquisition Separate mobile sites Unrestricted linking Content in (iPhone) apps More than 3 ads on a page Spam (whatever Google says it is) ...


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The inevitable end result... Rather than Google adapting to the way the web is evolving... ... the web is evolving the way Google wants. The free & open World Wide Web is becoming the restricted Google-Shaped Web.


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Wait, It Gets Worse


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First, a biology lesson


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Toxoplasma Gondii “A convincing body of evidence now exists to indicate that the ubiquitous protozoan Toxoplasma gondii can cause permanent behavioral changes in its host...” “Such behavioral alterations appear to be the product of strong selective pressures for the parasite to enhance transmission from its intermediate host reservoir, primarily rodent, to its feline definitive host...” Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2526137/


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In layman’s terms Toxoplasma gondii infects a rodent and alters the host’s brain patterns & behaviour; The rodent becomes more active and prone to exploring open areas; As a result of this behaviour, the likelihood of the rodent being eaten by a cat increases; When a cat eats the infected rodent, Toxoplasma gondii infects the cat – its definitive host.


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Sound familiar?


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Google has infected the web Google is both parasite and cat; Google’s recommendations are memes it uses to infect us We are altering our behaviour to make our information more easily accessible to Google This enables Google to prey on our business models and take over profitable niches


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“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” - Pablo Picasso


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To end on a cheerful note... “Toxoplasma gondii is the most common protozoan parasite in developed nations. Up to 80% of the population may be infected, depending on eating habits and exposure to cats.” “When infected human adults were compared with uninfected adults on personality questionnaires or on a panel of behavioral tests, several differences were found.” Source: http://schizophreniabulletin.oxfordjournals.org/content/33/3/757.full


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Thank You barry@polemicdigital.com www.polemicdigital.com twitter.com/badams


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