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May 9, 2011

HubPages CEO: Google has a big, fat double standard

Paul Edmundson, the chief executive officer of HubPages, says a recent internal initiative to toughen Google’s search algorithm (nicknamed Panda) has punished legitimate sites with user-generated content (like the one he runs) as well as dubious content farms, while sparing Google’s own properties:

Google’s recent “Panda” update intentionally upends this ecosystem; it doesn’t just lower the rankings of individual pages that the algorithm deems “low quality” (however that may be defined by Google) but, as Google has said publicly, “low-quality [page] content [on the domain] can impact an entire domain.” This means that high-quality content hosted on open publishing platforms like HubPages and YouTube can be negatively impacted in their search rankings simply by hosting contributions of various quality on a single site.

HubPages has seen a negative impact from this change, but so far YouTube has not (Search Metrics Winners). One presumes Google isn’t treating its own affiliated sites differently than any other site, but YouTube’s open publishing environment makes low-quality content as prevalent as on any other moderated open publishing platform. Google shows over 13 million indexed videos on YouTube for lose weight (known spammy area) and over 10 million for forex (another spammy area). Apparently, Google’s Panda update has been punitive only to platforms other than Google’s.

Surprise, surprise… Google treats its own properties differently than it treats others. This has actually been going on for years, but Google is rarely taken to task for it. Most of the complaints that have been made about the practice have come from Google’s competition. As Google has entered an increasing number of markets over the years, it now has a great many competitors in many different areas.

Google’s practices wouldn’t be so detrimental if it wasn’t so close to being a monopoly. Sadly, it has become synonymous with the idea of search, even though it is hardly the best or most intuitive search engine out there, let alone privacy-aware.

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