Just Say No to Google Opportunism


Hugo Guzman, whom I consider both a great guy and a knowledge SEO expert, has written a very disappointing article called “Just Say No to Google Bashing“. It’s a reaction to the outcry against turning Google Shopping into a “paid inclusion” only search vertical.

I chose to comment on that post over at Inbound because I still hope the community can be used for actual debates (what sadly rarely happens). It seems nobody has read my comment or if someone did nobody cared to react. Thus I’d like to reply to that post again here on SEO 2.0 and elaborate a little.

I chose to call this post “Just Say No Google Opportunism” because to me it’s what Hugo Guzman has been advocating here, opportunism in the face of an almighty Google.

Let me cite the definition of opportunism first so that we know what I’m talking about. I rarely use Wikipedia as a source but this time they explain the term better than the dictionaries. It goes beyond the simple explanation to state:

“Human opportunism should not be confused with “seeking opportunities” as such, or “making use of opportunities when they arise”. Opportunism refers rather to a specific way of responding to opportunities, which involves the element of self-interestedness plus disregard for relevant (ethical) principles, for intended or previously agreed goals, or for the shared concerns of a group.”

Before I try to show why Google opportunism is the wrong approach I’d like to summarize the point Hugo makes in his post as far as I understand them:

  1. In case you want to engage in some kind of activism you’d rather have to deal with authoritarian regimes in Africa or the Middle East who commit real crimes.
  2. It doesn’t make sense to criticize Google’s decisions, instead you have to adapt to the new situation no matter how difficult it may be
  3. Attacking Google is a waste of time and effort. You have to shut up and optimize even harder instead.

Most notably we should be thankful for any “free traffic” Google gives us and whenever the search giant decides to make us pay for that previously free traffic we can’t blame them for that change as far as I get Hugo’s message right.

Before I go into details, let me cite my comment from Inbound which is a concise way of expressing my opinion here (I added some text decoration):


I don’t agree with this stance. Calling out criticism of Google as “bashing” doesn’t make sense. Not everybody can make some impact in Africa etc. but you can change the world right where you are. In order to do so you have to point out power structures and bad decisions behind closed doors.

Also the argument that it’s free traffic and thus we can’t blame Google is just weird. Imagine that in real life: just one company deciding where the streets are leading to and changing the city map over night so there is no traffic to your shop anymore. Well, it’s just free traffic, isn’t it? So why don’t we abolish democracy and let Google decide everything by itself?

Shutting your mouth and letting the top down monopolist do everything by itself is just plain naive.

Google controls the global information infrastructure while being a for profit corporation that doesn’t care about you and me. So the only [way] to do something about is to care yourself and to speak out where possible. Arguing that’s it’s enough to fight for the few breadcrumbs Google is leaving for us while talking most for itself is also pretty selfish.

What happened with Google Shopping is that Google has over the years pushed down most of the other [shopping] search engines and now capitalizes on being on top itself.

It’s no accident that Google is under scrutiny by lawmakers all over the world and it’s not just “bashing”. Imagine one company owning the global transport system and making you pay for it over night. How dystopian.


There is no such thing as free traffic. You have to invest lots of time, effort and ultimately money to rank on Google so that organic search traffic is paid for as well. Also the traffic is there no matter whether Google exists or not. In case Google would disappear tonight I bet the traffic would still be around but people would be using other channels like Bing, Facebook or whatever means of finding what they want online.

Google does not create the traffic, it just channels it.

Google is a gate keeper. The flow of traffic exist regardless of Google. So don’t thank the gate keeper that there is water, thank God for the free flow of water or traffic. In case the gate keeper decides to block the flow.

I will blame him for making me thirsty instead of fighting the others who are dying of thirst as well. Now that we are talking about dying: So you think people are only dying in Africa and the Middle East? So we’d rather have to join the armed forces and drive the tyrants out?

I don’t think so. We can influence the world right where we are. Also there is no such thing as “the real issues”. We don’t have to wait until people die to speak out against injustice. Just take a look at Apple and their slave labor practices in China. Nobody cared until dozens of people started dying.

Are people already dying because of Google?

Well, there are enough shattered businesses already because of so called Google updates and penalties. I hear rumors of small business owners committing suicide after being hit by Google changes from time to time. Even if there are no suicides yet we know that companies get out of  business and employees get sacked because of the changes Google introduces quite often.

When one corporation rules a whole sector or even worse, almost the whole access to information in a society like Google does in many countries, it ceases to be just a matter of business and it starts to be the domain of law and politics.

A democratic society can’t allow one company to decide about the world’s information. So just say no to Google opportunism and speak out whenever the market dominance of Google turns ugly.

4 and half years ago I have written a short list of reasons to distrust Google. Most of the issues are even more pressing these days. In case you don’t want Exxon, Walmart or Google to decide what’s good for you make sure to raise your voice once it does.


* Creative Commons image by Marie-II