Home / Google, Selling Out, Rigs Algorithms To Favor Big Business Over Small

Google, Selling Out, Rigs Algorithms To Favor Big Business Over Small

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Google changed its search algorithms to hurt my business, as well as other Realtors’ and real estate brokers’ businesses recently. It also hurts other small businesses, as well. I did wonder why my average of four to seven daily leads suddenly disappeared from my website, then I found out why in a recent Inman News article.

Google has chosen to favor big businesses, rather than smaller businesses who don’t have anywhere near the amount of capital that the larger ones do to pay for advertising, but Google’s new algorithms give them better rankings, which is the equivalent to free advertising. Instead of making big business pay, Google wants small businesses, such as real estate brokers and independent contractors to pay, even though they have far less capital to spend.

Google should start paying people to submit to its search engine. After all, it is going to go public soon and without anything to search for a search engine is totally meaningless. Without its search engine, pay per click’s foundation would be shoddy at best.

Google should pay me $1,000 per link with my name in it if it’s going to unethically manipulate its algorithms to purposefully favor big business over my business, and I’m not kidding. You can quote me on that. Send me my check now, Google, for making your money off of my likeness that exists all over your search engine. You can pay me $25,000 for each time my family name, Mudd, exists in your search engine, as well. That includes Mudd Mask, Mudd Jeans or any other prominent Mudd name.

I will gladly stop insisting that Google pay me when Google stops rigging its search algorithm to favor MSN, HomeGain and other big businesses over us small-business, independent contractors. Google should compensate small businesses that it has hurt by rigging its algorithm to favor large business entities who have plenty of capital to pay for their own advertising. After all, without its entries, including small business entries, Google would be nothing. It should, therefore, not favor one over the other.

Here’s the article from Inman News:

    Google frequently changes its formulas for calculating the most relevant results in its Web searches. But recent changes in the rankings have dramatically reorganized the results and knocked some Web sites off the list altogether, Internet search gurus say.

    Glenn Weilbacher of GAW Associates, an Internet marketing agency that manages about 150 real estate Web sites, believes Google’s latest changes could have a crippling effect on Realtors who previously ranked on the first page of most real estate searches for their cities.

    “My customers are crying,” Weilbacher said. “I have Realtors making $200,000 to $300,000 from the Internet. Now they’ve lost 30 to 40 percent of their traffic.”
    Google is the go-to place for Internet search. The company, formed in 1998, quickly established itself as the prominent search engine for consistently relevant results. Eighty percent of Web searches start at Google, Yahoo!, MSN or AOL, according to a U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray study.

    Real estate brokers and agents who rely on Web traffic from Google know the search engine’s results vary from day to day. They also know just how vital Google Web site rankings are to scoring realty leads directly off the Web.

    Results for Google real estate searches last week showed a noticeable difference in rankings compared with previous results. For example, a search for “Boston homes” now turns up such large Web sites as the city’s newspaper, MSN’s city guide, a find-a-Realtor site powered by Realtor.com and other agent-finding Web sites like HomeGain. The search also returns individual broker and agent Web sites, but those are buried deep into page four of the rankings.

    A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the changes.

    According to Weilbacher, thousands of individual Realtor and broker Web sites have been knocked off the top pages of Google’s search results, which also power Yahoo! and AOL. The top pages now display mainly very large Web sites that contain hundreds of pages or have links to hundreds of other large Web sites, he said.

    “While these sites typically have a real estate section somewhere within their content, they are not the type of site that the home buyers are typically seeking when they search,” he believes.

    Weilbacher regularly collects data on his clients’ Google page rankings. His Oct. 21 report on a keyword search for “Colorado Springs real estate” showed the Web site “isellcoloradosprings.com” ranked on the first page. The same search a week later showed no sign of the Web site on the first five pages of results.

    Similar searches turn up similar results. For example, a search for “Los Angeles real estate” showed the Los Angeles Times’ real estate classified section and a handful of city guide sites.

    “The bottom line for however many thousands of Realtors who have Web sites is that all of a sudden their traffic from Google, Yahoo! and AOL has disappeared,” Weilbacher said.

    He speculated that Google changed the algorithm used to rank pages for search results about 10 days ago. The change caused real estate searches to turn up less relevant results in the top rankings, in his opinion.

    Weilbacher isn’t alone in noticing stark changes since Google’s latest update to its ranking methods. Search engine gurus have flooded online message boards with discussions about how the changes could affect search engine optimization techniques.

    Some critics speculate Google’s changes could signal a split between research and commerce on the Internet, and that businesses will have to use paid search programs like Overture and Google’s AdWords to appear in “sponsored link” search results while organic results will be reserved for non-commerce Web sites.

If Google is going to go public, it really should not rig its search algorithms. Doing so is synonymous with Enron’s cooking its books to rig bigger profits in the 1990s. I do feel that by rigging its algorithms in favor of larger businesses in order to gain a larger profit, Google has violated anti-trust regulations by creating an unfair marketplace via its search engine.

Google’s popularity is based on its purity. Once it sells out, it will begin to lose business like mad to Yahoo!‘s Overture and other Web advertising competitors. Why should I buy from Google if its search algorithms are designed to hurt my business?

That’s a question that Google apparently didn’t consider it would have to answer when rigging its algorithms to favor big business over small businesses all across America.

-John Mudd

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About Mr. Real Estate

  • anu

    Oh God – what is this nonsense ? Actually, it’s quite amusing, although I’m not sure that’s what the author had in mind.

    How much do you owe Google for sending traffic your way in the first place ?

    Do you have a contract with Google ? Exactly what do you think you are owed by this private company – prime position ? Why shouldn’t the LA Times classified have that position – why do you, or some other random little realtor have a greater right to the top spot ?

  • anu

    One more thing – if you really need the Google flow, use AdWords.

    Oh, and it’s spelt algorithm.

  • John Mudd

    What right does a larger company have to a top spot? It doesn’t have such a right, especially in a search engine, which is part of the public domain.

    Furthermore, how does Google giving larger companies that aren’t actually real estate companies serve home buyers or sellers seeking real estate services?

    It doesn’t.

    What it does do is create a monopoly for advertising services, but it does not serve home buyers or sellers seeking real estate services.

    It also hurts small businesses, including but not limited to real estate businesses. If Google is going to hurt my business by rigging its search algorythms, it should compensate me for the use of my name, wherever it is in the search engine. I own the rights to my name, not Google, therefore it doesn’t have the right to manipulate it in its search engine. Does Google have a contract with me to manipulate where it places me in its search engine? No.

    You may not be familiar with the right to fair use, and perhaps neither is Google. I’m not sure that Google’s rigging of algorythms is fair to the general public, and it is a search engine, making it public domain to a certain degree.

    By hurting my business, Google isn’t encouraging me to buy ad space, either. If I do buy I won’t buy from Google because of its recent actions. I’ll buy from Overture.

    If the larger companies paid for the better rankings, that is one thing, for Google to hurt one group of businesses to favor another is another thing.

    Search engines are portals for use by the public domain. They should, therefore, serve the general public. When someone is looking to buy a home they are looking for homes, not HomeGain, but Google is ignoring what the public wants, hoping Realtors and brokers will buy text ads. This is an unfair practice, at best.

    When it goes public I think I’ll buy Google stock. Search engines really should be level playing fields made to serve the public, not give wealthy companies high search engine rankings free of charge to extort a certain group of people to buy AdSense ads.

    I would suggest educating yourself on the issue entirely before calling it nonsense. You won’t be calling it nonsense when the National Association Realtors gets Congress to pass legislation prohibiting such activity. If Google continues this sort of thing don’t think it won’t happen, because it will.

  • I would suggest educating yourself on the issue entirely before calling it nonsense. You won’t be calling it nonsense when the National Association Realtors gets Congress to pass legislation prohibiting such activity. If Google continues this sort of thing don’t think it won’t happen, because it will.

    uh oh…i think i can see mr. barger’s forehead vein throbbing from way up here.

  • John Mudd

    Google can give me free AdWords. Mudd Jeans AdWords ads come up when my name is typed in Google. Google is therefore earning income from my name by selling ad space to a Mudd Jeans seller. However, I am not compensated even though Google is actually profiting from my name.

    I did not give Google the right to use my name to serve its clients, but Google is profiting from using my name.

    Google owes me for profitting from the use of my name to sell AdWords. It actually owes quite a few people for that.

    If search engines are going to use unethical practices in order to make a profit, the government will simply have to regulate them.

    A search engine, which is public domain, should not be able to rig its search rankings to coerce a group of people to purchase AdWords or AdSense. It does appear that Google is doing this, though.

    Tell me, sir, do you work for Google?

  • John, thanks for raising an important issue for discussion, i.e., the recent change by Google in how it indexes sites.

    Check out Scroogle: http://www.scroogle.org.

    It tells you the position your site would have had with a search term before and after the recent Google changes.

    Also, this phenom is hitting just about every industry hard. For more background, see http://www.searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3114531

  • John Mudd

    Here’s a snippet from a Fast Company article on Google:

    For now, though, most of the cars in the lot outside Google’s modest offices in a Mountain View, California office park are beat-up Volvos and Subarus, not Porsches. And while Googlers may relish their shot at impossible wealth, they appear driven more by the quest for impossible perfection. They want to build something that searches every bit of information on the Web. More important, they want to deliver exactly what the user is looking for, every time.

    When the user is looking for homes, though, Google now forces the user to find the L.A. Times, HomeGain or something else not directly related to homes that are currently on the market. What happened, Google?

    Google may be able to one day write a book called: “How We Lost Mindshare and Marketshare to Yahoo!-Overture by Going Public Too Fast”.

    When you alienate one stakeholder directly, you often alienate more, albeit indirectly, usually making you lose more in the long run. Perhaps Google isn’t ready to go public, after all.

    Google’s real purpose doesn’t appear to be a search engine, anyway. It appears to be an information-gatherer, allowing Google to potentially sell user information to the highest bidder. That cookie they have is pretty powerful. Some say it’s not even legal.

  • John Mudd

    Thanks for the links, Anita.

    If it’s hitting every industry hard, guess what that means Google apologists? Their trade groups will lobby the federal government to force Google to get its act together.

    Google, kiss your dream of successfully going public goodbye for now. You have a lot of making up to do with your publics – your stakeholders.

    Better do it quick before this gets into the media…but it might be too late.

    Everyone Google has hurt will naturally line up behind Yahoo!-Overture, an alliance which will be able to knock Google out of business if Google doesn’t quickly change its ways.

  • Ultimately I don’t think this is that much of a legal issue. We are talking about a company that searches, collects, and outputs information. They should be able to output it however they want in my opinion.

    Everyone is going about this the right way. They came across in a certain way. Their changes are unfavorable to large numbers of consumers. The fragmented consumers mobilize by putting up informational websites and if changes aren’t made then they will act by switching to Yahoo or some other company. Ball is in their court. Make changes or else. They have the right to screw up their business and lose visitors.

    Isn’t that kind of the natural progression of things?

  • jadester

    remember the dot com bubble, and its bursting? remember how many hundreds, maybe thousands, of “business” websites had no real business model – no way of making money.
    Google needs to make money somehow. As long as they don’t hide the fact from users that search rankings are affected by how much sites pay to get their ranking
    I think all search engines take advertising money to improve advertisers’ rankings. How the hell would they stay in business otherwise? it’s not like they get public funding or donations.

  • John Mudd


    It is, Craig, but for a company that was planning on going public, alienating the people who benefit from its existence just doesn’t seem to smart.

    If they were public, a change like this could have destroyed them.

    If no one would have noticed it wouldn’t be hurting them now, but everyone noticed and they aren’t happy.

    It was a stupid move, plain and simple. My business suffered from their move and I’m not happy. The first amendment gives me the right to tell the world about it if I want to, and I want to, so I’m going to.

    If they do it again I’m writing a book. I’m not kidding.

  • John Mudd

    Google can make money without using coercive, unethical tactics, thank you.

    It will lose money due to its recent algorithm change, as it has alienated a huge number of its stakeholders.

    Business and industry need to make money, too. When Google understands that, perhaps business and industry will share some of its profits with Google.

    I’m not buying anything from them for this shady maneuver, unless they pay me for profiting from my name’s use and give me some free ads. Google hurt my business, and many others’ businesses, too. It also hurt consumers. It has to make up for it, plain and simple.

    If it doesn’t, we’ll all go over to Yahoo!-Overture and turn it into the next Google.

  • John Mudd, you cannot trademark, copyright, or otherwise protect a name. I read it in a legal column a few years back when a sergeant named Slaughter wanted to trademark “Sgt. Slaughter” to end jokes from friends about the wrestler.

    Why is it illegal to do something mean? Licensees of Google have a right to sue, as they’ve paid to use the site, but those of us who use it for free have no legal recourse. I trust Google will fix their problems anyway. I’ve read enough about the founders and CEO to trust them.

  • John, you’re wrong, totally and completely. You have NO legitimate issue AT ALL. Google doesn’t owe you a damned thing.

    I might tend to be sympathetic to somebody worried about business, but the aggressive irrationality and hostility of your post, and the (empty) threat of force frankly makes me more inclined to simply rebuke you.

    For starters, you broadly claim that they have done something to cut you little guys out of the loop, but have made not even a claim as to what they have specifically done. All you know is that you’re not getting the pole position that you were used to. From there you simply ASSume some nefarious plot to screw you.

    Perhaps the Powers That Be at Google have decided that people searching for real estate would rather start at a general real estate page rather than with a specific agent. That seems sensible to me, but I won’t presume to know their business. If they are wrong, then people can go to other search engines, or the yellow pages, or any number of other ways to find what they want.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, who the hell do you think you are to presume to force search engines to give you the ranking that you want on THEIR search engine- or to list you AT ALL?

    Your cheap Nietzchean slave morality resentment does not impress. Your empty threats of government intervention are laughable. What kind of supposed conservative Republican has so little regard for private property as to demand federal micromanagement of the alogrithms of search engines to guarantee the results that THEY want?

    Your claims of oppression by the big guys are particularly unimpressive considering the cheap targeted advertising available from Google. Their AdWords program charges only for click-throughs, and last I checked you could be getting in on those for as little as a nickel a throw. Not only that, but you can set ad budgets within the program so that you don’t spend more than you can afford- as little as a dollar or two.

    In short, quit you goddam whining.

    PS Your claim that Google owes you money because you have the same last name as a brand of jeans may be the stupidest one statement I’ve ever read on Blogcritics.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Sorry for your loss of a bunch of referrals that you didn’t have to work for. Perhaps a business plan utilizing the Net in some other, more creative manner should be undertaken.
    I’d advise it, because Johnny Cochran himself couldn’t get a dime out of Google based on your silly arguments.

    Seems to me you were lucky to get all those hits over the years.

  • John Mudd

    Oh, sure, everyone gang up on the little guy. πŸ˜‰


    From the comments it appears that the responses were more emotional rather than logical, so I’ll just take them for what they are.

    (1) No one said anything about filing suit against Google.

    (2) Al there is an issue, and if you had a clue you would see it, rather than libeling me and defending Google.

    If you’re going to argue, please throw facts, not stones. Thank you.

    It’s been documented that Google’s algorithm change upset both consumers who use Google and businesses who are indexed in Google.

    Perhaps instead of flaming me you should visit Google and do some reaserch on the issue. As far as Google’s algorithm change hurting my business, it did hurt my business, and I can express whatever disappointment toward them that I please. It’s called the First Amendment.

    They can do whatever they want and if it’s shady and unethical, I can call it that. If I would have ever manipulated mortgage paperwork for a homebuyer client, I would have lost my real estate license, because it’s manipulation and manipulation is unethical and shady (and illegal in most professions). Perhaps Google should lose its license for manipulating its algorithms to coerce various businesses to by AdWords or AdSense. Oh, wait! Search engines don’t have to have licenses or ethical codes to operate! Perhaps they should.

    It’s okay to be unethical, though, right, Al, as long as you own Enron..err..I mean the business? It’s okay to hurt other businesses who have helped you to build your business if it helps your business, right? I think Enron thought that, but they’re leaders have mostly been sentenced, I think.

    Google has yet to prove that what I have said is wrong. When it does I’ll be happy to retract my statement. I’m sure so will everyone else who has thought the same thing I did.


  • John Mudd

    Well, I must be doing something right, because every time someone comments, my ranking increases.


  • There is no comparison between fraudulently “trading” energy in a market that is monitored by the SEC and creating a VOLUNTARY service that compiles publicly available information on the web.

    The only point I think you have is that you have the right to complain. You also have the right to say that Google should do something better or differently. The difference is they are in no way obligated by expectations of consumers or government to run their business in any way.

  • John Mudd

    Good point, Craig.

    They aren’t obligated, but it won’t have a positive impact on them in the long run, because they’ve just alienated a lot of people.

    If I ever do buy text ads, I will buy Yahoo!-Overture. Yahoo! brings me more traffic than Google does, anyway, which is really quite surprising.

  • To think any *one* website or person is the focus and/or fixation of the Google programmers is silly and should be totally dismissed.

    Yeah, ok, maybe if someone is spamming, using bogus mirrors and fake entrance pages then Google will ban their IPs and websites from the index, but then that is what the Google programmers are focused on, not on moving traffic away from “the little guy” to put in the hands of the paid advertisers … or any other perceived agenda or conspiracy. I chuckle almost every time I read folks suggesting this.

    Google has a primary purpose in delivering the most relevant search results. Without that then they’ll end up like Alta Vista, Yahoo and other has beens.

    If I’m looking for “real estate agents” that’s different than searching for “real estate” — If your website comes up unrelated for what I’m actually looking for then I’m not going to think the search engine — Google — did not their job. The converse is true as well if I’m looking for you. I would suggest that you are probably getting more traffic you shouldn’t be getting to offset the traffic that you probably should. It balances itself out.

    John Mudd Real Estate turns you up as #1 which sounds like the search engine is doing its job just fine.

    Now if you were page 100 for these terms, then there might be a scintilla of legitimacy to this post, but instead, sorry, it just sounds like sour grapes to me.

    With all that said, you are right, you are picking up some additional relevance from this post, so kudos to you there! πŸ™‚

  • I’m not going to think the search engine — Google — did not their job. should read: “I’m not going to think the search engine — Google — did their job”


  • John Mudd

    Those are all very good points, David.

    I was basing my complaint on Inman News’s article, actually, which may not pertain to me at all since I am a blogger.

    My concern was that people looking for “Tampa Bay homes” or something similar may find the Tampa Bay Devil Rays or Tampa Bay Buaccaneers websites first, rather than finding real estate websites with homes in Tampa Bay. I have run the search for those terms in Google and had that happen.

    It’s been interesting to see everyone’s views of Google.

  • Now see if you do a search for “David” then you won’t find me or my websites. But if you do a search for my name: “TDavid” then what do you find?


    David is too common a name to try and target … thus the addition of the “T”, even though many people make the mistake of dropping the “T”.

  • John Mudd

    Now that’s smart targeting.

  • jadester

    i would also point out that the dodgy sites which had the same “dialler” program on them that had somehow managed to get top rankings for ALOT of search terms are now in many cases far nearer the bottom of search results for the same keywords. they are highly dodgy sites, they make out the dialler is for some service that allows you to get warez, porn, cracks, hacks etc. for free but even if it’s not it’s going to be some kind of scam, probably run by criminals. It was also annoying because recently more and more mirror sites had popped up (altho at least they used the same keyword pattern so you could spot them and not visit them)
    I would also ask you, just for a moment, to consider the job of coming up with a new search algorithm and/or improving an existing one. Think of all the material out there on the ‘net, and what happens every time you do a search. Now, when an algorithm is changed, of course rankings are too, but the Google people aren’t stupid, they aren’t going to intentionally alienate a huge proportion of they market/users just to suck up to a few big corporations
    You know, here in england, we have a free telephone directory for businesses called the Yellow Pages. Some companies have large ads, half a page or even a full page, because they pay for it. No-one kicks up a stink, because getting listed is free, you only have to pay if you want an ad (many companies *do* pay but that’s beside the point)

  • John Mudd

    That’s a good point, and a good thing Google has done.

    You also get free health care coverage in England. I have to choose between diabetic care supplies and paying for my marketing, so my marketing budget is limited. If I buy diabetic care supplies I get to live, so I buy them instead of buying Google per-click ads.

    Although, if Google paid for my diabetic care supplies, I would be happy to buy per-click ads. I don’t foresee that happening, though.


  • BB

    John you mentioned the word “monopoly” but you didn’t take it to next level. Like most I am completely dependent on Google and couldn’t imagine the net without it. BUT, I am concerned with any organization that has such a good product that there are no real competitors. We don’t need another Microsoft and perhaps that is why Billy Boy is interested in acquiring it? Nevertheless, now that Google is contemplating going public, for that very reason I too am apprehensive. And if Google is indeed diddling with its algorithms in favor of big business I have to agree that it is hurting the very people that helped build its enterprise. That might not necessarily be illegal but its ethics is certainly questionable. But then again when it comes to big business in the real world ethics generally takes a back seat to the almighty dollar. However, if a manufacturer or service provider does indeed have a monopoly it is incumbent upon it to make every precaution that its product is provided on a level playing field (notwithstanding group rates, etc.) With respect to Nick’s comment “you cannot trademark, copyright, or otherwise protect a name”, the short answer is – yes you can and its called McDonald’s, albeit it is agreeably very difficult to do so.

  • According to this month’s Wired, Amazon’s new algorithms, particularly its search every word in a book function, raises the ante among portals and major sites in the opposite way — it makes small sales count because they become large in aggregate, a plus for small businesses, particularly publishers. That makes me wonder if Google has an ancillary plan that may create the same kind of less is more result. That could actually favor small businesses. Alternatively, it seems to me some kind of grouping together could offset the higher priority of large advertisers. For example, a city’s trial lawyers association could buy the ad instead of its members.

  • John Mudd

    Thanks for the insight, MD. It’s great, as usual.


  • Jadester, money paid by companies does not in any way influence the rankings at Google. Adwords are commercial, the regular rankings are not. That has been clear since the beginning, and is one of the several reasons that Google is #1 with a bullet.

    John, you ranking continues to rise because every time you post a new post you end up with about three links tying your name to your site. while the comments here are linked to your email address, I note that your more recent comments are also linked to your site. Those things help. In fact, I suggest streamlining things so that your URL is updated in Blogcritics to point directly to your root domain, not the subpage.

    Google is not profiting from your name. They are profiting from the name of Mudd Jeans, or really from the fact that a random web surfer typed ‘Mudd’ into a search engine.

    When I type ‘Mudd’ into Goodle, what are the odds I, the average web surfer, am looking for your real estate site? Infinitesimal. I’m looking for the shoes or the jeans or maybe the band.

    You are confusing so many issues here it would take a while to straighten you out even if you listened carefully. ‘Fair Use’ it a legal term that is not directly related to what you think is fair. A search engine is not in the public domain by any stretch of the imagination. And Google will not be regulated by Congress.

    Listen to yourself! You sound hysterical! And inconsistent, at that. If the big companies truly are favored over the little guys now, do you really think that Congress would care? Are you little guys giving more money to election campaigns than the big companies? Ha!

    I also typed in ‘tampa bay real estate’ and got very good results, exactly what I would hope for as a random web surfer. No problems here, Google is still working.

  • All very good points.

    I did actually notice that during the months I post more on real estate items here at Blogcritics I do get more leads for buyers from my website.

    The algorithm change appears to have affected blatant Google bombers more than anyone else, hence my recent post.

    You may also be looking for Puddle of Mudd, or Mudvayne, which also pulls my blog up.

    Congress probably won’t care. Their members are usually the #1 search ranking in Google regardless of an algorithm change, anyway. Plus, Google has plenty of cool free things they can use to get their way with Washingtonians.

    I don’t sound hysterical. I sound like someone who’s trying to stimulate public debate for the sake of increasing my ranking and Blogcritics’ ranking in Google. πŸ˜‰


  • This is a load of nonsense. Does he not realize that in order to gain the top spot, the number of links is the main deciding factor….. Its not MSN’s fault that tens, if not hundreds of thousands of other sites link to it.