Google & Matt Cutts Get it Wrong: First Priority Should Be Webmasters

While Matt Cutts promised us that his recent post would be “boring”, I believe that it actually raised one of the most important questions regarding search ethics:

Our highest duty has to be to our users, not to an individual webmaster.
Matt Cutts

Unfortunately, Matt and the Googlers get this one very wrong. All relationships require some form of give and take. For a relationship to be properly functioning, it requires that consent be a prerequisite in that give and take.

The balance of give-and-take between users and Google is heavily tilted towards the user. In exchange for the possibility of me clicking on an advertisement at some point, with no promises, I can use Google’s search. The goods being exchanged here are search results and advertising.

The balance of the give-and-take between webmasters and Google, however, is heavily tilted towards Google in a non-consensual method. Theoretically, in exchange for the possibility of a user finding my website, I give Google access to my content. However, this is not actually a consensual relationship. Webmasters must take steps to prevent this transaction from occurring. Unless a webmasters knows of and actively employs the correct tools, tags, and code, this relationship will be formed without his/her consent.

Now Google has the audacity to consider taking even further control away from the webmaster by crippling the NOINDEX tag such that results still appear, sans description or title, in Google’s results. Webmasters would be forced to use Google’s proprietary tool set to exclude their URLs from the search engines.

What Google fails to recognize is that while they continue to rape and pillage webmasters and their content, the blackhat movement grows steadily behind the scenes. Google is making reasonable requests require unreasonable efforts. The more Google treats webmasters as second-class citizens, the more webmasters will ignore Google’s pleadings to use white-hat methods.

Making Webmasters a first priority would be quite simple, and would hardly impair Google’s ability to serve users.

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  1. Jeff Staub
    Feb 25, 2008

    Fundamental issue: Is the Internet not a democracy; by the people for the people?

    Who should lead this initiative that is the online community, the government; in this case webmasters who rule their small portions of the land, or the people; in this case Internet ‘users’ and web site visitors. Who’s interests do we trust?

    Black-Hat is driven by greed not altruistic motives and I think no amount of empowering of the greedy will lessen that greed.

    That being said, in this case it too is Google that is ruled by greed. The greed of comprehensive search results which has led them to assume they know what is best for the webmaster. If a webmaster institutes a NOINDEX tag then it is the responsibility of the webmaster to deal with the consequences be the site well-known or not. It is not up to Google to change the way things have always been done so that they can say they have the most comprehensive search results (and therefor the most pages showing relevant ad$ for those result$!)

    There are sites which do not want to be found by the search engines for privacy reasons, banishment of NOINDEX will seriously degrade overall online privacy. Making the peoplpe beholden to Google’s greedy needs unless they take action otherwise, namely by using Google based tools which require logins and potential PII issues.

  2. Chad
    Feb 25, 2008

    There’s a part of me that respects people who live in bomb shelters in the middle of Alabama with a dozen automatic weapons and who only pay cash for things. They have not gotten so comfortable with “System” that they are willing to let other people safeguard their personal freedoms.

    While I will probably not personally have too many reasons to noindex my content, it frustrates me that Google can sweep individuals’ rights under the carpet. It’s frustrating that most people don’t even know or care that this is happening.

  3. Webguy
    Feb 25, 2008

    Matt had it right the first time, the user comes first.

    Editors Note: Google owes nothing to the user. Google owes much to the content creator.

  4. Webguy
    Feb 25, 2008

    Common Sense Note: Without the user the “content” is……? You guessed it, nothing.

    Editors Note: Search engines are not the only way in which people find and access online content. Links, directories, type-in, etc. are still very common methods of bringing users to a site. I think the true common sense is that without content the search engine is nothing. The user and the webmaster will both exist independently of the two.

  5. Adrienne Doss
    Feb 25, 2008

    Considering that webmasters pay Matt’s salary, you’d think we’d get a little more consideration. The users he’s talking about don’t buy pay-per-click ads.

  6. Tim
    Feb 25, 2008

    Common Sense Note: Webmasters WANT visitors. They only noindex a page that has a REASON to not be indexed.

    I wonder if next they are going to start indexing 404 pages?

  7. Tom
    Feb 29, 2008

    The thought that some people in the world find information through directories is absurd and minority to say the least. On the whole users find stuff n the internet through search engines. I’d guarantee that about 95% of users on the web won’t even know what an internet directory is. So google holds all the cards, not the users, nor the content providers, and definitley not the websmasters. GOOGLE COMES FIRST. Harsh reality but its true.


  1. Google and the NOINDEX Tag « Internet Marketing Blog by Noon-an-Night - [...] duty has to be to our users, not to an individual webmaster.” However, in a post titled Google &…

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