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Does Google Have Too Much Power Over Entrepreneurs?

Posted September 5, 2013 by Irene Kotov in On the Ladder
Recently I’ve been wrestling with this question – does Google need to be regulated more closely?

These thoughts began innocently enough. A few months ago I noticed that my rankings on Google nosedived. It was not a major catastrophe, but enough of a slide to put a noticeable dent in my sales.

Turns out, the latest Google update affected some of the key pages on my website because of a combination of structural factors. Things were not linked properly and new pages were not indexing how they should be.

In the big picture scheme of things, it was not a big deal. With the help of an SEO expert I made a few tweaks to the website and the rankings have been heading North ever since.

But this experience made me wonder – why Google has the right to impact my business like that?

How Much Power?

I’m in no way, shape or form saying that Google’s ongoing algorithm updates as part of its crusade against spam on the Internet should be held back.

In fact, I’m all up for that.

What I am questioning, however, is whether Google is heading towards the role of a dictator. And whether that will work in a world which embraces democracy and recognizes the need for checks and balances in any system (or organization) which wields a considerable amount of power.

Splits Of Power.

Look at our governments. Their split into Judicial, Legislative and Executive branches exists to (theoretically at least) separate decision-making in a way which allows priorities to be weighed and interests of broader communities to be taken into account.

However, if Google was a loose model for a new type of national governance, would it  be one that we would readily embrace? In other words, would we want to be ruled by a CEO and his Board of Directors?

As democratic nations we identify with a need not to put too much power into the hands of one entity, so I think we’d view that option with a healthy degree of distrust.

But these days Google, arguably, can have more impact on business communities than governments. Moreover, I think that we’re seeing the mere beginnings of its growth.

Sing And Dance.

When Matt Cutts appears on YouTube and announces new changes to the algorithm, we watch and listen with the intention of adjusting our businesses to Google’s rules. To put it more bluntly, we have little choice, but to sing and dance to whatever tune Google decides to play.

But, would we tolerate that from a Prime Minister? A President? Well, we might – for a while – but at the next election time the people  would  make a choice whether that person gets to continue to represent their needs, or not.

Do we have that option with Google? Well, you might say that we’re not comparing apples with apples here – Google is a company, not a political party. And, if you don’t want to use their services then don’t – right?

Do You Have Choice?

The truth, however, is that Google has long ceased to be a regular company. The old cliche “If you’re not on Google, you don’t exist” points to Google having a monopoly in the entrepreneur community which no other company enjoys.

On paper, it’s still a public company (and theoretically we do have an option not to use it) but in reality  it’s long crossed over into the realm of governance and the choice not to use Google would create a significant disadvantage for a business that takes that option.

This means that Google now has power to regulate business communities all around the world. So, who is regulating Google? And does anyone need to?

Power Is Not The Issue.

I’m not raising this point because I’m concerned about power. For me, it’s about trust.

Do I trust Google to represent my business (and personal) needs? Well, actually, for now I do.

That’s why this article is not a polemic, but rather an inquiry into an issue which I think we need to address in the very near future. And, we need to start thinking about it now.

What are your thoughts?

About the Author

Irene Kotov

Irene Kotov is the founder Arielle Careers and she helps senior executives get jobs in exciting companies. You can catch up with her on Google+.