Open Source Media Strategies

Nice Idea, Google!

About a month ago I launched an SEO tool named the Website Health Check tool. The launch was quite successful, so Google decided to block my tool, then added its features to Google Webmaster Central. You shouldn't artificially manipulate the link graph or screw with other people's sites, unless you are Google.

I can plumb around Google blocking it, but there are a limited number of types of webmaster tools that interface with search engines that can be provided to the general public without either being cloned by the search engine or having the search engine serve you some type of retribution for creating them.

Editorial judgements are rarely equitable, and nobody wants to have sitelinks, but have them appear at the top of the 5th page of the search results for their own brand.

New Media is a Key to Growth (ish)

I have never created a Facebook application and have no intent in doing so, because if I am successful they would likely steal my idea and find a way to ban or silence me and/or halt and clone my project. Which is sorta what Kevin Rose did to a Digg member who created an unofficial Digg group on Facebook.

The Transition From Open to Close

Sure that Google maps API is open today, and so are many other data sources, but after they buy enough marketshare look for that to change. The big networks are only open in markets they are losing. What did they do to their SOAP search API after they had enough market leverage? They killed it.

Relying on APIs or scraping data from someone else's platform only has value if you can aggregate it from many sources, do it in a way that is hard to block, add substantial value, have alternative data sources, and you are creating something that you know the data sources you are relying on will not clone for a strategic reason.

Wanted: Writer, Editor, & Marketer...Pay: $0

All these networks pretend that they care about you, but they are vultures. Their data is their data. Their ideas are their ideas....and so are your ideas, unfortunately. If you find yourself becoming someone else's user generated content, or your business can be described as a feature on someone else's product, you are wasting your time.

Published: December 14, 2007 by Aaron Wall in seo tools


December 14, 2007 - 8:07am

Hey Aaron,

Interesting post, I thought the tool was just down, not that Google had acted in this way.

You must be pretty pissed tbh, I know I would be but the thing that really annoys me about this story is how little development is actually put in to Webmaster tools considering how much Webmasters do for Google.

I like having the official Webmaster tools, they make me feel slightly more secure about the status of my site (even though the figures are likely skewed) but there is a hell of a lot of functionality and details that Google simply neglect to implement into it's own Webmaster tools.

I am aware the standard response from Google on that one is "We put it in Analytics" but everything about Analytics since launch has seemed a bit off to me, how long will it be before Google has farmed enough data and shuts it down? How long before they see an affiliate site has linked to mine, sent traffic and ban me?

I think the very thin ice Google has romantically been skating on with Wemasters is beginning to crack but I really don't want a situation where everyone is at war with each other because it will only make things worse. I hope at the very least Aaron you get an apology.

Dave Keffen
December 14, 2007 - 8:20am

Hi Aaron,

The things we used to love about Google seem to be changing fast. This is just another example of the corporate giant taking over from the principled approach that the founders once had.

The tool you made was so useful it was bound to have mimics, it's just very sad that no one had the courtesy to acknowledge the Website Health Check.

As Diablos says, none of us want a war, but it's getting harder for us to find good things to say about Google with this sort of thing going on.

Keep up the good work Aaron, the tool is the best thing to comge along for a long time.

December 14, 2007 - 11:20am

Really great article. You, among other leaders in this field, have come to convince me of this risk/opportunity over the last few months. But it's nice to have all the facts in one place :-)


P.S. Your last link seems to be wrong. Didn't you mean to link to CopyBlogger, a post with the same name?

December 14, 2007 - 11:21am

Sorry about that Alex...fixed the link.

December 14, 2007 - 2:52pm

Aaron, I can tell you Google's talked about adding these types of tools well before you launched your check last month. I've talked with the Google Webmaster Central team on ideas over the past year, and I can remember this being one of them from early on (and not even mind). It's just an obvious thing that you can provide. Indeed, Position Tech's had this type of tool since around 1999. It's also not the type of thing that Google just whips up in a month. They take ages to roll out new product features. Ages. So I really don't think it was stolen from you. Sucks about being blocked, though.

December 14, 2007 - 5:18pm

Thnx for the heads up Danny.

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