Google and the Law of Unintended Consequences
It is a fact of life that every action has a consequence; we’re all aware of this, but mostly we act under the belief that our actions will have a positive impact in one way or another. Unfortunately though, this is not always the case and the law of unintended consequences is an unavoidable and often darkly humorous reality of the human condition (my favourite example of which being the Streisand Effect, when someone’s (usually a celebrity’s) attempts to conceal something about their private life in reality leads to the fact being promoted vociferously accross the internet. Brilliant).
Whilst some of the most ridiculous – or perhaps best publicised – examples of unintended consequences are usually credited to governments (China anyone? The United States? Even the UK has had its moments!), Google seems to be doing its best to give the current reigning champions a run for their money. In fact, the entire dalliance played out between search engines and SEOs seems to be one big round of ‘how do we deal with this unintended consequence now?’. Or maybe I’m just being grumpy about it all; it has been known.
The giant of search started off its enterprise over 14 years ago with the laudable goal to bring the best possible results to anyone using their search engine for any given search term. Great! That’s exactly what we want, that’s what a search engine should be providing; so how are you going to do it…?
As with any other business, Google’s growth and dominance over the market has been a slow evolution (although slightly more evolutionary, seeing as they’re creating as they’re evolving) and to call it a learning curve would be an understatement, certainly from the point of view of the search engines but also from the point of view of the average folk using the search engines and those of us trying to cunningly manipulate them.
Every link in the evolutionary chain has been forged as the result of the one that went before it; so, there was an issue, Google created a solution, that caused an issue, Google created a solution and on it went, whilst all the while we poor SEOs tried to figure out how to make it work for our clients and look like we know what we were talking about, preferably at the same time.
In the ever changing world of the search engines, the law of unintended consequences is not so much an evolutionary quirk, popping up every now again to give us all a laugh, but rather the primary means of deciding policy and shaping the internet! Read more