It seems like almost everyone in Big Business is looking for a bailout these days. That’s certainly true of several big brand media companies who, according to an AdAge article today, have told Google they deserve higher rankings in Google’s search results. Not only that, but one executive has also labeled the rest of the content-producing web — including bloggers like us — as “parasites” who “benefit disproportionately” from Google’s ranking algorithm.
This collection of media companies, AdAge reports, includes The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time Inc, Hearst, ESPN, and others — all of whom belong to Google’s Publishers Advisory Council.
(Did you even know Google had such a council? The article describes it as “a small, invitation-only group for professional publishers to pow-wow confidentially with the search giant.” Cue small publisher anger in 3…2…1.)
The big media companies’ complaints include:
- Google’s search algorithm in general, which they say “penalizes paid content”
- PageRank specifically, because it places too much of an emphasis on links
- The appearance of Google’s search results, which hurts big brands because every result looks the same
AdAge says the publishers are pushing their Automated Content Access Protocol (ACAP), a machine-readable language for indicating copyright permissions that online crawlers can understand, as a means to gain leverage on Google. But Google’s Josh Cohen recently dismissed ACAP:
“Acap only addresses the small minority of content owners and [it has] major technical issues. We can’t accept it in its current form. There are a number of challenges with Acap.”
The irony in all this, of course, is that Google’s so-called Vince update earlier this year supposedly promoted big brands that have more trust and authority than their smaller counterparts — something that should clearly benefit the complaining members of the Publishers Advisory Council.
Steve Rubel has already done a fine job of refuting the argument that big media is any more deserving of high search engine visibility than blogs just by virtue of their size. And at least one publisher quoted in the AdAge article recognizes that the media companies themselves are at least partly to blame for any lack of visibility in Google’s search results:
“They don’t owe us that we show up a particular way. They do publish a whole lot about how to make your site show up as much as possible. If people haven’t taken action on it, that’s their own damn fault.”
Indeed. It was just two weeks ago that I wrote that the Fortune 500 is “largely invisible” in natural search. Perhaps the big media companies should be asking an SEO consultant for bailout help, not Google.
There’s more discussion on Techmeme.