Web surfing is so ’90s.
A simple statement true; but in fact it is very true as the majority of any web traffic these days is being driven by Google.
This point that the Internet starts with the letter “G” was illustrated quite succinctly by Rich Skrenta (courtesy of Jeff Atwood) in his post Winner-Take-All: Google and the Third Age of Computing in which he states the following:
The net isn’t a directed graph. It’s not a tree. It’s a single point labeled G connected to 10 billion destination pages.
If the Internet were a monolithic product, say the work of some alternate-future AT&T that hadn’t been broken up, then you’d turn it on and it would have a start page. From there you’d be able to reach all of the destination services, however many there were.
Well, that’s how the net has organized itself after all.
From this position, Google derives immense and amazing power. And they make money, but not only for themselves. Google makes advertisers money. Google makes publishers money. Google drives multi-billion dollar industries profiting from Google SEM/SEO.
Most businesses on the net get 70% of their traffic from Google. These business are not competitors with Google, they are its partners, and have an interest in driving Google’s success. Google has made partners of us all.
This was illustrated in a post yesterday by Jeff Atwood (Coding Horror) which highlighted what happened to one major web site when it was dropped from the main Google index. They lost 70 percent of their traffic – 70 percent; which in our day and age is tantamount to internet suicide.
The site was was JavaLobby, who wrote about what happened on their blog
Having been out of the office for almost two weeks, we had a lot of stats to look at. It took no time to see that something was wrong – traffic was down. A little more investigation revealed the problem.
We had completely disappeared from Google’s main index! If you run a website, then you know how serious a problem this is. On any given day over 10,000 visitors arrive at Javalobby as a result of Google searches, and suddenly they stopped coming! We had apparently been grouped together with the spammer’s viagra and casino sites, and poof! Suddenly we no longer existed in the eyes of Google, the world’s largest search engine.
Certainly Google was well within their TOS rights to do what they did given that JavaLobby had been hit badly by spammers in their forums; but couldn’t have a warning worked just as well. Given that Google is the defacto repository of all our internet knowledge shouldn’t they be held to a slightly higher standard especially since so many businesses, identities and knowledgebases exist because of Google.
However there is another part of this Google landscape that while not as prevalent as the dangers of being dropped from an index is just; if not more, dangerous. The danger lies in the increasing use of Google Web 2.0 applications like GMail and the fact that the web is a lot more dangerous and harder to protect because you are relying on others to do the protecting for you.
Think not then think again or ask Phillip Lenssen how easy it was for someone to hack his Gmail, Google Doc, Google Notebook etc etc.
It’s your worst nightmare – someone reads parts of your Google emails, views your docs, modifies your spreadsheets, checks out your reading habits on the Google personalized homepage or Google Reader, and goes through your search history. Yet, by making use of a new Google security hole, Tony Ruscoe was able to do all that with my Google account.
We are treading some dangerous territory here putting all our eggs in the Google basket and in ways we may not even be able to recognize yet. Google and Web 2.0 should be marked – use at your own peril.