Google Trends: Willfully Harming Thousands of Websites
As you may have heard, Google recently added functionality to their Google Trends tool that shows traffic data for most high traffic websites. I say “most” because there are a few sites that don’t display data in the Trends for Website searches… namely all of Google’s properties (google.com, youtube.com, etc.).
Naturally, Graywolf was all over this one and pointed out the problem immediately in his post Google’s Two Tiered Internet World Sinks to a New Low. Naturally I agreed with Michael but it wasn’t until Google representative, Matt Cutts, commented on the post that I really saw the full extent of Google’s arrogance on this matter. Cutts stated:
My personal guess is that given the brouhaha about Google metrics earlier this year (e.g. http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/21/why-comscores-google-paid-click…/ ), maybe the team wanted to start cautiously so that estimates on a Labs product wouldn’t be taken as hard truth or as some sort of forward-looking guidance.
In Danny Sullivan’s post on the issue, he quotes this official statement from Google which echoes the same sentiment as Mr. Cutts’ response above:
We have a policy of not providing interim financial guidance, and have decided not to release Google numbers in accordance with that policy. We are always open to reconsidering decisions we’ve made, but at this point, for these financial guidance reasons, we do not share Google numbers in the Trends for Websites tool.
To boil this all down, Google is saying that they don’t want to give metrics on sites they own because it could damage the company financially. And, as Cutts pointed out, we’ve seen some precedence for that. When comScores released their paid click estimates, Google’s stock suffered.
So, what we have here is a) Google stating that releasing this data on websites could financially harm the company and yet b) Google releasing that very same data (which could financially harm the company) for THOUSANDS upon thousands of other websites!
The Google apologists among you will argue that’s not what Google is saying at all and that they’re just looking out for their own best interests. But I’m sorry, not even Google can have it both ways. Either releasing this data is harmful to the companies that own these websites, in which case Google just flipped the rest of the online world the bird and willfully damaged an incredible number of websites and companies, or releasing the data would not be harmful, and Google has absolutely no excuse for keeping theirs private.
Either way you slice it, it’s evident that the whole “do no evil” thing died a long time ago.