About half of Google’s staff works on identifying and delivering relevant results based upon keyword search strings entered by users.  The actual Google search algorithm is a well kept “trade secret.” However, many find consensus in the notion that in the “post Florida update” era, Google still ranks pages by counting the number links back to them.  As one might imagine, there is a “secret sauce” component, and maybe even be a human being somewhere in the process — but they won’t say for sure.  What is clear is that Google’s unique selling principle is the delivery of highly relevant search results … or is it?

The other half of the Google staff spends its day selling keywords to search engine optimizers (SEOs) and search engine marketers (SEMs).  Their job is to drive traffic to websites using the paid (right hand side) of the Google results page.  It sounds like a good way to make money for everyone while maintaining a high relevance quotient … or is it?

The law of unintended consequences plays an interesting role here.  Because the best way to drive traffic is through a relevant search result; and, because keyword advertising pays anywhere from pretty well to very well on click throughs — a cottage industry has emerged — GooglySpam.  GooglySpam is not a real word, it’s not even a good word, it just describes a new kind of extremely annoying spam — fake microsites pretending to be relevant search results. 

Microsites are not new, neither are landing pages.  But this a new generation of handcrafted useless webpages created simply to monetize keyword searches.  They are creating a new level of unwanted, mostly for profit, untrustworthy, imfomercial-like, eyesoresque, brain-melting pseudo-information … GooglySpam!

In his book, “The Selfish Gene,” Richard Dawkins describes tipping points that destroy evolutionary stable systems.  Is there a point where GooglySpam will kill this most popular, flavor-of-the-month, advertising methodology?  Could GooglySpam make search so emotionally unsatisfying that the very foundation of search optimization will be damaged or even destroyed? I don’t think there are any psychotropic medications available for Google, but if this trend continues, we’re certainly going to need some. Shelly Palmer

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit


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