Does anyone else feel like the internet just isn’t fun anymore and that Google is the main culprit?
Ever since I was a kid, I have been on the internet. I am not sure what started it, I believe it was my father, brother and I looking for hints on how to beat a certain part in Kings Quest or Hero’s Quest, but for whatever the reason, I have been connected for quite some time.
The IRC network was a fun thing as you could easily make fun of someone and then immediately change your handle to be someone completely new. Sure the network notified everyone that you made the change, but most were distracted by making fun of someone and changing their handle, so it was all good.
Then came AOL Homepage and GeoCities, which taught me how to do basic HTML and set up a webpage. Sure all I did was put band logos that I liked one on top of each other, but it still was teaching me the basic ins and outs of the web and how it functioned.
It was fun, it was carefree, and when I eventually started my first online business I learned something that I hadn’t thought of before: It could be turbo profitable.
Still, even with all of the headaches that came with running a business, having it on the Internet and learning about SEO and testing different tactics was a fun and enlightening experience. I remember the days (and nights) that I would spend sitting in my friend’s mother’s basement coding our site and placing keywords in strategic places to get them to rank higher in Google. It was challenging, but fun and rewarding, like playing Zelda.
Then something happened. It feels like a few months ago I was blissfully running around Hyrule slicing and dicing Tektites, and now I am on the hoverbike stage in Battle Toads, chaotically holding on for dear life and praying to make it to the next stage.
It’s been a harrowing transition to say the least. I look back at what my job used to be and what it has become over the last 10 years, and I have come to this conclusion: Google has made the internet zero fun.
I used to love turning on the computer and diving into different pages and trying to figure out how to make them rank higher and gain more visibility. It was something to get up for in the morning, something that made you pour that extra cup of coffee at 5pm and keep chugging along.
Now I turn on my computer in the morning and stare at blogs speaking of end times and what fundamental feature the search engine giant has taken away from me while I slept.
I want to clarify something at this point in the article (rant). This is not me saying that I am angry or bitter towards Google in any way about this. While they are not many SEO’s favorite group of people (and vice versa), they have been trying to keep their algorithm clean, even when it straight up pisses everybody off. It’s hard to criticize an entity for trying to make their product better; I just wish they would find a way to do it without destroying the little guy.
That’s really where all of this is stemming from. The internet just isn’t fun anymore for the guy trying to start a new site who doesn’t have more than the cost of hosting and design in his pocket. For example, my brother and I run a site called cheesycorporatelingo.com (shameless plug) that we have poured countless time and resources into. We love it, but running it has become an uphill battle due to all of Google’s algorithm changes. We have seen our traffic rise considerably, to getting cut in half because they have deemed our site unworthy because of its infancy and lack of ‘quality’ links (whatever those are). We are the perfect example of the people who are getting most affected by these changes, the middle-class of the internet, the guys with full-time jobs, trying to do something fun with their spare time.
The problem is, you just can’t do that anymore. There used to be room for both businesses and the everyman on the Internet, but Google has taken that away and in my opinion, has made the internet an extension of Wall Street. It’s all business, all the time. No dogs allowed.
The middle-class of the internet are guys like us. We don’t have 20k a month to be pumping into Google to get paid traffic and don’t have the time to write 25 blog posts a month in hopes that our thumbnail will pop up when somebody types in a word that relates to our site. Sure, I could spend my time building links, although that practice will most likely not exist in a year (read my article about the death of link building here), but I would rather be writing the content for the site than worrying about that crap.
And that’s the real problem. The crap. The headaches that surround running a site that Google has introduced to try and combat spammers who have manipulated their algorithm to the point where they felt this counterattack was necessary. That’s why the internet isn’t fun anymore.
So is this just complaining? Am I the old guy sitting on his porch yelling at kids to get off my lawn while shaking my cane in the air? Maybe, I don’t know. I’m only 31 and I gotta admit that sounds pretty great.
What I do know is that I used to enjoy the web a lot more, and now I have a sudden urge to pull the plug and go live in a cabin in the woods. Somewhere Google can’t find me (I am aware this place doesn’t exist).
All I wanted for Christmas was for everyone to start enjoying their time on the web again. To write interesting things and funny jokes again, instead of playing to the whims of a math equation that has way more power than it should.
All I wanted was for the internet to be fun again.
All I got was a rock.