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Google on the March – And the beats go on…

Google is generating a lot of bad-vibes these days, having crossed the perceptual line between good and evil on a number of fronts. In less time than it took for their options to mature, Google’s new attitude has started turning formerly loyal users into critics and once slavish investment analysts into detractors. Google, which until very recently was the darlink of the search world is quickly losing its cool among the key groups it needs to support it.

Monday had to be one of the worst days in recent memory at the Googleplex in Mountain View California. They entered the week ducking questions about the widely-reviled Auto-link feature included in their new tool bar. The anger and sense of betrayal felt by webmasters and search marketers is difficult to articulate in words I haven’t already used but if it was described as a colour, it would be blood-red.

If a growing anti-Google rebellion amongst webmasters wasn’t troubling enough, Google got caught using “dark-hat” SEO techniques on its own site, a violation of the own SEO Guidelines that stunned the “white-hats” and emboldened the “dark-hats” in the sector. Even though Google has since banned those pages from its own index, in a show of good faith, the taint of “Do what I say, not what I do” remains.

Worse still, the investment community is starting to turn on them. Earlier this month, Google was called a one-trick pony by Charlene Li from Forrester Research. That must have stung but an even worse name was hurled by Kevin Kelleher in the respected investor’s newsletter The Street. In his March 7 column, “Google’s Grating Silence” Kelleher notes Google’s lack of guidance or investor communication, calling them hypocrites at the end of the piece. This is not a good situation for Google. Though it does not create a three-pronged Perfect Storm for disaster, the past three weeks have seen Google’s reputation take the biggest beating it has ever taken.

This beating comes on the eve of its great rival Yahoo’s announcement of a competing contextual advertising program and rumours of an entry from MSN into the lucrative field.

For Googlites:
Definitions of inauspicious on the Web.

It’s the year of the rooster folks. This is a terribly inauspicious entry for a company commanding such cool technology. Time to stop monkeyin’ around, eh?