In reality SEO is a misnomer. While there are other search engines out there, most webmasters aren’t all that interested in optimizing for anything other than Google, and in this regard we may as well start calling it ‘GO’ or ‘Google Optimization’ (and ‘go’ has a nice proactive sound to it too).
The problem with this is that it has created a very one-sided relationship, and a bit of a market monopoly that means when Google does something – the web shuts up and listens. And once again a change in Google policy may have many of us running around like headless chickens. What’ve they gone and done this time? Only change their API terms and conditions. Let’s look at what this means for you.
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Who Does This Affect?
If you run a website that ‘scrapes’ search data to provide other webmasters with then you will be all too familiar with the implications this will have on your business. Essentially the AdWords API is a tool that the owners of such sites and businesses can use in order to make large numbers of queries to Google’s search engines ad gain information regarding the SERPs, the position of certain sites and the success of particular keywords and all kinds of other information that could be useful to website owners. Many websites would then provide a service by using software along with the AdWords API in order to ‘scrape’ information that might be relevant to their visitors. They provide information to their visitors and get large amounts of traffic as a result.
Now though Google has stopped permitting this. Whereas previously their terms and conditions stated that the API data could be shared ‘only if all the data is in aggregate form that cannot be correlated to specific user accounts’, it now reads that it cannot be shared ‘whether or not the AdWords API Data is in identifiable or aggregate form’.
As such then sites like Wordstream and Raven have had to stop providing many of their free tools. Of course this then also affects anyone who might have been using these tools or even relying on them.
Of course the main implication of this will be for sites like those mentioned, but it’s also likely to have wider reaching consequences too. Many site owners for instance are likely to use other rank tracking tools and systems whether or not they comply with Google’s terms of service, while new methods for tracking the effects of keyword rankings might also. Smart webmasters and SEO companies will be able to get a lot of the information they need themselves, though it might involve a bit more time and effort on their part.
This could also once again impact on webmasters’ feelings towards Google. Once again it seems that Google is making things difficult for site owners without giving that much warning or taking into consideration the impact their decisions can have on a large number of businesses. It could also be considered somewhat hypocritical when so much of the search giant’s ethos revolves making information freely available and easy to find – as they keep reminding publishers who aren’t happy with them indexing e-books.
I’m going to take a wild guess and say that Google is preparing to package this info into a “new offering” which can be purchased for a price. I, for one, have come to expect this sort of thing from the greedy company that claims to “do no evil”. So this wouldn’t surprise me in the least.