Approaching the Google Gods
A short story of the perils involved with manipulating the mighty powers of the search algorithm.
The committee of website owners and publishers, dressed in business suits and carrying their gifts of supplication, approached the mountain of primary colors. They stood before the almighty search bar and prayed to the Google gods.
"Google," the first one cried, "please have mercy on me. I've brought my offering of sitemaps and robots.txt's. I've been an honorable member of the web, buying not a single link from disreputable dealers. If you can find it within your blessed algorithm, please rank me highly so that I might be found and make money."
The gods considered the request and agreed to accept the offering, noting, however, that the young business owner could not be guaranteed that which she asked.
The second individual, a rather self-righteous man who had been speaking to the gods for years now, approached the almighty search bar. "Distinguished hosts, I also have abided by the great guidelines that you have let slip from on high. I have even begun paying tribute to the great social beasts who demand ever more time and content: Twitter, Facebook and even your own Plus. Tell me what more I may do to regain the favor I once had in days before the ruinous siege of Pandas and Penguins."
The gods spoke, a rare occurrence, and the scribes rushed to record every word so that it might be analyzed and measured against what had been said before. Perhaps, just perhaps, the mortals would be able to decipher where the gods would lead to next. "Keep on this path, faithful site owner. For information and interaction are two of our highest virtues."
The third individual strode up to the gods with confidence. He had lost his site ranking, true, but this was not the first time he had been caught in shifty behaviors. He had always been able to divine new ways to exploit the weaknesses of the sacred algorithm. In fact, of the three individuals who spoke to the gods that day, the third individual had the most experience addressing the almighty search bar.
And yet, despite his swagger, the siege of Pandas and Penguins had nearly undone him. The only reason he approached the blessed Mountain View now was because he had no other options left. He had to confess to the gods at least some parts of his nefarious schemes if he were to have penalties lifted. (For even though he had not confessed yet, the gods could see evidence of at least some wrongdoing.)
"Have you finally come to seek atonement?" the gods boomed.
"Yes, of course, my lords. Here is a scroll of my wrongdoings, just as you asked." He placed his confessions, the least of which he could think of that might still allow his larger transgressions to continue on unabated, on the altar before the search bar. "Now then," the third individual said, "when may I expect my restoration?"
The scroll lit up for a second on the altar as the gods absorbed the knowledge on the parchment.
"Oh, site owner, have you learned nothing?" the gods replied. "You are banished to the lands of Bing and Yahoo, perhaps even Blekko, for your trite confessions mean nothing to us. We do not seek only your testimony, but we seek a noble purpose that your content may serve the rest of the world. You can be informative and yet ply your trade, but not like this. This is against our rules... at least for today."
And the site owner and merchant was kicked off the thoroughfare of the world. He did what he could in back alleys and by gaining recommendations from other site owners willing to take a few dollars for a link. Still, he never gained the favor of the Google gods again.