Vivint and the Power of Google

July 10, 2014

Always one to look out for its own interests, Google seems to have been at it again. PandoDaily reports, “After Google Bought Nest, it Removed One of the Company’s Biggest Competitors from Search Results.” Smart-thermostat-maker Vivint found itself suddenly cut out of Google search results just two weeks after Google bought smart-thermostat-maker Nest. Though the infraction cited by Google looks to be real (but accidental), Vivint says the punishment was out of proportion, and Google was very unhelpful in getting it straightened out. Reporter James Robinson turned to Foxtail Marketing search specialist Mike Templeton; he writes:

“Templeman found in his research that Vivint was delisted for all but three of the 3300 search terms that were linked to its website, something he said was abnormally severe. Vivint was technically guilty of improper linking, but it didn’t benefit the company.

“Analyzing the site’s traffic information, Templeman says that the offending links seemed to come from banner ads placed for the company’s charity and sport’s sponsorships which weren’t coded properly and therefore came up as paid links to its site, something that Google strictly prohibits. ‘It looks like it was just sloppy marketing practices,’ Templeman says.

“For that mistake, Vivint was wiped from the face of Google for four months. Other companies that have been caught making far more overt attempts to benefit by gaming the system — like Rap Genius, or which offered discounts in exchange for site links — received far lighter punishments, usually just finding themselves bumped down the search results.”

Even though Vivint’s place in Google’s results was eventually restored, being away for four months can have a serious impact on a company’s long-term standing. Robinson ponders the implications of Vivint’s tale, “whether deliberate sabotage” or not: Google simple wields a scary amount of power in the marketplace. As it continues to diversify, it will find more and more types of competitors to squash.

Cynthia Murrell, July 10, 2014

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