I’ve been thinking about this on and off for some time. Am I too dependent on Google? Worst still, is my business too dependent on Google?
I probably rely on Google’s applications a bit too much as it is. Let’s count them all.
Gmail, G+, Google Photos, Google Docs, Drive, Maps, Google Calendar, YouTube, Android, Waze, and maybe one or two I missed.
I have business related things on almost everything above except Waze, and Maps.
Why I want to reconsider and re-think my relationship with Google
Google has been good to me so far, but there were things I’m uncomfortable with over the years. Most people think that is it about their personal data. It’s that but it is also more than that.
Looking at the overall picture, I find it strange that while Google claim to have issues policing YouTube, while on the other hand, it is busy dipping its tentacles into my harddrive and phone, uploading photos and videos I make.
If the product is free, you are the product.
I’ve read about Google deleting email accounts, YouTube deleting channels, leaking your data from Android, Google de-listing entire websites, and some of the practices that big corporations tend to do, and I think it is about time to take back some of the power I, as a user gave to Google.
Google’s mission was to organize the world’s information. Along the way, like most corporations that grow too big, it began to look after its own, and shareholder interest.
The internet was about diversity. Anyone can and should be able to share their ideas, and thoughts. Over time, when more user start to use Google search results, Google began to dictate which search results you see.
Today, most of the top ten search results are dominated by 16 large media companies. That in itself, is not bad.
In order to rank well, i.e. be in the top 10 or 20 of search results, your website and web pages have to meet certain criteria. The bad part with Google is that, while small websites have to comply with certain good practices according to Google, those same large media corporations don’t play by the same rules.
In essence, Google favors the large media companies, even though your website may have better, more accurate, and up to date information!
The worst situation is, if for some unknown reason Google decides to disagree with your website content or you are a competitor, it can delist your website so that if someone wants to search for you, you won’t be found in Google search.
While Google was fined 2.1 B Euro recently for doing that to new startup, Foundem.com, the company was practically wiped out from the market.
YouTube videos and channels deleted
One problem with YouTube they can’t tell which videos are okay, and which ones are not. The algorithm that YouTube uses to flag a video often times don’t work well, and request to review the video can take a long time.
So perfectly innocent videos get demonetized, or deleted, just due to some words in the title, description, and or tags. Even YouTube’s own video got marked with a copyright claim. That says it all for the algorithm.
Another problem is YouTube deleting videos and channels without recourse. In the past, they’ve done so without even checking if copyright claims are legitimate. Too bad if your video got flagged.
However, when news channels that offers diverse views gets deleted, then you begin to wonder.
While I support the freedom of speech, I also think there should be some form of censorship like racism, hate speech, extreme and graphic violence etc. I feel that certain censorship is valid.
Thus far, actions taken by YouTube is not really consistent.
Universal Music Group, UMG deal with YouTube. Individuals who post mash up, critique, education, commentary can use media under Fair Use without copyright infringement. Unfortunately, YouTube made a deal with UMG and takes down videos without recourse for the creators.
Gmail is something of a love hate affair for me. On the one hand, very few spam gets into the Inbox. On the other hand, on numerous occasions, Gmail mark legitimate emails as spam.
A few months ago, there were complaints that emails that people subscribed to, were marked as spam. So email deliveries dropped by as much as 50% for some businesses.
If you rely on email newsletters as part of your business strategy, and since a lot of your customers are probably using Gmail, your business is severely affected by what Gmail do or don’t do.
Also, emails to you from your customers or would be customer can easily end up in your spam folder, causing potential loss of business. I’ve a few email from customers, and potential customers forwarded from this website, ended up in my spam folder.
Even without marking legitimate emails as spam, Gmail already segments your email into 3 tabs, primary, social and promotions. I’ve experience moving emails from the promotions into my primary folder because I want to receive those emails from sites I subscribe to, yet the subsequent emails ended up in the promotions tab again.
So, Gmail is deciding who I read emails from. Shouldn’t you be the one making that decision?
Whether you are a customer, or a business, I think it is better to migrate out of Gmail, especially for your business emails.
Reducing Google’s power
Anyway, here’s are some ways you can reduce the power you give to Google.
Yes, we as users of Google’s services gave power to Google in the first place. Collectively, we can reduce that power.
There are 2 things you can do right now without revamping everything. The first is Google search and Chrome.
Instead of using Google search, use Duck Duck Go. Yes, it is a funny name, but I assure you it is a legitimate search engine, and I’ve been using for a few years now. Duck Duck Go results are pretty good, fast, and they don’t track you.
I still use Google search occasionally when I could not find the information I wanted, or when I need to check SEO rankings of competing websites.
The second is the Chrome browser. Using Chrome browser, Google also gets your search queries, and partial search queries. Thus, stop sending data to Google. I suggest you use Firefox. Firefox has been updated and just as fast if not faster than Chrome.
Make sure you use both of these on your computer, and also on your mobile phone.
Have alternatives ready
As a business, it is never good to rely on one service provider. It is always good to have alternatives ready.
I suggest you examine if you are overly rely on Google. For example, based on what I wrote earlier, I think that’s way too much.
If Google were shut me or you out one or two of the service, how would that impact your business? You may think that it won’t happen to you, but it can.
I have a video titled “The Death Of Blab As We Know It“, that got flagged and demonetized just because of the word death. Nothing graphic, and Blab is a service, so go figure. Anything can happen.
For me, I will explore options and reduce relying on Google so much. It will be something I do all over time, I’ll slowly migrate out of Google services, or at least have backups services elsewhere
For example with email, I already use Zoho as an alternative email provider. I also use Protonmail after testing it for 4 months. I really think that if you are doing business of any sort, you ought to have your own personal email address.
Over time, I’m going to reduce using my Gmail account too. Bookmark this page. I’ll continue to update this as I go along.
So far, this is what I’ve done to extricate myself.
- Google Photos – at this point in time, I’ve shut off auto syncing my photos up to the cloud.
- Google Analytics – taking a cue from SEO experts, Analytics is Not installed on my websites. I’ve not installed Analytics on my sites for many years. There are other free services you can use, or you can also host your own analytics eg Piwik now renamed as Matomo, so that no data goes to a third party.
- Google Search – limited use, I already use mostly Duck Duck Go.
- Chrome – hardly use Chrome anymore. On laptop, I use Firefox. On mobile, I use Firefox and Opera.
What about you? Do you think you are relying on Google too much?
Updated – August 2018