A federal appeals court upheld a contempt of court citation Wednesday against Ladar Levison, the founder of the shuttered email service provider Lavabit, for refusing to hand over encryption keys to the FBI. Read More
I recently read a Huffington Post story about how Aaron Greenspan (not to be confused with the former Fed boss) sued Google in small claims court and won. Google “disabled” his AdSense account with no explanation and no recourse. Greenspan sued and won $ 761.00, plus $ 40 to make up for the suit’s filing fee. It’s a great article. You can read it here.
How much is a moral victory worth? Round trip from the east coast to California, plus food, lodging and other miscellaneous expenses? If the Googleplex was located in my county, I would have considered suing Google in small claims court when the company decided to terminate my AdSense account years ago. But since it’s in Mountain View, CA, for me — and for most — the whole enterprise would be too expensive to be practical. Mr. Greenspan had a distinct advantage in that his business is located within walking distance of the Clara County courthouse in Palo Alto, CA, which is exactly where you have to go if you want to sue Google in small claims court. He literally walked to the courthouse to file the lawsuit.
Even though I lost about $ 1,000 when Google closed my account, the end result was that I made a whole lot more money. That’s because I was relying too heavily on AdSense to monetize my sites, and AdSense should never be a publisher’s main source of revenue (especially since an account can be killed at any time!) I was earning between $ 0.50 and $ 7 per click, but the high-quality, targeted traffic I was sending to other sites was making a lot more money for the owners of those sites. Yep. After I reconfigured my sites, I ended up making 15 to 20 times more than I was with AdSense. A costly lesson, but one that helped me become a far more successful publisher, and an employer.
I currently use Yahoo! Publisher Network (YPN) ads on certain sites in my portfolio, and so far it’s been great. I joined YPN soon after my AdSense account was disabled, and it’s been nothing but smooth sailing since. With YPN, the ad targeting and ad inventory has never been as good as AdSense. However, if my AdSense account was still active today, I’m 99% certain that I would choose to stick with YPN and use the platform’s manual ad targeting feature, rather than sweat over the interminable threat of the AdSense ax. My sites contain prime content. I don’t deserve such nonsense.
These days, I do business with Google only when I have to. It’s not just because my AdSense account was closed. Right now, I have a site that has no PagerankTM on any of it’s pages, despite having thousands of quality incoming links. The site isn’t banned from Google, but it’s obviously suffering one of Google’s penalties, and I have no idea why. No blackhat SEO — ever — and all original content. Google recently lifted an unjust and heavy penalty from another robust site I own, so I was expecting all silly penalties to be lifted by now. Despite numerous attempts to get the penalty removed, the sites is still being punished for no reason. This penalty caused the following ugly situation: content pirates stole my good content and put it on their own spammy sites, which resulted in phrases from that same stolen content ranking far above my own site in the Google search engine results pages (SERP’s.) I’m still wasting a lot of time faxing DMCA complaints to get my stolen content removed from those illegitimate websites (kudos to HubPages.com for responding very fast to my complaint.) So, can you blame me for being pissed?
I still admire Google and love many of their free services like Gmail, Analytics, Translate, Maps, Earth, Calendar, etc. (though I feel like I have paid to use them.) Google is constantly tweaking it’s policies and algorithm, so I’m hoping they shed their not-so-enlightened and near-tyrannical policies before they alienate any more publishers.
Bottom line: Google is a rich company. They need to hire a lot more talented people to handle complaints from legitimate publishers.