Steve Kurtz
~ it's a beautiful world ~

When Google shut off the world

January 31st, 2009

It’s Saturday morning, January 31, 2009. I need to drive my son to an event over in Philadelphia, so I woke a little early to get a few things done on the Internet and get directions to the event before leaving. So I hop on, check and respond to some e-mail, visit Facebook (more on that later), then, with minutes to spare, go to Google to look up the event.

I type in the name of the school and get the usual myriad of results. The top search results are exactly what I need. Good, because I have little time to spare.

But wait … the site is marked “This site may harm your computer.” What? Never heard of it before. No way. This has to be wrong. I click on the link anyway and rather than proceeding to the site, I am presented with a Google screen that explains that the site is potentially dangerous, and will not let me visit the site. Well, that’s a fine mess.

The Geek in me kicks in. I read the URL and copy-paste the web address into my browser bar. Up pops the correct website – safe and sound. I snag the directions and I’m off.

But not quite. What was that all about? I sat down for a little experiment. I searched for “philadelphia restaurants”. What to my surprise, EVERY result listing was marked “This site may harm your computer”. “Shoot” I thought … “I’m infected. There’s no way every site is dangerous”. I went to another computer. Same result. Hu? And there’s NO WAY Google has a problem … right? Arghh. No time now … got to go.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

OK, I’m back. And things seem to be all right. But what happened? I Googled “this site may harm your computer”, and faithfully(?) Google responded with the answer. The first answer came from a Canadian post , ironically served from Google.com.

Turns out that Google put a protective browsing scheme in place to prevent people from visiting potentially dangerous sites. The warning is displayed whenever you visit a site so tagged.

Unfortunately, this morning between 9:30 AM & 10:25 AM Eastern Time, EVERY site in the engine was so tagged due to a Google hickup. From CNN.com to <shameless_plug id=”SonsWebComic”> TrueVillains.com </shameless_plug>, every site was being (inadvertently) blocked by Google.

With Google handling 70-80% of all search traffic, this means that millions of websites were rendered unreachable.

Which begs a question. Do you rely on only one Search Engine? Are all your eggs in one basket? Could your business survive if Google simply – went away? Granted, this is not likely. But the events of the day should give us pause.

The lesson: Your Internet Marketing campaign should be well rounded and diverse, just like your financial portfolio. It needs to take advantage of the internet as a whole, not just a handful of resources.

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