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In its Autumn Statement the government moved to reduce taxes and red tape on businesses in an effort to encourage growth and entrepreneurship. But is there a new trans-national tax that all businesses must now pay, one which we might term Googletax?

There have been several changes made to the Google algorithm already in 2013, following two major changes last year which significantly moved the goalposts regarding search engine optimisation (SEO). Many of the reasons for the change – and many of the outcomes – are to be praised but Google needs to understand that meeting these changes, and following the ‘best practice’ as set out by Google is something that costs businesses money. If that cost is virtually compulsory then it becomes a tax that a business has to pay if it is to be found on Google.

Google’s dominant position as a search engine means businesses either pay the tariff or risk being unable to found by their target market.

As established and reputable social media consultants we work with businesses to make sure they achieve prominent Google rankings. This now involves far greater elements of content creation and social sharing all of which have a cost for each business. We don’t expect every business to employ a social media agency but even a business who manages their own SEO will find these activities take more time, and time is money for businesses of any size.

Google perhaps need to stop regarding all businesses as brands – they are not. Google looks around its sector and sees lots of brilliant blogs, great engagement, online debate on forms and social media sites. It has taken this as a model for all business and now tries to measure all businesses by these activities. But for a sole trader selling scrap car parts in Liverpool or a backroom entrepreneur selling fabric in Finchley, these standards don’t apply. Many businesses are resistant to the type of sharing, socialising and engagement activities which Google so prizes – and demands of all websites.

Of course, we all want to see interesting websites with updated content and unique, relevant content but as a social media agency we don’t want to see businesses forced into activities that have no relevance for their sector. Customers don’t care that a business doesn’t have a Facebook page, Twitter account and Google+ page so long as they receive the goods and services they want. If Google wants to mirror the activities of web users, it needs an algorithm that truly reflects the realistic expectations of those users.

Image Credit – WilliamMarlow

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