In the past week, and more evident in the last couple of days, many have witnessed a shift in Google's search results. While Google denies this, I'm going to name this algorithm update for them. I call it the "Internet Association" update. I've browsed many forums, viewed the search results of keywords I monitor and spoken with a few good people in the IM industry. What is evident is that Amazon is kicking some serious ass now. Some are reporting that Google is displaying search results that link directly to Amazon ads (not actual products). About.com is also doing pretty damn good too, getting bumped up in some informational queries I watch. eBay listings, which is a breeding ground for shit products in the automotive industry, is also doing pretty damn good too. I've even seen Facebook rise with this update as well. Ironically, these organizations are all members of the Internet Association. Keep in mind that the Internet Association is a Washington, D.C. based lobbying group comprised of some very powerful members. Google, Amazon, About.com, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Ask.com, TripAdvisor and a host of other monopolies in their own areas. Collectively, this group controls a significant amount of the originating traffic of ecommerce transactions. Although the Internet Association claims to be the "unified voice of the internet economy," small businesses are excluded from their group and the group's actions are hidden from the public. My views have been labeled as "conspiracy theories" by Google friendly forums (ie. Webmaster World) and by prominent SEO blogs (ie. SERoundTable, Search Engine Watch). These establishments are quick to ban anyone with harsh views of Google and are part of the reinforcing establishment that offers protection to a monopoly gone wild. The more these entities can help Google advance its cause of dominating the one trillion dollar a year ecommerce industry, the more they stand to gain (or not lose like many others have). Penalties, such as Panda and Penguin, are nothing more than a smokescreen that Google uses to excuse their search results from displaying small business websites. Because all small websites have engaged in some sort of spam practices, such as excessive keyword usage or questionable links, Google wants everyone to clean things up by removing links. Each link that fails to point to a site is one less link that a potential user would use to find a website outside of Google's search engine. Since Google's policies span across all industries, they stand to gain the most from increased search traffic because of less linking across websites. And de-linking the web also makes ordinary websites even more dependent on a search product (ie. Google, Ask.com Yahoo) or social network (ie. Facebook) for vital traffic. To make matters worse, Google and many other Internet Association members hand over personal data to the government. Does Google or their lobbying group get special treatment from the United States government because of this? Who really knows. The bottom line here is that the ecommerce industry is being taken over by a very select few and small businesses are losing their asses. As these small businesses embraced doing business the digital way, Google and its cartel are now pulling the rug out from underneath them with each and every algorithm update. Do I really blame Google for doing all this? Not at all. Any business should have the right to grow and expand at its own pace. The problem is not just Google, but the lack of any regulatory action to restrain the takeover of the ecommerce industry. Politicians who respond favorably to campaign contributions, regulatory agencies that are so bloated and lazy that they don't want to represent the interests of all businesses in a battle with Google and a dummied down populous are all to blame. At this point we need to take some sort of personal action. Regardless of where we live at, we do have representatives and government regulatory agencies. Unless you live in Syria, where you may get gassed by your government, please take the time to let your voice be heard about how Google is unfairly excluding small businesses from appearing in their organic search results by giving preferential treatment to members of their cartel. At least in the United States, cartels are illegal if that is what the "Internet Association" is participating in behind their closed doors. Also, asking webmasters to spend countless hours removing links to their website is also illegal as Google has used their influence to diminish the presence of a competitor. In this case, hyperlinks are the competitor and offer consumers another way to find websites outside of search. Fewer hyperlinks equates to less consumer choice. Call me loony, a conspiracy theorist or whatever you may. The search results do not lie. Compare those websites ranking at the top of many keyword queries to those that are members of the Internet Association and make your own judgement. The next algorithm update will likely squeeze small businesses even harder. Gradually, these small businesses will have little choice but to pay Google or one of their Internet Association members a fee (aka toll) to get website traffic. Are we prepared to allow this to happen? If you are a business owner residing in the United States, and want to complain to government regulators, don't take your case to the FTC. You can file a complaint directly with the US Department of Justice at http://www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html I'll do my part, and I hope others will join me.