The Google salespeople were encouraging Forbes to add Plus’s “+1”
social buttons to articles on the site, alongside the Facebook
Like button and the Reddit share button. They said it was
important to do because the Plus recommendations would be a factor
in search results — a crucial source of traffic to publishers.
This sounded like a news story to me. Google’s dominance in search
and news give it tremendous power over publishers. By tying search
results to the use of Plus, Google was using that muscle to force
people to promote its social network.
I asked the Google people if I understood correctly: If a
publisher didn’t put a +1 button on the page, its search results
would suffer? The answer was yes. […]
With that, I published a story headlined, “Stick Google Plus
Buttons On Your Pages, Or Your Search Traffic Suffers,” that
included bits of conversation from the meeting. […]
It escalated quickly from there. I was told by my higher-ups at
Forbes that Google representatives called them saying that the
article was problematic and had to come down. The implication was
that it might have consequences for Forbes, a troubling
possibility given how much traffic came through Google searches
and Google News.
Shameful that Forbes caved on this, but such is Google’s influence over websites that depend on inbound search traffic.