Google is not responsible for your health.
I have had some strong feelings about Google’s influence on our industry and their lack of pro activeness when it comes to pushing web standards and accessibility within our industry.
At today’s Search Summit I attended the Google Webmaster Central Q&A Session where Dan Crow, Adam Lasnik, Maile Ohye and Peeyush Ranjan all sat down and answered some prepared questions on standards and search.
My one main addition to this list was:
Does Google ever feel a moral obligation to push accessibility and web standards (by improving rankings), seeing they influence the market on such a global scale?
There was no stutter, or even a pause in answering that question… which was a no if you are still wondering.
Adam expanded on this, stating that actively rewarding and judging something like accessibility would be a ’slippery slope’ and there are so many degrees of accessibility compliance that it would be difficult to know where to draw the line.
Do you reward a site that validates? Can you guarantee that validation ensures accessibility? Would colour contrast count? If so, to what degree? Four percent of the male population is colour-blind to some degree, do you count this into ‘accessibility incentives’ or do you just stick with the requirements of Section 508?
I was armed with a few more of my ‘Google is Evil’ questions, but I actually started to see Adam’s point of view. These guys know accessibility and web standards and promote it’s benefits when speaking in public.
When it comes to search side of things though, we are on our own. Which got me thinking…
At the end of the day, do you want the world cleaning up their act and building standards compliant, accessible websites as a knee-jerk reaction to Google’s persuasion while they are still the super-power of search?
Or do we want to reach a state of maturity in this industry where it’s not just the geeks who campaign for this sort of thing, but the businesses, governments and local accessibility regulations which ensure that all websites are accessible and standards compliant.
A part of me still says yes to the Google persuasion. It would start a powerful movement of cleanup and reaction from the industry that we have not achieved yet from our grass roots movement.
The other part of me also sees pragmatic, well-informed and enthusiastic developers working away at Google, coming up with creative, technical and usable solutions when it comes to the area of their expertise, which is search.
I don’t think search is ever going to carry us on this one.