What is so evil about adding social networking features to everyone's account? You have a Docs account and a Picasa account too, even if you don't use them, and nobody complains about that. What's the difference between Docs and Google+?
Thousands of businesses depend on your search engine.
This I understand. People are upset that they have to play with us even though they don't want to. Nobody likes to do things that they're forced to do. But this seems like shooting the messenger; it's not Google being evil because users won't use any search engines other than Google. That's just loyalty to a pretty nice product.
Google's customers are the people that click on search results. So while re-ranking your site may kill your business, you're not a user and that re-ranking makes the experience better for our users. If the social cues that Google now adds are truly irrelevant as you say, they shouldn't affect users' behavior at all. Users are not going to stop searching for something to buy just because they have to scroll the results page. If the social features are relevant, though, then users are getting a better experience. And that's a good thing, even if individual pages get less traffic from Google. Instead of being able to SEO the entire Internet, businesses can now only affect the search results for a tiny percentage of users. That's a good thing because SEO can't scale, and SEO isn't good for users or the Internet at large.
If you look at the Google experience from the standpoint of customers, it's pretty good. Users get relevant search results and ads. Advertisers get their content on top of everything else. It's a good compromise between advertising and usability, and it works really well. It's a bug that you could rank highly in Google without buying ads, and Google is trying to fix the bug. Manipulating Google results shouldn't be something you feel entitled to be able to do. If you want to rank highly in Google, be relevant for the user currently searching. Engage him in social media or email, provide relevant information about what you're selling, and, generally, be a "good match" for what the user wants.
What if Apple created their own applications for 50% of the categories in the app store and then placed their apps at the top of each category?
They already do this. Apple's apps are included for free on every phone. And you aren't allowed to replicate their functionality, either. It's expectee. Apple makes phones, Apple gets to put whatever they want on the phones. Google makes search engine results pages, Google gets to put whatever they want on search engine results pages.
This isn't quite the right analogy, though. I can see why MapQuest would be upset about Google Maps and why Yelp would be upset about Google Local. But even in those cases, Google ranks things as you'd expect. Yelp results often appear over the Google business pages, because Yelp is more popular for reviews. So overall, I don't see Google as being evil. They're being competitive and they make good products.
- Are you sure you've read the ten commandments? If you haven't here's the link. http://www.google.com/about/company/tenthings.html
In case you don't get the time to visit the link, let me include the very first paragraph of the very first commandment; it goes something like this
"Since the beginning, we’ve focused on providing the best user experience possible. Whether we’re designing a new Internet browser or a new tweak to the look of the homepage, we take great care to ensure that they will ultimately serve you, rather than our own internal goal or bottom line."
It's a bug that you could rank highly in Google without buying ads
I shouldn't have mentioned ads here. Position on the results page should only depend on the quality of your content; if your site has the best content on the Internet for the user's search terms, you should be the top result. You shouldn't be able to change your position in the organic results any other way, like by exploiting bugs in Google's ranking algorithm. The specifics of the ranking algorithm may change, but if your site is the best, you won't have to worry about it.
So ummm none of Google own products are featured at the top of each search category? Most of the time this is not a good user experience but users and businesses have no real option!