Everybody is Putting Needles in Google - Reasonable Point of View on SEO

Every time Google rolls out a new algorithm industry is boiling with discussions and most of the times - frustration and accusations. Big bad Google is updating their product and businesses worldwide suffer.

Ongoing algorithm updates painfully affected many websites and online businesses. They also had an impact on the businesses of the people I know personally. I can even recall examples where they had to change their jobs.

Personally, I think that Google is not always playing fair with their users and content creators. However you put it, Google is earning money on other people’s work. The lack of transparency, no communication with users and of course manual penalties - this happens all the time.

Does an ordinary person who decides to create a website, have to know what are sitewide links? Or does he has to know that too many exact-match links can make his website become penalized and deindexed? As far as I know, Google didn’t invent the Internet, so why should they set up the rules what is forbidden and what’s not?

I don’t want to judge if Google’s right or wrong or if they have any kind of moral authority to do what they do (even if some of their moves look shady). Everybody is putting needles in Google, but do SEOs have a right to do so?

Action and Reaction

For the last few years every SEO technique that brought proven effects was overused once got into a broader awareness. Most of the nowadays-forbidden methods were mostly technical and had only one goal - to take advantage of Google’s imperfections. Today even a guest blogging in a scale is classified as one of them. SEOs around the world kept trying, as there is a very little space in SERPs and a lot of targeted traffic to benefit from. Google decided to take action upon them.

The search engine is Google’s primary product. Although most of their profit comes from the Adwords advertising platform, the necessity of providing relevant and qualitative results is no-brainer if they want to keep trust around their product. The scale of an adoption of the aforementioned hacks was so noticeable that Google decided to improve their product and its ranking algorithms. The changes were significant. Now, if you overuse some of the techniques from the list, your website sooner or later can get penalized. This means being wiped out of SERPs. Zero visibility. Zero traffic. Zero clients.

Few months ago I wrote an article which appeared on Searchenginejournal.com. One of the outtakes was that since Google is the global number one, we are obliged to play by its rules if we want to receive traffic via its search engine. Although the rules how to get higher rankings changed vastly, most of the SEOs seem not to pay attention.

Shift Towards Quality (Sort of)

Although the industry shifted towards “quality”, the poor reputation of SEO remained untouched. Even the most recognizable brands in the industry decided to cut off from the shady term (link). Nature does not like emptiness and the new terms began to arise: inbound marketing, growth hacking, content marketing etc. They still mostly adapt “you-know-what”, but try to somehow omit the word.

You can pinpoint the seismic shift to April 24, 2012, also known as the day Google unleashed Penguin and the SEO industry lost its collective mind. When link schemes came under fire, the processes and systems many SEOs had relied on for success in secret for years were cut out from under them. That’s REALLY important, because it underpins a critical fact we conveniently ignore: The widespread exodus among SEO circles towards marketing started because of the need to find a new way to earn links. - Joel Klettke

The problem is that the rules have changed, tools have changed, but the mindset stayed the same. SEOs around the world instead of doing the real marketing, still try to use cheap tricks and SPAM to beat Google algos. Still not convinced? Let’s do a quick overview, shall we?

SEO “Marketing” Techniques

Blog Comments

comment-spam spam-comment-example-2

Are these the comments that provide the value to readers? This is not marketing, this is simply a spam.

Content Marketing

Thin content aka. spam

Is this a real content marketing? This is not even a spam - this is a pure crap!!

Influencer Outreach

Guest blogging outreach exampleOk. Maybe it’s not about building relations, but at least he’s honest…

Content Promotion

Ezine articles Content Syndication

Is that the way content promotion should look like? (sigh)…

Scoring Reviews

Spammy reviews and paid links example

And so on, and on, and on…

Are you building your business on spam?

The examples above are just peek of an iceberg. Trust me - there are more of them: fake accounts creation, link buying, link exchanges, etc. They have one thing in common - they are spam.

Most of SEOs didn’t change their approach at all. Content marketing remained mass spamming in the form of guest posts, buying fake followers, shares and likes on social media.

I would lie to you if I said that spam doesn’t work. It does! I’ve seen many examples, even from our industry, where websites appear in Google thanks to links from a poor content published on WordPress templates and blogs which look like one of those websites from the nineties.

Private blog network spam Spammy WordPress Blog Template

Few years ago it was easy. Few links blasts, few link farms and voila - you’ve got the rankings. But do we want to make websites rank this way? Do we want our competitors to get rankings just because they have links from such websites as the examples above? I wouldn’t. I suppose that brands that really invest in the quality wouldn’t either.

Key Conclusions

Google is getting better and better with fighting spam. Eventually maybe they will find a way of providing the right stuff to the right audience more accurately.

Looking for advice?

  • Do not focus solely on SEO. Focusing only on getting higher rankings won’t help you get more traffic nor will build your brand. Take Tad Chef’s blog for example. Even though he decided to block Google, yet he managed to build his personal brand.
  • Quality over quantity. Don’t try to build your brand on poor marketing. You won’t get rankings and what’s worse - it will turn away your users instantly.
  • If you have to do the SEO, do it the right way

Did I forget something? I’d love to hear your opinion! Thanks for reading!

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Marathoner, traveller, SEO/SEM practicioner. Feel free to contact me on Twitter!

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Comments (12)

  1. Dana Blankenhorn 2 years ago Reply

    Some of this is political. With Google increasingly powerful, governments around the world are encouraging the needle poking, as are politicians. See Scott Cleland as an example. He has been on a grand campaign against Google, on behalf of AT&T, for years now. Foreign governments see Google as a tool of U.S. domination, and people of all political persuasions remain ever-ready to dump on it for not following their causes. So expect lots more of this.

    • Krystian Włodarczyk 2 years ago

      Hey Dana,

      Thanks for leaving a comment. To be honest, I didn’t look at it from a political perspective, but you have a point there. It is clearly visible in EU as well.

  2. Charles 2 years ago Reply

    We have a small on-line business. I have recently noticed that viewers that go to our website are starting to come more from BING.COM than they did in the past.
    For example in the last 2 days we have had 21 searches from GOOGLE and 15 searches from BING. Are some people going away from GOOGLE?

    • Krystian Włodarczyk 2 years ago

      It’s difficult to say why it is as it is for you. Bing and Google use different algorithms to rank websites. Maybe you’ve picked the right set of keywords with low competition levels on both search engines. Nevertheless, Google is #1 and isn’t going anywhere soon.

  3. Shell Robshaw-Bryan 2 years ago Reply

    Google is approaching monopoly territory. It certainly dominates search through of course, there are alternative options. Google leads the game and has the power to tell us all how it is and what we must do.

    I don’t have a problem with them wanting to provide more relevant search results, what I do have a problem with is that they have made it increasingly hard for smaller businesses, and especially start-ups to obtain any first page visibility through organic SEO activities alone.

    Google AdWords itself is highly manipulative. Take a client of mine who receives decent levels of traffic from a search term with almost little competition and just 1 other advertiser in AdWords bidding on the same (relatively low traffic) keyword. With just 1 other advertiser and a fully optimised ad, did Google insist on over £5 per click to be on the first page?!! That just doesn’t make sense, nor does it’s manipulation of what you can and can’t bid on - a lot of business WANT to grab low volume keywords they can actually afford to bid on, but Google won’t let them! So they can’t compete with the big established players through organic SEO or through paid search either.

    So whilst it’s their game and they are entitled to write the rules, professionally I do have a huge ethical problem with what they are doing.

    • Krystian Włodarczyk 2 years ago

      “I don’t have a problem with them wanting to provide more relevant search results, what I do have a problem with is that they have made it increasingly hard for smaller businesses, and especially start-ups to obtain any first page visibility through organic SEO activities alone.”

      I couldn’t agree with you more on that.

      As for the minimum bid in Adwords - that doesn’t help smaller businesses either.

  4. Luana Spinetti 2 years ago Reply

    Hey hey, Krystian! Link exchanges are NOT spam! :-/ And honestly, I don’t care if Google thinks otherwise, because real link exchanges are like THIS: kya.nu/linkage and NOT like this: http://www.link-exchange.ws/link-exchange-software.htm

    The difference? The first is done for friendship and networking (link exchanges as old way to have a circle of Friends on your website, much like Facebook Friends). The second is done for SEO. The likes may not carry a nofollow tag in either case, but the first is genuine and it’s about the people, unlike the second.

    That difference is important.

    Also, being “wiped out of SERPs” doesn’t necessarily equal “Zero visibility. Zero traffic. Zero clients.” if you have built a good platform around your site over time. At some point, when you do things the right way, losing Google is not a big loss after all.

    The problem is with the aggressive, all-Google-and-nothing-else tactics you mention in the article. Without relationships, the moment you lose everything on Google, you really lose everything.

    Not an ideal situation.

    Ah, I love Tad Chef’s blog. 🙂 He’s a great networking buddy, too.

    I thought about blocking Google, but then I unblocked it and just decided to go the “perilous” route… and ask to get penalized. 😉 It’s a playful challenge — I don’t hate Google, even though I disagree with some of their PR methods and other things — I initiated back in April this year with Matt Cutts, and I hope it will help other people get rid of this abnormal fear of Google that went beyond borders eons ago.

    Just my two cents. 🙂

    Take care!

    Luana S.

    • Luana Spinetti 2 years ago

      Ugh :-/ That second link in my comment didn’t have to turn into an active link. Not sure why, since I removed the HTTP part…

    • Krystian Włodarczyk 2 years ago

      Hey Luana,

      Link exchanges, no matter if done in a good faith or done artificially, can be banned by Google (like every other technique that was overused; you can check out another Tad’s article on this topic http://positionly.com/blog/seo/banned-link-building-techniques).

      I don’t hate Google either. We can criticize them for many things, but we still have to understand why they are acting like this. Like any other company, they simply care about their product.

      Thanks for insightful comment!

  5. Carlos 2 years ago Reply

    Hi Krystian,

    Great article, thanks for posting.

    I guess from what you are saying it would be possible for competitors to damage your rankings by posting spam with your site links instead of theirs ? I am correct to think that, and if so how can it be tackled?


    • Krystian Włodarczyk 2 years ago

      Hey Carlos,

      Unfortunately yes - your competitors can harm your website’s visibility. It is commonly called “negative seo”. The only solution is to monitor your backlinks and acting accordingly.

  6. Hamid Mehmood 2 years ago Reply

    Of course google did not invent internet. But web site owners must bound to provide information written in good english. I agree with your spaming philosophy.

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