Every time Google rolls out a new algorithm, the industry is boiling with discussions and, most of the time – frustration and accusations. Big bad Google is updating their product, and businesses worldwide suffer.
Ongoing algorithm updates have painfully affected many websites and online businesses. They also had an impact on the enterprises of the people I know personally. I can even recall examples where they had to change their jobs.
I think that Google is not always playing fair with its 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 sitewide links are? Or does he have 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 for what is forbidden and what’s not?
I don’t want to judge if Google’s right or wrong or if they have any 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 it 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 on a scale is classified as one of them. SEOs around the world kept trying, as there is very little space in SERPs and a lot of targeted traffic to benefit from. Google decided to take action against 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 a no-brainer if they want to keep trust around their product. The scale of the adoption of the hacks above was so noticeable that Google decided to improve its 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.
A few months ago, I wrote an article that 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 directions on how to get higher rankings have 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 new terms began to arise: inbound marketing, growth hacking, content marketing, etc. They still mostly adapt “you-know-what” but try to omit the word somehow.
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, and 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
Are these the comments that provide value to readers? This is not marketing; this is simply spam.
Is this real content marketing? This is not even a spam – this is a pure crap!!
Ok. Maybe it’s not about building relations, but at least he’s honest…
Is that the way content promotion should look like? (sigh)…
And so on and on and on…
Are you building your business on spam?
The examples above are just a peek of the iceberg. Trust me – there are more of them: fake account creation, link buying, link exchanges, etc. They have one thing in common – they are spam.
Most of the 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 poor content published on WordPress templates and blogs which look like one of those websites from the nineties.
A few years ago, it was easy. Few link blasts, a 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 quality wouldn’t either.
Google is getting better and better at 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 it build your brand. Take Tad Chef’s blog, for example. Even though he decided to block Google, he managed to develop his 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!