Rightfully so, Google has always aimed to show the most relevant, quality websites when people search for information online. In a perfect online world, every site with amazing content would be top ranked for their respective keywords. Unfortunately, the web is full of spammy, non-relevant and malicious content aimed solely and making money for web masters and internet marketers. Their use of automated, scammy link building has led has surprisingly worked (and still works) to help them raise the rankings of their money sites, depriving users of the best search experience.
To combat this, Google has recently announced a major algorithm change to their search spiders, which is aimed at combatting ‘over-optimized’ websites that modify their content and links to manipulate search engine results. Without getting into the discussion of what Google has recommended in the past (for responsible SEO) versus what they now consider ‘over-optimization’, it’s fair to say that Google’s efforts are noble. It’s a hard, almost impossible task to clean up the web of spam, but they have to do it to maintain their quality searches.
However, does their new algorithm go too far? Numerous reports are flying around the web about ridiculous search results, that contradict everything that Google is aiming to do with this release. Basically, any site that has typical ‘cheap’ SEO tactics, such as keyword stuffing, SEO content, or over-optimized link building, are set to be punished. However, labeling a bad guy is not as easy as simply detecting suspicious links and reading a few paragraphs on a person’s site. Here are my concerns:
- Penalizing people for something they didn’t do. As far as we know, link building can’t be traced to an individual or company. Recent evidence shows that websites with suspicious back links, ex. Links from spammy sites with exact keyword text, or tons of links built in a small amount of time, can be used punished using the new algorithm. If it doesn’t look ‘natural’, it’s suspicious. However, ANYONE can link to any site they deem fit. The company or website has no control over who links to them. So this brings in the rise of Negative SEO. Black Hat SEOs now have the chance to use malicious, irresponsible link building techniques on their competitors sites, causing Google to potentially punish those sites, clearing the way for the SEO’s money site to rise. Essentially, anyone has the potential to ‘frame’ another site. If the news is true, then we might be in for a very dirty time in the SEO industry.
- Google sets unrealistic expectations. There’s no doubt that the best tactic for a website or business is to write great content, build great online relationships, and spread their brand across the web. This builds natural, high quality and relevant links which will eventually reward the website with great rankings. However, when the SEO world is already so integrated with powerful domains, with amazing reach, or years of natural (and unnatural) link building, how are newcomers supposed to compete? The fact is, that for years, Google has recommended an action plan that’s less effective (for most people) than the conventional SEO method of gaining a large mix of both low and high quality links. Whether Google has liked it or not, it’s works. To see clients spend months trying to build naturally, while their competitors use less natural method of linking but reap the rewards of high rankings (and higher sales) is frustrating to see. I haven’t seen any evidence to show that the new algorithms are helping the ‘little guys’, if anything, it’s seeing a rise in rankings for large corporations, who have massive sites and tons of links. How is the small business supposed to compete with that?
- Black Hat SEO will always outsmart the Algorithm. From a pessimistic point of view, those that develop the ‘black-hat’ methods of link building that Google despises will always be one step ahead of the algorithm. In the end, it’s a computer attempting to distinguish what’s relevant for humans. Once a certain type of link building is deemed ineffective, SEOs will find ways to appear natural to Search Engines, and continue to dominate in rankings. By giving more arsenal to the bad guys (by punishing ‘bad’ link building), Google may be heading into a period of odd, strange rankings dominated by clever spam artists and major corporations.
I’m by no means against Google’s move to combat the SEO villains. However, I’m concerned that this latest move is a bit too harsh, too aggressive, and may be punishing the wrong people. Google has a very very hard task ahead of them, I just hope they tackle it responsibly before they cause the complete opposite of what they want.
What do you think Google should be doing to help clean up our search engines?