When I was a kid I had a friend. His name doesn’t really matter to this story, so we will call him Gary. Gary was one of those kids that would always come over to the house to play with toys or on the Atari and would be very pleasant while he was at the house; he would say very nice things, eat my Twinkies and other such pleasantries.
Over time, though, I started hearing rumors that Gary was doing and saying not-so-nice things about me when I wasn’t around.
Of course, as time went on this started to irritate me more and more. I liked Gary. He had things I liked and needed from time to time and was always a good source of information and stories. So I continued to hang out with Gary because even though he was kind of an asshole, the relationship was mutually beneficial.
Which, I know, kind of makes me an asshole too.
But such is life.
After a while, however, Gary just got ballsy.
He started to do and say things contrary to his original nice guy stance right in public. All the while still telling me he thought I was swell.
This is a completely true story. In fact, the kids name actually was Gary. And we have all known a Gary in our lives. Truth is, we probably know one or two right now.
And you know where I am going with this, I hope.
Gary is Google and Google is eating your Twinkies.
This has been going on for some time. And while many of Google’s updates and general doings are mostly good for the end user, many are so blantantly self-serving or anti-SEO that you’d have to be a complete idiot to think their monicker “do no evil” really holds any water within the company.
From their addition of Google + results into the search results without including other social networks with the same amount of face time (which it sounds like they are now pulling back on) to the more recent addition of Gmail in search results (which is just idiotic, even if it is only if requested) the Big G is showing more and more where its interest lies as a company…itself.
Truth is, I don’t hate Google for any of this. Contrary to what most of us think, Google is a business and in business you are going to look out for numero uno.
And that’s cool, man. It’s cool.
What irritates me is the utter lie Google as a company perpetuates that this is not the case, when many of the things they do show the complete opposite.
And they do the same thing with the SEO industry.
In Matt Cutts recent Keynote address at Search Engine Strategies San Francisco, he once again repeated what we have all hear on several occasions; Google doesn’t hate SEO.
Once again, however, I read something just yesterday that completely contradicts this statement. In his article, Google Rank-Modifying Spammers Patent, Bill Slawski writes about a 2010 Google Patent which highlights how the search engine may respond if it feels a website use utilizing spam to enhance its rankings.
While I agree with all of the highlighted areas which are referred to as spam, such as keyword stuffing, meta tag stuffing and hidden text, what I don’t agree with is the shady way in which Google is dealing with it or the fact that it makes no exceptions for solid SEO practices.
Let’s say you are trying to rank for the term “Puppy Kisses”. Good solid SEO would state that you create a website around the subject matter. Create highly relevant content related to that term, add and optimize images and video content so that the search engines can read them properly and optimize the meta title and description tags to help entice users to click on your listing.
I mean, there is a whole lot more to it than that, but in a nutshell…yeah, that’s what you would need to do.
So let’s say a month down the road you are ranking in the 7th position for that term and you would like to make a couple changes to my listed page to maybe bump it up a bit to get more visibility. So you maybe change my title tag a bit, or change your on-page content slightly. By no means keyword stuffing, but maybe making the page a little more relevant to the term based on your competitive research of those in the top positions.
You check a few days later and my page is now on the bottom of the second page in the 17th position.
“Holy crap!” You say to yourself. Did you do something wrong? Should you change those things back to get back to the 7th position and try again?
Nope. That’s just Google screwing with ya!
See, according to the patent…and it has been something I have noticed over the past couple of years, Google saw you make those adjustments and went ahead and dropped your page just to see if you would take those adjustments away so they could label your practices as Spam and penalize you.
The problem is what you did was not spam it was good SEO.
And this is where it becomes apparent that no matter what Matt Cutts or the rest of the Googlers say, they hate you. They don’t want you to improve your site so you can improve your business.
And I am not talking about spam here. Spam is bad. I am talking about SEO.
And guess what? Google didn’t invent SEO, so I have never and will never take their word on what is best for my site and visitors.
I will read the webmaster rules and I will do my best to adhere to them. But I’ll be damned if I am going to tiptoe on eggshells to make something happy that only cares about its own self interest.
And you should do the same.
Truth is, all spam is is something that was okay a few months ago.
Like link building.
And what I am guessing will happen to Pinterest…or content development.
They will all become spam techniques as soon as Google feels people are abusing them.
Whether they are or not.
So, what can you do? How the hell can you overcome something which seems to inherently hate the things you do?
Stop caring about them.
Some of the best SEO advice I ever received was this (and I wish I could recall where I heard it):
Promote your website like Google doesn’t exist.
What would you do to get your website noticed without Google? Networking? Utilizing social media? Building your brand presence so people just know who you are?
Do those things. And build your website to be the best it can be for your customer-base or visitors.
And stop caring what Google thinks about you. Because it’s when we do that we spend too much time trying to beat the system.
And it’s when we try to beat the system that we screw up and the system hates us.