by Nathan S
A recent blog post on SEOMoz is based on a rather interesting premise: Author Wil Reynolds, an SEO trying his best to be as ethical as Google imagines for its own future, expressing immense frustration about the fact that some of the best (by his estimation) SEO companies in the world are losing out to those who use what he would describe as “less than ethical” practices. Spammy links are, perhaps, the most vehemently attacked practices in the post.
This is a good thing, and a rather amusing post to read. I highly recommend reading it if you have the time. The relationship between SEOs and Google is like a bad romance. Google has a list of guidelines for people to follow if they want to “rank well,” and in many cases this yields some pretty good results. However, consistently, the people who rank the best are also those who are very clearly breaking some of the rules which Google laid out. It’s enough to drive SEOs like Reynolds up the wall. The most-often broken guidelines to be seen in successful websites are the linking guidelines.
Link Quantity, Keywords, Relevance, and Quality, in that Order
This is the only way I can reconcile the reality of link-building with the guidelines Google lays down. It would seem that the linking part of their algorithm is one of the least sophisticated, based on how easy it is to gain rankings by collecting a bunch of links. Where those links come from seem to matter less than the keywords they contain, and the quality of those links seems to matter even less. I see this as a problem in Google’s algorithm.
However, it does not seem to be a problem which is going away anytime soon, and it is for this reason that Reynolds and other SEOs like him are becoming increasingly irate. They are like anybody else who is dealing with a duplicitous entity and assuming it is honest: They’re left scorned by the other and wondering what it is that they did wrong, when what they did wrong was not breaking the rules every now and then. Fair? Absolutely not! But it seems to be the mode in which Google operates, at least with regards to links.
As for the other Google practices which SEOs across the internet call into question on a daily basis, such as sponsored search results and Google AdWord bidding, I’m not sure I have an opinion on those yet.