A client has a new website and has been working on SEO for his site for around four months is frustrated because his website is not ranking fast enough, and he is now in the mindset that Google is the problem. He begins doing research into search engine optimization and finds many different and confusing strategies that each seo company claims to be the correct one, and naturally begins to doubt his own company's strategy. He will also read about penguins, pandas, hummingbirds and a slew of other names for algorithm updates that have changed the landscape of seo, brutally doing so by de-ranking websites that are considered "low quality." He will read articles from seo companies who were sued or went out of business when Google changed the ranking factors, or articles from angry businesses who have lost customers when they lost their rankings. While it seems like Google is the bad guy here, seen in articles like this one from a blog called Small Business Savings: http://www.savingsmallbusiness.org/, in reality Google has actually done something very good, and is benefiting good websites by clearing out all of the cheaters. Naturally, the cheaters are angry about it and are taking to the airwaves to talk about how Google ruined them with unfair policies, and in reality they are simply cheaters who got caught and who are complaining as they are being thrown out of the party.
What follows is an email response to a client going through this frustration, who is blaming Google and quoting from articles like the one mentioned above.
"I completely and 100% disagree, this article is a spin, written by an angry seo cheat who got his seo business destroyed because he was employing tactics that were against Google’s terms in order to artificially inflate their rankings over good sites. Now, because his actions have cost him his business, he writes things like this that claim that Google is responsible for ruining him. That’s exactly like a thief getting arrested and then claiming that his victims are to blame and that they had a responsibility to inform him that stealing is wrong.
Let me explain my stance on this. Basically up until the release of Panda (and Penguin) Google had stated that their motivations were to have the “highest quality information on a subject” be the reason that a website ranks. This means that searches for “t-shirts” would supposedly return the websites that had contained the highest quality of information on t-shirts. The problem was that this was not the way it worked, because Google used inbound links to determine “quality.” Google believed that if someone from another website would link to you, it must be a vote of confidence that the information on your site is good. In Google’s eyes, this meant the more links the better the site. SEO companies were employed by ecommerce websites to build thousands of links to their sites, and pump their rankings up, even though most of them had absolutely no information on t-shirts on their sites, let alone THE BEST INFORMATION. The best rankings belonged to the companies who could get the most links, and this generally meant buying them. SEO companies created blog farms, where they controlled thousands of blogs that had lots of text on them and were manipulated to look like good websites to Google. You could pay for links on these sites, and this doesn’t prove quality, it only proves that you can write a check.
When Google unleashed Panda, almost 20% of ecommerce sites were wiped out, and they lost their rankings because they were based only on this single strategy, which Google has ALWAYS stated is against their terms of service. What they should have been doing all along was concentrating on creating good information and being the best in their field….but instead they wanted to cheat their way to the top quickly and without any work. When Panda de-ranked the sites, the ecommerce websites called their SEO companies and demanded to know what happened. Basically, many SEO companies ended up going out of business by being sued by their customers or just plain losing them all, because they had destroyed their businesses by ruining their rankings. Boo hoo….cheaters got caught and went out of business….good riddance.
Now businesses who simply employed an SEO company without researching the METHODS that were being used, and who got de-ranked, are trying to figure out how to save their businesses. They are now realizing that they needed to be employing companies like mine, that concentrate on content and website information value (and always have,) and are very mad at Google because they cannot simply apologize and get a clean slate to work from. They have been penalized and now it is going to be far more difficult and expensive to get them rankings, because we are working from a penalty when everyone else is working from a clean slate. Many quality SEO companies won’t even touch penalized sites, because either the job will be too difficult to provide results that are expected or the website owners believe that they can still somehow cheat their way in, just using a different seo company or strategy. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Whether you knew what was going on or you didn’t, your SEO company was violating Google’s terms IN YOUR NAME. That is a reflection on your business, and Google doesn’t believe that you have changed your ways just because you say you have. You have to prove it.
Google has no responsibility to rank any site just because it is an important revenue stream for a business. Google makes the rules at their party, and you can either play by them and participate in the benefits or you can complain about it and leave. Cheaters aren’t welcome here.
Attached is a screenshot of one of our clients analytics. It not only shows the same timeframe this guy shows in his graphic (when his business lost all rankings and was destroyed) but additionally it shows how traffic has continued to grow as Google expands their attempts at making QUALITY the priority of rankings, and not just cheating. Kind of interesting how my clients ended up BENEFITING FROM PANDA. What do I have to say to all those people crying about how Google ruined their lives? “Now go get your shinebox.”
Google wasn't the problem. People cheating Google were the problem. Now that the people who play by the rules are getting the benefits, the cheaters are crying foul.
Raymond Santopietro is the President and Lead Strategist For Focus Internet Services