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May 8, 2012

Beware Google Bearing Gifts? When Too Much is Too Much

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There are a few experiences that stand out ━ not only because of the impact of the action in that moment in time, but also for the reverberations that persist long after.

One such event occurred at SMX East 2011. The Ask the Search Engines session was standing room only. Google’s rep was Tiffany Oberoi and she sat at the front of the room next to reps for Bing and Blekko. Tiffany had brought with her a bottle of Windex. You can just make out its small blue form on the table next to her in the picture.

Her visual aid supported a claim that Google was going to be more transparent with webmasters. High marks to Tiffany for a presentation that cut through the noise. Even more impressive, Google’s stuck to its word ━ whether or not for the better of the search engine optimization industry remains up for debate.

That event was a turning point in the way Google addresses the SEO industry.

We used to get confirmation that some 400+ obscured algorithm changes had occurred over a year and we were happy to get it. Now Google parades 50+ changes to search each month, spelled out in straightforward detail. Launch codenames, project codenames, and algo updates named after cute critters?

Google’s up to something. The search engine used to lock down its intel tighter than Fort Knox and now it’s spilling secrets faster than Niagra Falls. I suspect their intent is to bombard us with more information than we know what to do with. Google tried to keep SEO in check by withholding information. The less they told us, the more we poked and dug and snooped. Now they hurl every update at us in bloody detail, sending us into a tailspin of overanalysis.

Here’s a call to value SEO wisdom above knowledge. We can use that Windex alright, but to our advantage. Let’s clean up the discourse and clear up our thinking to embrace a long view of search engine marketing beyond algo chasing.





6 responses to “Beware Google Bearing Gifts? When Too Much is Too Much”

  1. Dan Bochichio writes:

    I’m not sure if they are really up to something, or if these types of transparency changes have to do with the Federal investigations last Summer. I would point my finger to that, since a lot of their openness began shortly after.

  2. Virginia Nussey writes:

    Dan, good point. In that case the SEO industry hysteria is just a fun side effect for them to chuckle over during happy hour. ;)

  3. Rick writes:

    If Google really wants to be transparent, they should let website owners or webmasters know which backlinks are causing a problem, so they can work on removing them to be in compliance.

  4. Virginia Nussey writes:

    Point taken. Bruce actually had some interesting thoughts on this topic when I talked to him about over-optimization penalties before it was known as Penguin. Since you mention it I think I’ll put that video up. In the meantime here’s a text version:

    “Google does not give you anywhere the ability to say what are my rotten links. What you do is you get in and you do your best to figure out what links you have but you never get a complete inventory. Given that you can inventory what you have as best you can, you get in and try to weed out the bad ones. you apply for reinclusion, only for google to come back and say “What about? Here are 3 samples.” And those are 3 samples you’ve never seen before. And you fix those 3 samples and anything you think might be like them and then you go and you do the reinclusion request again and google comes back and says what about these other inorganics or what about this or what about that. [...]

    I’m going to have people link to me that I’d just as soon have not link to me, but if I don’t know that they link to me what can I do about it? And that’s really where my big risk is. That google is using factors that are being hidden from me or at least not visible to me to determine whether I’m good or bad. And then, when they determine I’m bad they’re not giving me the infomration to correct it.”

    Thanks, Rick!

  5. Andy Aitch writes:

    Hello Virginia.

    After a number of years as the webmaster of numerous projects, it’s quite ironic that the way that’s suggested to build a website today is exactly the same as it was all those year ago (ignoring all algorithms). CONTENT IS KING – period! And Google’s message today is the same as it was back in the day; DON’T WRITE FOR THE SEARCH ENGINES, WRITE QUALITY CONTENT FOR YOUR AUDIENCE and you will rise through the ranks.

    The advice on how to build a quality, white hat site, is today, exactly the same as it always was, with absolutely nothing new to add.

    So despite all the bells, whistles, products, and costly services to get ranked in the SERPS, here we are back to the very basics!

    Perhaps the only difference between then and now is that a higher profile on social networks related to your niche will probably help establish your authority. It all takes work, dedication, and commitment, and anything for sale in between is just a short term stab in the dark!

    Other than this, IMHO, all the other crap that goes around is just there to confuse unnecessarily.

  6. Virginia Nussey writes:

    Haha! Andy, couldn’t agree more. And even worse, giving air time to crap tactics does a disservice to SEO since it makes the industry look like schlock hawkers.



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