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September 22, 2010

Dear Google… Stop Making Me Look Like a Fool!

Dear Google,

I’m tired of you making me look like a fool.

I’ve spent a good portion of the last 10 years patiently explaining to business owners and budding SEO enthusiasts that the key to being found in Google is to have one, great, all-encompassing website. That throwing up multiple keyword-rich domain doorway sites is a fool’s errand. That writing crappy articles and submitting them to networks full of other crappy articles is a waste of time and bandwidth. That keyword-stuffed gibberish on your website just makes it look stupid. That link farms are spammy.

And I really thought that by 2010 all of the above would be 100% true. And yet they’re not. I’m not sure if they’re even 50% true.

Now don’t go telling me that you’ll eventually catch all that stuff – because that’s what you’ve been saying for years and yet you don’t. Even when it’s repeatedly pointed out to you. I just don’t believe you anymore. I see the same search engine spam showing up today that I saw and pointed out 5 years ago. I see keyword domains and URLs that have nothing of value, yet they show up highly in the search results only because the URL matches exactly. I see fake links trumping natural links everywhere I turn. I see how one company with 10 similar but different websites can dominate the top 20 results.

The worst part is how you’ve single-handedly created the entire link-building and link-buying industries. Link building is the most distasteful, horrible act to have to perform for a website. It’s unnatural and something that should not even exist. Which is why I’ve always told people to have a link-worthy site and get the word out about it to the right people (through marketing) and they’d receive great links.

But you’ve made a liar out of me. While that naive suggestion can definitely bring links to a website, they rarely have the best anchor text that you require. You put way too much stock in anchor text, which one rarely receives through natural links. This in turn forces people to beg for or buy the “unnatural” links that you claim to dislike, but are secretly in love with.

Google, I’m sure you’re aware of the companies that charge as much as $50,000 a month to write useless articles and spin them through spam-generating word-mixer-upper software (which turns a few articles into hundreds). Then they pop some keyword-rich anchor text links into their client’s website and upload them to their network of thousands of blogs and fake review sites where the nonsensical (but appropriately linked) articles get posted.

And it works! Yes, Google, those keyword-rich links on crap sites hugely boost the rankings for the targeted website in YOUR search results – and for highly competitive phrases, no less. It’s true that those links won’t last or count for very long (cuz you’re not that stupid), but because they continually repeat the process, it does indeed keep working. As long as the client is willing to pay for polluting the Internet (and for your search results), it works.

It’s sad, Google. It really is.

If the fake link building didn’t work so well, or the keyword-rich multiple domains never got ranked, maybe the companies looking for better placement in your search results would invest their money in the creation of amazing websites. But why should they? It’s a lot easier for them to generate the spam that you love, Google, and point it to their small lead-generation website(s). Sigh.

Anyway, Google, I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know. Just let me know when you find an algorithm that really does reward the good stuff and not the bad. In the meantime, I’ll keep telling people to make their websites be the best that they can be for their users so that there might be a few less horrible websites showing up at the top of your search results.

But when they ask me whether my way works better than spamming you, I’ll have to tell them the truth.

Your friend,


P.S. I just got an email from someone asking if it was okay with you if they bought 10 keyword-rich domains and created “satellite sites” out of them that point to their main site. I told them yes/no/I don’t know. Sigh.

P.S.S. You’re still way better than the other search engines!

Jill Whalen, CEO of High Rankings and co-founder of SEMNE, has been performing SEO services since 1995. Jill is the host of the High Rankings Advisor newsletter and the High Rankings SEO forum. If you’ve lost search engine traffic and would like Jill to determine what the problem might be, fill out the contact form at and mention it in the “Business Goals” section. She can review most sites that have Google Analytics installed for a one-time $600 fee.

23 Responses to “Dear Google… Stop Making Me Look Like a Fool!

    avatar Myself says:

    Would it not have been better if you just gave some URL examples. The URLs could come from the search results of Google and highlight the scenarios that you kept whining about in your write up.

    avatar Gordon says:

    What a really great article. I have had this debate, probably about 6 times in thre lest month. The trouble is that having these “farms” of microsites works, so long as you keep one way links and unique content.

    avatar Andy Dale says:

    I am now well confused. I am trying to improve my Goolge ranking for new website and everywhere I seek advice I get conflicted answers. I have been told ‘Content is King’ and been told to spin articles but then was told this was just a money making gimmick service that companies offered. Now I am not sure the way forward.

    avatar Jay R says:

    What a great article!
    I have been having this discussion for some years now. It is true, we are following the good pratices announced and we go on seeing the bad pratices being always rewarded.
    It is about time for Google to demonstrate in the day to day pratice that their algoritm “understands” what they say.
    By now I only think that Google is still number one because some how people go on saying what is wrinten in P.S.S. in this article.

    avatar Dan says:


    I just love this article. We have competitors that have keyword rich URL networks of websites ( many of them actually ) just to link back to their main selling website.

    You can find the target keyword 35 times just in the home page of one of them.

    When you look up links pointing to them, most of them come from websites about similar subject or related ones .. some of them are just junk , others actually have descent info.. the thing is.. that if you whois these other websites, they all have the same registrant and are clearly managed by the same people.

    I couldn’t agree more with this article.. but at the same time, like you say, google is still the best around.. but it does force us to sepnd money and time in rather crappy issues in place of enriching our websites and services.

    bravo Jill !!

    Ps. Question – Th irony in this article linking to your website for SEO purposes is just great !!!

    avatar Kevin Penny says:

    Great article Jill. Website owners like me are really confused as to what actually will get your website top rankings with Google, even though we have done most all of the right things. Thanks for posting this.

    avatar Lou U says:

    Well said Jill! and in a fun way.

    I have been waiting for Google to slap down these polluters for years.

    The problem is the algorithms – computers just are not smart enough yet.

    But I think it will come. I’ll probably be long dead, though.

    avatar MG says:

    Yes..I too felt like a fool this week…I googled a hub it comes up 3rd place, I google it again and it could suddenly not even be found by the exact title…3 days later..I google the same hub, it comes up 1st place..I google it again and it dropped totally of the first page of 100 searches..that hub was not even seriously back linked..
    Other hubs that has been back linked does not even get indexed..
    And lately if I google my name..I get a lot of funny dummy sites that shows my name and some of my article’s titles, but when I open it, there is nothing about my name in the content or my hubs, only some sort of advertising for some company…how does google pick up my name then? I’ve been trying everything that I read on how to get on google, but nothing really works solid as they say…and all this back linking seems annoying..if I have maybe 50 articles, then 50 articles must be back linked till kingdom come to just to ensure that maybe 100 people per week will read it coming from tedious.. 🙂

    avatar NL-DIGITAL says:

    This article is perfect and very funny. Thanks a lot. Had a great time reading it and I must agree all.

    avatar Jill Whalen says:

    Thanks everyone!

    Even more irony is that Matt Cutts asked me on Twitter to show him some examples. How come all of us see this every day in practically every SERP and he needs examples?

    Surely he knows exactly what I’m talking about?

    Well said Jill. My thoughts exactly. Thank you for posting.

    avatar Adam says:

    Good article and so painfully true. Another thing which pains me in SEO is the accepted wisdom that you need to make sure your pages are keyword rich. I’ve seen so many sites now that focus on this to such an extent they forget their target audience is actually human and their site’s are all but unreadable.

    I wish there was a better, more honest way…

    Love the article. I am a newbie to SEO and bought into the whole write articles and make micro-niche sites. And heard how important backlinks are. All I could think was, it didn’t make any sense. Shouldn’t a website rank higher in Google because it’s a really great website? And not because someone paid someone else to do the backlinks for them? I just don’t get it…I am kind of jaded about it all now.

    avatar peter says:

    brilliantly said.

    about 2 years ago, i managed to get a domain banned from google….

    since it is (really) easier to get a response form Heaven than it is to get one from google, i tried the only possible means of contact – the webmaster’s forum…

    i wanted to know where the line was drawn – what are you allowed to do, and what not?

    you see, some people submit crappy articles for backlinks…

    but some of us do it for traffic.

    (we also create videos, submit documents, engage in social networking….)

    and if it is a crappy article, so id the traffic….;)

    and since you have NO idea if and when google will be sending you traffic (when u start building), you have to take other steps to get it – at least in the meantime.

    after all – you would not advertise your offline business in ONLY one place, would you? It’s just bad business sense.

    and google’s reasoning is:

    “if search engines did not exist, would you be doing this?”

    HELL YES – i would be doing a lot more of it – since i would not be afraid of awakening the internet god and facing his wrath….


    what happened? (on the forum)

    i got slammed by the “seo experts” – who told me that i have to just build a good site, and wait for a year to see if i did it right…

    yeah, right.

    you create a one-man business, and you have to wait for a YEAR to see if it was all in vain.

    keep your daytime job in the meantime, pal…

    so i raised the same question jill did…

    how am i supposed to do it right, when google is allowing foul play all the way?

    because as long as they do, the only way you will ever get traffic is by going local (seo-wise), or targeting long tail kw’s and feed off the scraps.


    no google employee came to the thread…

    no matter how much dust i kicked up.

    my reasoning was like this:

    if there is a law, there has to be a limit – like a speed limit, a tax limit, the legal weight a truck can carry, the maximum you can deduct from your tax…

    so i can know where to draw the line…

    so what did the experts say?

    if google told us the rules, some people would “just stay within them”, and USE that limit.


    OF COURSE i would – why would i drive 30 miles per hour in a 55 zone?

    but at least i would know when to take it easy.


    apparently, we do not need to know the rules…

    so picture this…

    you get in your car and drive.

    you do not know what you are doing – because there are NO road signs…

    and if a traffic offices stops you, you do not even know IF you are in trouble.

    but if you are, you lose your car…

    what do you get? CHAOS

    scared yet?

    as for matt – let me hold my thoughts, and not open myself to a lawsuit.

    but i will agree with you – he has (probably) the most advanced technology at his disposal.

    if he cannot use it, he obviously has other priorities…

    and you know what the SAD part of all of this is?

    the creators of real content are the ones being worked over…

    while we are creating what search engine users are actually looking for….

    enough said.

    at the time, i tried to kick up some dust and try to get someone from google to contact me…

    no luck. ever.

    but since you and matt are already on speaking terms…

    hopefully something good will come of this.

    me? i am slowly de-googalizing my business

    meaning that i am working on getting traffic from other sources…

    google still sends me some traffic – but if they cannot enforce their own rules…

    or at least tell what they are…

    i’m not playing.

    thanx for standing up

    you speak for many of us.


    avatar James says:

    I think you just spoke what has been in the hearts and minds of every serious webmaster for years! Well, keep hope alive. Maybe someday it will be true. Thanks for the article. It is just nice to know that I am not alone in feeling like no bad deed goes unrewarded, and no good deed goes unpunished!

    avatar Brett says:

    I’m glad to see more people talking about how far off base Google is, for the past year I have been saying they couldn’t find their own ass with both hands.
    I don’t even bother with site maps or worry about SEO as it just seems to be a waste of time.
    And now after reading your article is see it is nothing more than a sales pitch…review a site for $600.00? your funny.

    avatar NM says:

    Thank you for writing that article. It is very difficult to be an ethical webmaster and encourage clients to be ethical as well when unethical practices seem to be rewarded.

    avatar Mark Carter says:

    Well said Jill. This article did make me chortle a bit. Someone finally had the guts to scream it out loud. It’s on all of our minds all of the time and clients constantly say “Well my competitor does it, why can’t I, he’s at the top of page 1 and I am at the bottom of page 1”.
    This is a ready good read and I enjoyed it, thanks

    avatar Jim says:

    Amen Jill! It’s why some companies get ranked higher on search engine pages versus the companies that actually convert more site visitors into customers! By concentrating on good content and careful use of the messages, savvy buyers of the SEO services we provide will be longtime users of our services, and excellent referrals for new business.

    avatar Jill Whalen says:

    Brett, that “sales pitch” was not from me. The person at SiteProNews added that in for some reason. Not that I mind, but the article wasn’t written for that reason.

    SiteProNews takes articles from my newsletter and posts them here. I think I had that line about the review at the end of a different one previously where it made more sense, so they’ve been using it as part of my bio.

    Everybody else, it does seem like the letter struck a chord with many. Thanks for all the comments, keep ’em coming!

    I have to agree with Brett on this one.

    Point is, we all know what’s going on. Are the right people (Google) getting the message and do they really care?
    It’s all about money, isn’t it? Principles, honesty, ethics and morals don’t seem to matter.

    And this …review a site for $600.00?

    What’s it all about, Alfie?

    avatar Hannah says:

    Google is smart, but not that smart to constant keep up with the trips people use nowaday. The only to do that is to manually review every site, and that’s just impossible. It’s a game of cat and mouse and the mouse is always one step ahead.

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