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June 15, 2007

Google’s Sensibilities Jeopardize Search Engine Visibility

It is the year 2007, and we have truly entered an era of revolution; a technological revolution that is.  That term has been overused to say the least, but it is nonetheless true.  Unlike the Baby Boomers and their social revolution of the 1960’s, we are wired, switched on, plugged in, turned on and tuned in, and it has been technological revolution that has made all this possible.  We can be better students, workers and employers because technology allows us to stretch our creativity far beyond what our predecessors ever imagined.  Because of this, you would think that as a human race, we would be more evolved, smarter, and productive.  More importantly, as a human race we must have obtained a higher degree of common sense than all the generations that have preceded us.  We would like to think so, but I am convinced that even though we have the added and remarkable benefit of advanced technology, we have lost a great deal of our common sense.  This fact has been proven by the actions of people and companies all around the globe.

Now, based on the title of this article you already know where I am going, but the slam is not just against Google, it is an overall observation.

Since the boom of the Internet, people have wetted their appetites with thoughts of global marketing.  Google has certainly cashed in on this.  Some have actually estimated their worth to exceed $150 billion dollars.  Let me say that again, $150 billion! The internet boom can be likened to the California Gold Rush.  Companies and entrepreneurs have scrambled to tap into the global market, and Search Engine Visibility has been on the forefront of their hearts and minds. It is simply phenomenal to think that I can sell my idea to the whole world. My mind starts racing along at breakneck speed and in my heart I realize I can take over the world!

Colossal search engines have emerged like Google, Yahoo, ASK, ExactSeek, MSN, AOL and many others who provide portals capable of filtering out websites so users can search and find exactly what they are looking for.  As for the website owners, they desire the impossible …. the coveted “first page” of the search engine. For those who have really done their research, it is obvious that the true “Money Making Spot” is on the hallowed grounds of Google’s first page.

Some years back it was really simple to get top positions in Google and other search engines.  Search engine visibility was simply attained by a few tricks and manipulations that went right past the Google bots.  Well, that didn’t last, and Google wised up and changed the whole nature of their search engine. Thousands of sites lost position and there was panic and uproar on par with the stock market crash of 1929. Then as time moved on, we learned that Google just wanted to make their search engine more user friendly and full of quality search results to make the end user happy.  Fair enough.  We understood Google’s perspective, and in response, many people changed their tactics and used blogging and link building campaigns in addition to quality content to bolster their sites. This opened up tremendous business opportunities for web masters as those new strategies created a whole new set of services designed to meet Google’s requirements.  It was the internet at its best: the creation of commerce through technology and ingenuity. Unfortunately, many web masters didn’t follow these guidelines, and instead they offered “Pre Google Florida Update” techniques. In my research, I have found pitifully few companies that offer legitimate SEO tactics.

Currently, there are those who post their sites to directories and this has proved to be a reliable and stable technique. These directory sites mostly come at a price and the cost for the service can vary greatly.  Some are priced moderately around $10 to $20, while others can gouge the customer of upwards of hundreds of dollars.  The fact of the matter is that these are people working to make a better way to receive one-way links, and they have to physically manage their sites in order maintain quality link directories. I had previously written in a few forums that some of these prices were too high, and that webmasters should not be greedy, but consistent.  It may not be a popular idea, but I don’t think any directory site should charge more then $15.00 for a listing.  Think about the economics.  Higher prices drive the consumer away, but by offering an affordable service, you will attract customers on a mass scale and make even more money than you would have previously.

In this regard, Google crushed search engine visibility when they announced that they were going to punish webmasters by posting negative results to sites that pay for links on other sites.  They have even given a way to “tattle tell” on these site owners.  Maybe it is just me, but I simply do not trust anyone who turns to the secret police for help.  That is just a little too much power for one company.  Maybe Google wants to teach the World Wide Web a lesson and get the word out that they will not stand for those greedy people who like to take advantage of search engines.  

That is an interesting position considering it is coming from a company valued at $150 billion dollars.  I suppose they have enough power now to decide how much the rest of us should make.  They own the internet after all.  Well Google, if you are going to teach such a great lesson, then you must follow your own guidelines. Hypocrisy should not be tolerated!  Should we start reporting sites using Adwords? I mean, heck… they are paying Google to get their links not only on their own search engines but on thousands of sites that webmasters have strategically placed Google ads on. Every time someone clicks those ads, someone makes money.  What it comes down to is simple extortion on Google’s part.  The only way to succeed is to bow down and kiss the ring of the Googfather, and pray that he does not whack you the moment you turn around.  

Search around and look at the trends.  Thanks to Google, search engine visibility has dropped for many sites yet again, especially directory sites.  Has their PPC dropped?  I don’t think so! I think we need to make a stand against this. Though I love Google because their search engine brings Great Results for us, they are making power moves by these statements and now 100’s of directory sites are sitting dead in the water, while leaving high ranking sites that no one wants to list out of fear of Google’s reprisals. This is wrong and I think Google needs to re-think this method.

So my appeal is to Google, remember your humble beginnings at Stanford University , and stop this nonsense.  You used to be a fun kid, now you’re just the bully of the playground who is intent on stealing the ball.  Stop making your great company look like web terrorist who strips money away from hard working business people.   If you want to make a point, why don’t you punish the sites actually guilty of taking advantage of the consumer?  Leave the rest of us small fish alone.  We are only trying to make a living.  As for reporting abuse, should we stoop so low as to become web snitches?  What if we take this so literal that we all start complaining against sites that use your own adwords? It is exactly the same line of thinking. I am just using good common sense here. Google, you have the power to make your point.  You also have the ability to help site owners from being ripped off.  Use your power judiciously instead of what you are doing now.

Now, to those site owners who are not sure what to do about gaining search engine visibility without the benefit of directory sites, listen up!  This is a must “need to know” strategy to apply until Google changes their ways. Start writing content for your sites and add a blog as well.  Make statements about your industry and convince readers that you know what you are doing.  Write articles and submit them all over the web as this can’t hurt you in the search engines.  My point is content, content, content!!! Google still loves content and still gives great rankings for this. So while we wait for the Godfather to make his next decree, try this strategy.  Google can’t outlaw content, especially original content. In fact, I will gain rankings in Google from this article alone!

Author:  Darren Dunner owns the web development company Based in Southern California, Internetzonei helps small to medium sized enterprises create and facilitate online communication strategies.