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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.