I know you’re a pro at knowing who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, but I figured I’d give you a little help when it comes to Google. After all, you get awfully busy at this time of year, and with so many little boys and girls to keep track of, you might not realize everything that the world’s largest search engine has been up to in 2012.
Sadly, Santa, I’m afraid to report that Google needs a spot right on your “naughty” list.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Start by talking to any of the people who were wrongfully hit by the Penguin update. Oh, sure, Penguin was designed to target site owners who were gaming the system (“webspammers,” as Google calls them). Plenty of bad guys got nailed, which is great. Unfortunately, a lot of quality site owners got caught in the crosshairs, too. Now, no matter how hard they try, those good website owners can’t get back to the top of the rankings. That gets a big, fat “naughty” in my opinion.
And speaking of the top of the rankings, I can’t seem to find Rudolph listed on page one of Google’s results for the keyword “reindeer.” In fact, I had to scroll almost to the bottom of page two before I spotted Rudolph’s Wikipedia page. Where’s Rudolph’s Google love this year? Did he not update his blog enough to merit a higher ranking?
But that’s not all…
Santa, I know you’re not very involved with the SEO industry, so let me fill you in on a little secret – some naughty people are using links as weapons to bring down the search rankings of their competitors. Google claimed to fix the problem back in October when it created a Link Disavow tool. Unfortunately, to use this tool, website owners have to check all of their links by hand and manually submit all of the bad ones to Google. Unlike you, Santa, they don’t have a bunch of elves to help them, so for small business owners, there’s not much of an opportunity to really take advantage of this tool.
I don’t think that’s very nice, do you?
Website owners also found it more difficult to track their SEO progress this year. Santa, I know that little boys and girls are always happy with the toys you leave under their Christmas trees, but online business owners don’t have it quite so easy. We don’t always know if the keywords we’re targeting are working, so we like to head into our Google Analytics accounts to see if we’re getting as much traffic from those keywords as we had hoped.
Unfortunately, Google has put a major damper on that. Now, website owners are getting a ton of traffic from the keyword “not provided.” Google admits to making a change that increased the number of “not provided” results that pop up, which is pretty “naughty” in my opinion, because it makes it pretty difficult to improve your SEO efforts that way. (Oh sure, there are other analytics programs, but many of them pull information from Google, and most of them aren’t free like Google Analytics is.)
So, Santa, when you’re packing up your sleigh on Christmas Eve, I hope you’ll take all of this into consideration. Google may have done some good things this year, but overall, I think they’ve definitely earned a spot on your “naughty” list.