Google’s Role as a Lone Sheriff in a Wild West of SEO Outlaws Apparent in Latest Algo UpdateApril 26th, 2012 by Mike
“Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday” ― John Wayne
As the dust begins to clear from Google’s most recent algorithm update, its safe to say that Google is still trying to play sheriff in a wild west of SEO outlaws that simply have it outnumbered.
Grounds for Punishment
Both in his talk at SXSW and in the post announcing the recent changes, Matt Cutts made it clear that the new algorithm would be targeting at least some the following webspam techniques:
- Keyword Stuffing
- Reciprocal Linking
- Spun Content with Unnatural Linking Patterns
Wait, Didn’t Google Already Enforce These Laws?
Yes, but as more shady SEO characters began to stake claim on the internet and come out on top, it left many of them to believe that Google didn’t quite have the chops to take on some of the outlaws moving into town. As you can see in their public outcry:
- How Google Makes Liars Out of the Good Guys in SEO
- How Organized Spam is Taking Control of Google’s Search Results
- How Garbage Ranks in the SERPs
So as any good sheriff would, Google stepped up to show off its true grit and lay down the law on some of the more obvious criminals in town as a means of making sure its townspeople (in this case webmasters and white-hat SEO’s) knew they had the situation under control and that they would not be overtaken by outlaws.
But as we watch a number of sites hang at the hand of Google over these next few days a large number of sites will go untouched simply because they were a less obvious threat. Sites that look like swindlers and bandits and have the evidence to support the case will hang quickly for their wrongdoing, but those sites that put on a charming front to hide their dark past will continue to roam this land of opportunity we call the internet at the expense of honest, hard-working webmaster and SEO’s.
I’ve done some digging in the verticals I work in and sites whose backlink profiles can easily be picked apart with a simple scan using Open Site Explorer show that Google still can’t properly identify an outlaw if they look clean on the surface. In other words, if you look clean on the surface and people for the most part like you, Google really doesn’t notice what you’re doing behind the scenes.
It’s Time To Hire Some Deputies…
I’m not sure what its going to take to get Google to a point where it’s not making its laws harsher, but instead enabling itself to police its laws better and protect the hard-working, honest webmasters and SEO’s working and living on the internet. Google’s algorithm still relies too heavily on signals attributed to links and anchor text, an element of its algorithm which got Google into this mess in the first place. Social signals, semantics, author rank, localization, personalization and the like are all great ways to help Google better sort out the good guys from the bad guys. The sooner Google employs the help of these elements the sooner I believe the web as we know it will start to finally see more qualified search results and fewer.
So how did you site fare in this recent update? Did it hang at high noon, or are you finally enjoying the land of opportunity?