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This 64 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 64 ( 1 [2] 3 > >     
Should SEO Specialists Follow Google's Guidelines Blindly?
Or rather determine when to follow them, and when to break them.
reseller

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 8:46 am on May 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hi Folks

I have been always in support of following Google's Webmaster Guidelines. However, recently I found myself in doubt whether those guidelines should be followed blindly be SEO specialists, and to some extent webmasters.

Reasons of my doubt is Google's employees comments since the arrive of BigDaddy. And let me say it more clear, I feel that Google doesn't care much about the dropped innocent sites. It doesn't care much about lost pages. It doesn't care much about sites loosing ranking for no logical reasons.

And I see Google's employees don't tell what exactly happening anymore.

Under such situation, Clients are pressing SEO specialists to correct what Google destroyed and "bring much needed justice" back to Google's serps again. Self Justice, you might say.

I'm not blaming Google's employees for working to benefit and protect Google's financial interest. I'm not blaming them for not telling us the truth either. And I'm not blaming them for writing Webmaster Guidelines for protecting Google's interests primely.

I'm just asking, shouldn't SEO specialists do as Google's employees and serve their own business and clients interests?

 

phantombookman

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 8:31 am on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Cart before the horse?

Without the content, how do you acquire quality inbound links?

Pageone
I know all this and continue to tell my brother that things will right themselves eventually.

The point is, however good the content is if nobody sees it nobody will link.
The site is not a business nor does it generate money therefore paid links etc are not viable.

I stick to the point that overall content is not king.
If you have plenty of strong sites you can rank any old cr*p well.

I took one of my brothers pages, swapped most of the words for random text - turned it into gibberish but optimized it- stuck it on one of my sites which was completely off topic and three days later it went #2 in Google for a 2 word search, the original page is nowhere to be seen.

Most of my old established sites I keep very clean and if you like 'white hat'
I do not do that when I want to launch a new one

soapystar

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 10:18 am on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

if you look at what the big brands are doing in the money term sectors it has little to do with any guidelines and plenty to do with sophisticated spamming. The nature of the algo makes it far easier for a big brand to get away with stuff a small site could not.

thecityofgold2005

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 10:22 am on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

If Google keeps asking for, and taking seriously,spam reports, then any SEO who doesn't follow Google's guidelines will soon get those pages removed.

In any competitive field with many companies competing for keywords, there are bound to be people looking very closely at competitors sites for the prupose of getting them penalised by Google.

This sort of self-regulation is what has/will kill black hat SEO for all money phrases.

Very clever by Google if you ask me.

adamovic

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 11:43 am on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you have good article on your site you might try with digg and slashdot to get traffic to the article.

F_Rose

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 12:23 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

" you might try with digg and slashdot "

Please explain..

oddsod

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 1:29 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

My suggestions

1. Ignore search engines and - cliche warning - build for your visitors.
2. If you can't ignore all SEs at least ignore Google
2. If you can't ignore Google ... read their Webmaster Guidelines and ignore those instead

Google follows three rules

1. Take care of Google
2. Take care of Google
3. Take care of Google

Those rules translate to us as

1. They will do whatever they want with the algo (it's their search engine and neither you nor I should have a problem with it)
2. They provide some guidelines but make no promise to reward you for compliance.
3. Similarly, and more importantly, they make no promise to penalise you for violations. If the risks of getting caught are low then you may benefit more from violating guidelines than following them as many scrapers etc have discovered over the years.
4. If they do penalise you remember that they aren't a court of law and run a completely arbitary system - if you are BMW your penalty may last a few hours after admission of guilt and taking "corrective" action. Anyone else may find they are out of the index for years and years.
5. They consider themselves under "attack" from "unscroupulous" webmasters and therefore may feel it justified to spread false information. This could take a direct form of a "guidance" from a Google employee (I'm not saying they've already done it - just that they could have and may have) and it could take the form of registering lots of red herring patents in addition to the ones they intend to use.
6. They may change the ground rules at any time. They may follow the guidelines themselves or ignore them completely. Or bait you to add a nofollow just so they have a clear marker as to which sites are definitely SEO-ed.
7. As an entity that always acts in its own interest - rather than in your interest, the interests of the world, the net, or some other ideal - it needs to be always treated with a degree of caution and, perhaps, suspicion. Bear in mind that Google's goals are not the same as yours and are, in fact, largely in conflict with yours.
8. So just follow common sense, ignore Google rules, and you'll likely have just as good a chance of getting lots of Google traffic as those who spend their entire waking lives trying to SEO polish a piece of turd.

Why do I have a feeling that the flames are going to start? :)

[edited by: oddsod at 1:40 pm (utc) on May 31, 2006]

dangerman

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 1:40 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

digg and slashdot are tech news sites, obviously only useful in this context for webmasters of tech-related sites.

Agree with sentiment that content is no longer king from google's point of view, except indirectly i.e. if you have good content you are supposedly more likely to have quality incoming links and it is the latter they are looking at. Though judging by the spam at the top of results in my sector, there are some big fuses blowing in the plex.

Sites over 3 years old seem to be somewhat immune to the prevailing ill winds.

Whoever just said keep your old sites white hat; get down and dirty with new sites: very good! Never thought it would come to that.
What is the point thrashing yourself to death going over and over the Google guidelines, yet getting nowhere? Only the very lucky get any real feedback from G Search (ie not automated replies).

If G are also rewarding all the spammy sites above you, why not indeed play this game on their level and register different domains on different servers using all your cousins' names and addresses as registrants, stuff 'em all full of keywords, hidden text, create a link brothel etc. Not that I have done that yet, but alas the time is drawing nearer...

stakaman

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 1:41 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google is making it increasingly impossible to adhere to the guidelines. Everything is spam. If you strictly follow the guidelines and their staff 'tips' you don't stand a chance.

You can write all the quality content you want but if you don't have links pointing to it forget about it.

Ok, lets say you decide to do the right thing and don't buy, exchange or ask for links from anyone. Be prepared to wait for a few hundred years.

I am not saying go black-hat or become a spammer. All I am saying is: Google be realistic...we are not in uni anymore.

stakaman

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 1:45 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

not to mention that if you do well in the serps, lots of people will link to you, even if you have a crap site with little content, bad design and impossible navigation.

How do you explain that?

bsterz

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 2:18 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Rule #1: Avoid anthropomorphizing Google (or any other system for that matter).

"Google doesn't like", "Google doesn't care", "Google feels", etc.

Google is a system, and as such you have to approach it from a systematic angle.

You have two possible organic approaches:

1) Build the site for visitors and provide suitable linkbait. This is VERY HARD but the rewards are out there in time.

2) Synthesize a site that APPEARS to have age, trust, mind-share, and to have been built for visitors. This means buying/renting/begging/trading links, buying content, focusing on aged domains, etc. This comes at a cost as well, but is often quicker, but more volatile.

I had a client that refused to get into the link game standing on the principle that if Google didn't pick up his site for the appropriate terms, then it was G's fault and he would live with it. He did all of the "search engine friendly" stuff, but left the synthesizing out of the mix. He had a full-time guy who focused on forums, copy, contests, news, etc. - stuff visitors in his niche love - His site is now in the top 5 for a couple of highly lucrative 1-word phrases. His site IS awesome and people just want to link to it and share it with others. I would mention that it took two years for this to happen and the site was 7 years old then.

He didn't CARE what Google "liked" or "didn't like". He built a killer site and just white-knuckled it until the rewards started coming in.

On a related note, I have customers constantly telling me that the read this or that about G's latest algo, and honestly I find it hard to care. G is ONE piece of a very big complicated process. If I DO chase a "flavor of the month" it would be to exploit a new feature like base or co-op.

All of this is easier said than done, I know.

b

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 2:23 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Nice post bsterz!

I would mention that it took two years for this to happen and the site was 7 years old then.

These days the time factor is one of the most important aspects. Along with content of course. ;)

oddsod

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 2:36 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

"Google doesn't like", "Google doesn't care", "Google feels", etc.

Google is a system, and as such you have to approach it from a systematic angle.

Actually, and just to be pedantic, Google is a company that is behind the system. :) But on a more serious note, I don't believe it's wise to dismiss it as merely a system. It's a system with a lot of people behind it. And people can still play trickier games than the systems can.

He didn't CARE what Google "liked" or "didn't like".

Good approach.

In a way that's succumbing to what Google has always wanted: people spending their efforts other than on attempting to do better in Google. And Google may need that diversion of webmaster interest to play catch up (after pretty much losing the deciding-SERPS-based-on-IBLs game).

But, unless you have enormous resources, or are willing to play churn and burn type tactics, you're probably better off ignoring the beast as I suggested in my previous post. Ignore the beast and, more importantly, recognise that its utterances could be PR spin. "Go build links" may not be the magic remedy it used to be especially now that the link baby Google created has grown into an uncontrollable monster.

jdhuk

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 2:45 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Ok, lets say you decide to do the right thing and don't buy, exchange or ask for links from anyone. Be prepared to wait for a few hundred years.

And that's about the truth of it for most of us.

For those who think that quality content alone will attract masses of inbound links naturally in any reasonable amount of time live in cuckoo land.

bsterz

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 2:53 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Ok, lets say you decide to do the right thing and don't buy, exchange or ask for links from anyone. Be prepared to wait for a few hundred years.

It's not the right thing or wrong thing, it's just a thing. I think sometimes webmasters expect to be rewarded for "doing the right thing". The only right thing is to have a plan and a budget and an expectation and measure and tweak until it happens.

b

dangerman

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 2:54 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

jdhuk, you got it.

Why ignore Google when it accounts for 50% of the SE market in the US, 80% in the UK?

To get your new sites ranked with Google (not so for MSN, Yahoo), you now need to work on the very edge of 'traditional' SEO boundaries.

bsterz

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 2:58 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't believe it's wise to dismiss it as merely a system

That's just it tho - the people are PART of the system. So are the webmasters, the searchers, and finally, the code that runs it all. The reason I say to look at it as a system is, for example, if you chase algos and do "clever seo" then there is still a risk that the people-part of the system could nail you with a hand-ban. Conversely, if you do something careless, and need reinclusion, again - a person gets involved and sometimes helps out. You have to view the WHOLE system when looking at Google, not just the algos, or people or whatever..

b

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 3:00 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

To get your new sites ranked with Google (not so for MSN, Yahoo), you now need to work on the very edge of 'traditional' SEO boundaries.

Not really. We'd have to define what traditional SEO is first. This is not just about SEO, that is one part of the equation. This is about all the various marketing opportunities you have available to you for promoting your site.

Google's Guidelines are just one of many documents available to Webmasters to assist in determining what a quality web page should be. How those guidelines are interpreted is the deciding factor.

On a personal note, for those of you chasing the algos day in and day out, you're going to trim a few years off your total life expectancy. Focusing too much on one area such as links is going to cause you more grief than it's worth, really.

dangerman

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 3:21 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Not really. We'd have to define what traditional SEO is first. This is not just about SEO, that is one part of the equation. This is about all the various marketing opportunities you have available to you for promoting your site.

Ranking in Google surely IS about SEO, and this factor of the equation is what we are discussing, right? I am quite aware of the other marketing channels available, but that is not the problem at hand.

catch2948

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 4:09 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)


To get your new sites ranked with Google (not so for MSN, Yahoo), you now need to work on the very edge of 'traditional' SEO boundaries.

edge of traditional SEO boundaries? It would be more appropriate to say going out & out black hat, or at least that is what many companies are doing.

I guess I can no longer consider myself a professional webmaster to be honest. As of yesterday, I am down to 2 clients. Everyone else who has fallen victim to to Google's issues has opted to go with black hatters, rather than continue with traditional optimization. I have spent a great deal of time, in trying to extole the virtues & benefits of patience, and "riding out the storm".

From the first day I joined WW forums, I have received nothing but the finest advice and instruction in the proper methods of web authoring. I have always done my very best to maintain the highest standards for my clients. However, a little over 3 weeks ago, I lost my first client. I tried very hard, and even offered incentives for this company to stay, but it didn't work out. Late yesterday, I received an email from this former client. The following is an excerpt from that email:
<removed>

THAT HURT!

I have reviewed their website since I was fired, and it is very easy to see the spamming techniques now being utilized. They are correct in that their rankings started improving almost immediately after the new SEO started adding hidden text, keyword spam, etc. Personally, I always felt that this former client offered a very good line of products and services, at very fair prices. So, in a matter of speaking, I am happy that they are now making up for some of what they have lost over the earlier part of this year.

But as someone who operated a legitimate business, and always tried follow the rules, I am more than upset that I have to work another job now to make ends meet.

[edited by: jatar_k at 5:28 pm (utc) on May 31, 2006]
[edit reason] no email excerpts as per TOS [/edit]

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 4:47 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

While we do not wish to seem harsh, the fact is that in the last three weeks, we have seen our online revenue increase almost seven fold.

Personally, I'd have to question that. A seven fold increase in online revenue in three weeks? Just from adding hidden text and keyword stuffing?

By what you always stressed, some of the methods used by our new SEO Specialist do appear to be 'not the norm'. However, he is delivering greatly increased revenue at a time when it is most critical to us.

Again, I'd look beyond the hidden text and keyword stuffing. There's more to it than just that.

THAT HURT!

Yup, that would surely be a blow to one's ego. :(

I have reviewed their website since I was fired, and it is very easy to see the spamming techniques now being utilized. They are correct in that their rankings started improving almost immediately after the new SEO started adding hidden text, keyword spam, etc.

So, they added some hidden text and increased the density of phrases on the page? Did they do this across all pages?

Please define keyword spam. I have my interpretation of that and I'd like to see what yours is. To make changes like that and then within three weeks have a seven fold increase in revenue just doesn't jive with me.

If the client is willing to risk their online presence by utilizing the techniques you've outlined above, that is their choice and probably not the type of client you want to rely on for income. There are more ways to skin a cat outside of amateur SEO using hidden text and keyword spam. Are you sure that is all they did?

arubicus

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 4:50 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Report them for spamming. When they get dumped they will see that they sacrificed both their intgrity and bottom line.

"If the client is willing to risk their online presence by utilizing the techniques you've outlined above, that is their choice and probably not the type of client you want to rely on for income. There are more ways to skin a cat outside of amateur SEO using hidden text and keyword spam. Are you sure that is all they did?"

Very well said. If a client would sacrifice integrity for cash...that isn't a client I would want.

I can see a 7 fold increase since it is stating a percentage. If a site were making 1,000 per day a 7 fold increase is not all that much. But if a site were making 100,000 per day (depending on how many visitors are required to make that) it seems less possible in that amount of time.

[edited by: arubicus at 4:53 pm (utc) on May 31, 2006]

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 4:51 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Report them for spamming. When they get dumped they will see that they sacrificed both their intgrity and bottom line.

And that's exactly what your ex-client will be faced with. The competition is fierce these days and sure enough, there is someone, somewhere, just waiting to fill out that spam report at Google and the other search engines. How soon they act on it is another issue.

ken_b

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ken_b us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 5:06 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

To make changes like that and then within three weeks have a seven fold increase in revenue just doesn't jive with me.

If we are talking about changes made to previously exisiting pages that might not be so out of line. If we were talking about newly created pages and/or a new site, that could be different of course.

But big changes could happen quickly with modified older pages. How long those changes might work as hoped is open to question of course, I wouldn't make any long term plans based on short term results.

toothake

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 5:40 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

""Report them for spamming....The competition is fierce these days.."
A search engine alone even if that is Google can not detect spam automaticly and that is one of the main targets of Big Daddy IMO .Does Google wants to fight spam now using webmasters that lost thousands of great white pages from Google's index.Who is the webmaster/in that will not fill a spam report when he/she sees his/hers position has been taken from a spamer ;).
Big Daddy was the most clever move Google ever did to fight spam .I spend more then 2 hours daily checking pages up to page 3 of the serps for main keywords and checking thoroughly every page(<noframes> ,<noscript> ,background (it can be a background picture ie widget.gif but that .gif is just a gif coloured 000080 and your hidden text is 000080 ,how an algo will discover this,without human help) ,keyword stuffing in body or on Alt tags...)
I report daily 5-10 scamers what about you guys.

catch2948

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 9:03 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

The main things I have seen were keyword stuffing in description, hidden keyword text spam, as well as blog comment spam links that are starting to show up.

BTW ... A perfect example of what I am talking about (just posted on Craigslist):

Get us on PAGE ONE of Google!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reply to: <<removed>>
Date: 2006-05-31, 4:20PM EDT

ARE YOU:
responsible for moving your client/employer from page 999 on Google to a location above the fold on the first page in natural search? In very busy keyword areas?
responsible for expanding SEO capabilities and revenue opportunities aggressively?
someone who obsesses about search engines? Dreams about natural search results?

AND ALSO:
experienced and methodical with LAMP development (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP)
Passionate and diligent about LEGITIMATE Search Engine Optimization
Knowledgeable of Paid Search (Google AdWords, Overture/Yahoo Search Marketing, MSN, etc.)
Able to hand-code CSS/XHTML/JavaScript
self-motivated, energetic and flexible?

If you have a proven track record of success in these areas then you need to contact us immediately and show us what you have done!

We are a leading edge financial services company.

JoaoJose

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 9:30 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

There are so many legitimate ways of getting traffic, getting noticed and ultimatly getting links. Why risk it all with keyword stuffing, hidden links and so on...?

I've just been reporting a very spammy network of sites but I will only this on my niche because it hurts me directly. The regular Google user doesn't even know what spam is.

Google is the one that should be all over the place fighting spam if they want to keep the number one spot.

reseller

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 10:13 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Good evening Folks

I wouldn't consider hidden text , sneaky redirects and "traditional" keywords stuffing part of the emerging Sophisticated SEO Methods which I mentioned in a previous post.

When a SEO firm hire software engineers, I expected those bright engineers to do serious analysis work. For example analyzing filters and algos etc...

And I wouldn't be surprised if those engineers have already their mini-Google laboratory models in place.

I guess what I wish to say is, we are talking about intelligent SEO solutions. Not traditional spam.

idolw

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 10:52 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

guys, what is the chat about?
we are all spammers in google's eyes.
we want our sites be at the top i.e. manipulate their search results.

no need to look at google. just do your job as a spammer and do not waste time trying to cheat yourself and everyone around saying we are "webmasters, which means good guys".

the more we whine about SERPs the happier MC & Co. are. no matter what they say and blog.

annej

WebmasterWorld Senior Member annej us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 3:45 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

*I feel that Google doesn't care much about the dropped innocent sites.*
While such an animal no doubt exists, I've yet to see one ;-)

I learned during Bourbon that innocent sites can indeed be hurt by Google. In that case Google Guy came in and actively worked on getting the problem corrected.

Isn't MC talking as if they are trying to do something about all the dropped pages?

It would be best for Google to have good search results so I do think they want to repair these things. But I think it's going out of control. Each change to catch spammy sites catches good useful sites as well.

soapystar

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 9:13 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

There seems a clear line now of where you need to be. You can build a content site with unique well constructed information and reach decent serps in 2-4 years. On the other hand you can have a spammer flick a few switches and give you 1000's of one way inbounds to internal pages from low quality pages, urls or own network sites and get instant results. Im surprised at just how well this basic spamming works and sticks after working. I see major brands are now using this method from made-for-the-purpose subdomains and doing better and better by the week.

martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 34552 posted 9:41 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

The point is, however good the content is if nobody sees it nobody will link.

It doesn't have to be that way. The guidelines used to say (or at least I think they did) that you should tell other webmasters about your site. It doesn't say that anymore, but it's a good strategy.

The funny thing about telling webmasters about your site is that High Quality sites aren't necessarily looking for recips, they only do one-way links. The other funny thing is that any site that cares about your PR is likely in a crappy neighborhood so don't cry about them. The best sites are run by people who have no clue about SEO, imo.

I have a site with content written in a "stream of consciousness" style (like, I wrote each page about a topic I know nothing about in about half an hour each) that received quite a bit of 1-way HQ links. If I can do that with content that is this shaky, someone with real content in this niche should have better success- and indeed they do.

[edited by: martinibuster at 9:54 am (utc) on June 1, 2006]

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