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Recently however, being upfront about how SEO works has caused some friction between myself and a few of my clients. Anyone that spends any amount of time at WebmasterWorld knows that GoogleGuy encourages people to send spam reports, typically with added advice about mentioning WebmasterWorld and a WebmasterWorld screenname. Recently, some of my clients have been pressuring me to send in some spam reports but that's just the beginning of the issue.
After much badgering from a client I did send in a report. To date no action has been taken, no response received and my client is sending me email every other day wondering why nothing is happening. It's not that he doesn't believe me when I respond that this takes time, it's that the link farm, hidden links, tiny text, etc, were so obvious that he's a bit sceptical that Google has any procedures in place to deal with blatant violations of their stated TOS.
I informed him from the start that we could overcome most of the domain farm, link farm, hidden text tactics and in truth, we have, but the cost of overcoming what is a clear violation of Google's own TOS has been passed to him. While we have several #1 positions and hundreds of 1-5 spots the core phrases are controlled by a network of sites that violate Google's TOS.
Now to the crux of the problem. He wants to emulate the tactics of the folks that are currently enjoying success using what Google deems to be inappropriate methods if you will. We could fire up another domain or 200 and use exactly the same tactics they use, with what appears to be minimal risk.
My responsibility is to my client. His take is that Google's advice to, "play by the rules Grasshopper and everything will be fine" is BS. He's right. As long as techniques that violate Google's TOS work all the lip service about reporting spam is exactly that, lip service.
I've already mentioned "long term viability" but that argument is a bit shallow, this particular network has been in place for more than a year and quite possibly much longer.
The issue goes quite a bit deeper than just one client. As long as SEOs have to work around beating those people that employ techniques that violate Google's TOS the cost of optimizing those sites that play by the rules will be higher. In essence, Google rewards sites that violate the rules and inadvertently punishes those sites that strive to follow them.
The issue runs deeper than one SEO and his clientele, every SEO out there knows that it costs more to beat a network of domain farms that it does to optimize for phrases that don't face that opposition. Are your clients paying more because Google can't seem to weed out the folks that won't play by the rules?
I see you're new to this forum, AllEyes, so allow me to welcome you to the community.
I understand your frustrations with how the search engines operate, as many of us are, but please don't bash the forum members. We're very fortunate that Googleguy provides a meaningful voice here even if we don't all like what is said.
Please participate here, but be constructive in your criticisms of what other members say.
2.some of the content of this threat astonishes me:
I thimk and act along the following lines:
- No Google's = No revenue
- SEO = marketeer of the Internet
- "old" marketing - you could play dirty / if you got away with it / so what has changed?
- the old marketing rule = 50% works 50% doesn't - is no longer valid!
- SEO/SEM spending = direct results on the bottom line
(if not / next SEO please)
- competition = fun
So, what's the verdict? I started a tangent off this thread and most seem to be of the opinion that you just stick up good content and let Google do it's job.
Google won't change if they haven't already. They have no need to.
Domains are just over $8 a pop now. Hosting $10/mo. for a basic site.
If the client would be willing to pay for a few versions of thier website...
As soon as the site is kicked out of the index you let the bot crawl the new site with new domain. Using the profits (that's why he wants to get to the top) he made while being near the top he can go PPC for a month or so until that new site gets to the top.
As long as the top is filled with people cheating and Google has done nothing about it, it's business.
Of course, all Google would need to do is be more active in banning naughty sites.
From your post it's clear they aren't enforcing their own TOS in a consistent manner.
So, after all this chat what will you do?
Even one index cycle at the top in the "natural ranks" would equal how many months of AdWords and Overture traffic?
Wow. I don't like the way free Google works so I pay for my listings with Google. You can do the same; you can't get something for free and complain that you are losing money ("enormous loss of revenue")
If you make money from your site you will find that advertising with Google works and overall is less expensive then the "free" listings. I find the "free" listings on Google to be very expensive and if you don't play the Google game (spam, linking and whatever) you will never be found on Google. If you play the Google game then you need to employ an army to spam, link, domains and more. I am talking about the real keywords. The keyword that generate real money. Some keywords on the first page worth $1000's a day and to SEO those keywords is very hard maybe inpossible..maybe
I tried to reply earlier but I kept getting the screeching 404 phantom. :)
I didn't start the thread with one client in mind, it was more of a general "TOS violations drive up the cost of SEO". statement. I used a single client as an example.
In this particular case however it would seem to be against the client's best interest to "join the competition" and employ the same techniques after filing a lengthy complaint detailing those techniques. ;)
For me personally, I'll continue to increase the cost of optimizing sites that must compete with domain farms or use other techniques that violate the TOS.
My original point was that sites that violate Google's TOS drive up the cost of SEO. That's still the point. Not only does the cost go up, when people see that those techniques still work people will continue to employ them, thus feeding into the cycle.
This was never about a client wanting a free ride, or a client that assumes traffic should be free or that a business should be built around Google as a sole traffic provider. This was about a client that expressed the concern that Google can't effectively enforce their own TOS yet wants people to abide by that TOS. Can you see the bit of irony there? ;)