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So when I talk about Google I always make the comparision with a sound recording studio.
Imagine: at the end of the month GG enters the sound mixing room, you know the room with the big table full of little buttons and sliders.
The current song is the current algo. GG turns on the "title" button, raising it's importance. Then he lowers the "incomming links" button and so on... Once GG decided that all is right he pushes the big red button and waits...
In the other room you will see a bunch of people all listening carefully to the speakers. And shhhht... yes! we do hear a new sound. Frantic movement within the SEO community... How are the results on the new algo, how does the new song sounds? How is the relevancy?
(And sometimes GG is a bit strong and turns a button to much: eg the dramatic drop incomming links in the November update :))
And Google need us: because (ethical) SEO's make relevant websites, not the editors of DMOZ, not the Googlebot. They won't check the 'Googleisme' of a website.
Just pick a DMOZ directory, check the high PR sites and look for the Google-readiness of these sites... Many of those sites really could use a good SEO...
Drop all connections between Google and the SEO/Webmaster world and they wouldn't be the big player they are now. They would be big but not as big as now.
Drop forums like this one and Google wouldn't get the free feedback about there product...
Google's new SEO page prooves they take us into account. They just want to make a difference between the Good and the Ugly...
The SEO community is one big pool of free feedback resources. The SEO world is Google's best product testing team. So I'm sure there's some love in the air...
So this is maybe a message for the website owners, not the designers or webmasters:
The question is not if a professional site needs to be Google friendly.
But if your SEO says that Google is the most important when optimalizing a website... well he's wrong. IMHO the internet user is the most important. Then all results will be right: a 'findable' website, a 'readable / content rich' website, an 'effective' website...
So is the love - hate relationship just a matter of ethics?
Sorry for my bad english... just had a writing urge :) (My left finger is hesitating if I should post this one... :))
People with bad rankings hate google and say it is full of spam.
People with good rankings love google and say they are the best engine out there.
Google doesn't (IMHO) dislike SEOs. They of course dislike things that make their job harder, but google seems to look at it as THEIR PROBLEM. Google has a good attitude and doesn't blame SEOs for bad SERPs. They are about the only major engine that does this.
Google became a popular engine in part due to the webmaster community, but even if google declared war on SEOs - they'd still be used more often than any other.
Google chooses to work with webmasters so that most everyone can benefit. Is this cause google is nice? Well maybe, but it is also good business. Just as walmart could "save" money by firing their greeters. I think they wouldn't "save" money. It is possible to be nice and make a profit at the same time.
I don't think google "needs" SEOs. They just are a little better off than alienating them - as they don't have to. One of the basic premises of google is that good sites will be linked to by other good sites. This is true. This is why people use google. If someone makes a bad site without content and the like - most likely it won't get linked to very much.
While it is nice to think that legions of SEOs are out there turning bad sites into stellar sites - it just doesn't work that way. Sure you have exceptions here and there - but in general - SEOs aren't hired for this.