Google … Relevant or Arrogant

I’ve been reading a lot of early analysis of Google’s recent update, and speculation about what people think you need to rank highly in search engines now. I was also reading Is Google Responsible for Ruining the Internet over at threadwatch. SlyOldDog brings up some good points

First they spouted the content mantra. Webmasters diligenlty pumed out millions of pages to satisfy the hungry cralwers.
Then they started the anchor text numbers game. People then went out and built millions of sites especially to promote their other pages.
Now we have adsense. Pages are now being made from crap especially to make as many adsense impressions as possible.
Add to that buying pagerank, blog and guestbook spamming (all due to Google’s algorythms)

As the algorithms becomes more and more complicated the factors needed rank become increasingly harder to acquire. The days of the lone-gun hand crafted SEO sites are numbered. Sure some will survive, but to do so in a big way you’re going to need more complex tools and automation. So before where you may have been able to get away with ranking on reciprocal links and a handful of one-way inbounds. Nowadays you’re going a massive inbound link network, and if some of speculation about the most recent update is true, synonyms going to be big.

I can’t help but be nostalgic for the days when the relationship between Google and the webmaster/SEO/SEM community was less antagonistic. It used to be a love/hate relationship whereas now I see it becoming one of pure antipathy on both sides. As Google attempts to combat spam the collateral damage is increasing. It’s not just SEO spam that get caught anymore , it’s real businesses and organization’s. For example search for “Breast Cancer Foundation of Arizona” now try this search. Notice how the “Breast Cancer Foundation of Arizona” was in the second search and not the first? The second search bypasses a Google spam filter. Now lets be honest, the Breast Cancer Foundation should be the first in the list, period. However they unknowingly got penalized, and are collateral damage.

If you’re an SEO you’ll have to realize at some point you’ll trip up a filter, lose rankings or even get banned. If you don’t you’re either really good, or not trying hard enough. It’s just something that happens. So you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and learn from your mistakes. And for heavens sake don’t whine about it!

But what about that foundation and other business like them? Is it good to have a ranking algo that’s so sensitive to spam, it’s actually preventing people from getting the most relevant results? Those searches work just fine at Yahoo (search), and MSN (search). Sure eliminating search engine spam is a good intention, but as they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. So is Google so hell bent on corporate glory that they have become General Custer looking for little big horn? Are they slowly killing their own relevancy, the very thing that made them so popular in the first place?

I’m not going to go out proclaim Google’s early death, and I’m not going to ban Google’s spider from my sites anytime soon. I will also confess Google is a major factor in my income right now. But I will also tell you I’ve been using MSN and Yahoo more frequently, and am not disappointed by the lack of quality results. So will the average consumer continue in ignorant bliss with Google’s draconian approach to spam control? Maybe, you tell me? Power is a funny thing, the very people who give it to you, can just as easily give it to someone else, when they feel they are being lied to or decieved. Be careful Google or the people you piss off on the way up, may be the same ones you pass on the way down.

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