Does Google See SEOs as Criminals?

Jun 10, 2009 • 8:22 am | comments (2) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Industry News

The Nofollow PageRank sculpting topic was not the only heated debate at last week's SMX Advanced conference. We have some SEOs claiming Google sees all SEOs as criminals before being innocent.

Michael Gray's How Google Profiles SEO’s and Lisa Barone's Google Openly Profiles SEOs As Criminals are both well written pieces arguing that Google doesn't treat SEOs equally to all personalities on the internet. Let me quote one section to sum it up, but honestly, you should read both pieces in their entirety.

How does this show that Google is profiling SEO’s and not the rest of the blogging world? How else can you explain high profile A-List bloggers like Robert Scoble and Sarah Lacy accepting free all expense paid trips to Isreal and not getting penalized? How can Guy Kawasaki get “loaned” one, two, three cars in three years and still be within Google’s guidelines . How can “lending” Guy Kawasaki an Audi Q7 for three months in exchange for him blogging about it be OK but I can’t connect bloggers with people who want to give away a pair of sunglasses? Matt Cutt’s says “The closer you get to money for links, the higher risk we consider it”. Go to any rental car agency ask how much it is to rent an Audi Q7 for three months, you’ll have your answer how close it is to the money.

On the other hand, Susan Esparza takes the opposite view in her piece named I Don't Like Conflict (But Google Doesn't Think SEOs are Criminals). Susan explains that SEO are rightly held to a higher standard, because SEOs are search professionals.

I totally see both sides of the argument. I thought I conduct an anonymous poll asking our readers if they think Google see SEOs as criminals or not. Here is the poll, please have your friends take the poll:

Forum discussion at Sphinn (Lisa), Sphinn (Michael) and Sphinn (Susan).

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06/10/2009 01:36 pm

To be honest the whole thing is plain odd. When I came across the latest drama yesterday I was immediately hit by the fact that SEOs ever thought they were somehow in the good books? With all of Matt's good work in the webmaster out-reach program aside, by and large those that seek to influence/manipulate the index aren't well thought of in the IR community. The relationship we have is tenuous at best. But when I see things like, 'Google' and 'Criminal' being used, it sounds a bit grandiose to me. We are considered to be 'adversaries' not criminals.... the wording is a tad overboard IMO. Furthermore we most certainly aren't being 'targeted' as most every query space worth being in have more than a few top 20 listings containing sites with a 'SEO footprint'... kinda blows that one huh? Anyway, it just seems odd that SEOs had thought they were in the good books or directly targeted as a group. They both seem misguided. Are they targeting individuals? I'm sure we'll never know...

Michael Martinez

06/10/2009 09:17 pm

Actually, Dave, Matt Cutts tacitly admitted to profiling several years ago at a PubCon or SMX conference (I forget which but the anecdote should be familiar to most longtime readers of this site). Someone in the audience asked why his Web site wasn't ranking. Matt did one of his famous "magic lookups" and apparently connected the Web site to many others that were very spammy. Matt made the point that if you create 200 spammy sites, Google is more likely to take a closer look at your 201st site. That's the essence of profiling.

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