Oy Vey: How Google Crippled SEO Companies By One "SEO Expert"

Feb 12, 2014 • 8:19 am | comments (75) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Face SplatterI was almost floored reading a post at High Rankings Forum from an "SEO expert" who explained how Google has crippled SEO companies and is driving them into "the dreaded adwords."

Besides for all the grammar issues, it is amazing that (1) an SEO can blame Google for trying to make their algorithm detect SEO tactics that are low quality and (2) an SEO can call these professional SEO tactics.

Here are the "SEO companies tactics" that Google killed and destroyed and crippled SEO companies by reversing. I will quote:

1 - Guest Posting, dont do it
2 - Directory Submissions, dont do it
3 - Article Directories - Dont do it
4 - Forum posting - No relevance or juice passed (dont do it)
5 - Forum Signatures - dont do it
6 - Forum Profiles - dont do it
7 - blog commenting - dont do it
8 - Larger more popular sites dont automatically rank better - Cough bullshit - Asda, Tesco, Amazon, John Lewis just to name a few
9 - Link wheeling - dont do it
10 - Dont buy Links
11 - Dont allow dofollow links in image adverts (banners etc)
12- Create good content. - might work great for very localised search terms but doesnt help in the slightest for national searches

This saddens me. It really does.

Forum discussion at High Rankings Forum.

Previous story: Google Polling Searchers On Usefulness Of Longer Answers


Alexander Hemedinger

02/12/2014 02:13 pm

Hey Barry would you disagree with anything quoted?


02/12/2014 02:17 pm

SEO Business is a Fragile system ... as it depends on Google ...who just want adwords .. nothing else in market ..

Alexander Hemedinger

02/12/2014 02:18 pm

I could agree with that. I mean what business doesn't use adwords as a source of creating brand or leads etc.... Don't say non profit, they still get 10k in free adwords spend. =)

Daniel Sherf

02/12/2014 02:23 pm

The thing with google is that they are giving us a platform to work on, and rules: What's right / What's wrong To understand this questions you need to understand something else: "What is "Google" and who are they giving these rules to?" Google is a business place, and they giving these rules to other business places. Now the question is: "What is business place?" Business place is a place that want and need to make money. Otherwise it's a charity place. It is known that a lot of businesses places in the world are bulshiting other business places or their costumers. Or just telling not all the truth. (Sound familiar to some business place?) And this is why it is so important to make tests, and explore them to every one. And then test them again. Let me explain: Tests - You take one of these tactics or signals and see how it is impact. Explore - You write down and explore it to every one the test, and your conclusions. Now, when other man (or woman) see a mistake in your test, he will tell you that you are wrong and why. When you see your mistakes (because other man pointed to that mistake), you will need to make another test until you will see what was right and what was wrong, and only by that you will know the real and pure answer to Google's rules.


02/12/2014 02:58 pm

I'm sure the "SEO is alive and well crowd" will disagree with me, but the fact remains that clients spending money with SEO companies is lost Adwords revenue. The more Google can cut SEOs out of the equation, the more money there will be left over for Google. SEO is definitely not dead, but is dying a slow death. What could revive the SEO industry is if Bing, Yahoo and/or other search engines became more widely used. But as long as Google controls 68% of the search market, don't expect them to employ policies that will make them less money or loosen their stranglehold over ecommerce.

Durant Imboden

02/12/2014 03:12 pm

Remember the phrase "survival of the fittest." At some point, the dinosaurs need to die out.


02/12/2014 03:22 pm

SEO is alive, just tactics have evolved. If a potential client understands a single piece of great coverage is better than 20 spammy articles then great - but from our experience they tend to think they're getting better value for money from the cheaper spammy agency selling links in bulk despite being warned of the dangers. Creating and marketing a truly great idea also requires more time/effort and success is not always guaranteed, and this means a greater entry barrier for clients with smaller budgets.


02/12/2014 03:22 pm

Durant if that's your photo id say u must have been alive when the dinosaurs were about! SEO is dead its just called marketing now, plain old online marketing!


02/12/2014 03:24 pm

What the hell if you we do not these thing then what we do ? Google want us to use adwords but to be straight forward we have our own way to do things.

Durant Imboden

02/12/2014 03:38 pm

The self-styled "SEO expert" probably wouldn't agree. (Then again, he's probably been too busy sulking in Jurassic Park to notice.)


02/12/2014 03:46 pm

SEO is a black mark during the last three years at least (probably even five). Those, who still don't understand this are simply brainwashed.


02/12/2014 04:23 pm

"Oh no, we can't spam and now might have to rely on the ability to generate traffic through non-Google referrals, marketing campaigns, and direct traffic so the site can begin to rank better on Google. Oh no, this industry is dead!" More whining from the crowd that is sad to see their easy money machine get taken away. Sorry folks, all those spam tactics were destroying Google's SERPs, of course they took action against it. And no, you don't need to be a huge company to achieve, but not every site gets to achieve now that the web is changing and all the big players are taking it seriously. The SERPs are more relevant and useful now. The problem areas can still be dominated by the same people they always were: People running lots of turn-and-burns with their own churn and burn link networks with plenty more waiting in the wings...Those people aren't taking on small clients because they are generating revenue for themselves, not taking money from someone and spamming the corresponding URL. Sorry guys, marketing is continually evolving. It's time for marketers to run this industry and not guys sending out fiver requests and spamming the web with bots. Unpopular opinion? Sure is. Reality? Yep. Accepting the reality of the situation is the only thing you can do to get ahead. Insisting that Google is ruining things is getting really old, really fast. Do any of you actually remember how awful the SERPs were previously? How full of doorway and thin and irrelevant content it was? No, the ones complaining cry about irrelevant SERPs while ignoring the huge problem of irrelevancy they were happy to cause when it meant money in their pockets. Hang around the webmaster Google group. Full of complaints about how awful Google is (parrots parroting other disgruntled parrots)...when one of them actually throws a URL up...wow. Rarely is there an actual issue with Google. Rarely is the quality of the SERPs diminished by pushing those sites off the first page. "Google is killing small business with Penguin and Panda". No, you killed small business sites with Penguin and Panda by willfully breaking the guidelines and acting surprised when they started to actually do something about it. Cue the name calling.


02/12/2014 05:02 pm

The tactics being banned are used to "game the system" and cheat the way to the top. Google is above all, first and foremost going to help drive relevant information to their users. Their job is to make sure that those of us gaming their way to the top of the pile can't do that. If you rely on those tactics and gimmicks for ranking then you've been doing it wrong all along. Our job is not to make our company's happy or even our clients happy. It's to make our clients' users happy. If you're not adding real value then you're not doing SEO properly.


02/12/2014 05:02 pm

Crippled SEO? Google made SEO viable in the first place. Don't whine at the wet-nurse for not spooning the food into your mouth faster.

Sean Hecking

02/12/2014 05:04 pm

I think the SEO companies that feel it the most are the ones going around selling $399 per month SEO packages to their clients. They offer 10 directory links per month, 5 blog comments per month, etc. Basically try to turn SEO into some kind of commodity business and offer little or no real value to the buyer. Yes, for companies that offer these cheap SEO packages, 2013 has been a rough year. in 2009, everyone knew buying links was bad but these companies did it anyway and are paying the price.


02/12/2014 05:04 pm

Happily surprised by all the upvoting I am doing on this comment section!


02/12/2014 05:10 pm

Completely accurate. Some services can't be scaled downward infinitely, SEO is one of them. At the lowest levels it's almost not worth it at all.


02/12/2014 05:12 pm

Makes a lot of sense. First; consider the audience. Also all this talk of "content is king" is BS unless the content has value-add. Content is a throne-bearer at best. Value-add (for readers, users and audiences) is the real king!

Durant Imboden

02/12/2014 05:18 pm

Some of them are still buying links, or trying to. (When I get such inquiries, I can't help wondering "Where have you people been?")


02/12/2014 05:23 pm

Thanks :)


02/12/2014 06:14 pm

Just use searchmetrics to see how the SEO companies website has faired in the rankings. If it got slammed by Panda or Penguin - then avoid at all costs, as they are "expert" at bad tactics.

Nathan Tucker

02/12/2014 06:22 pm

The level of misinformation surrounding the SEO space (especially the current "content is king" myth) just means less competition for those that know better - although it can be quite frustrating seeing people swallowing it up. The fact is that SEO remains a viable, high ROI marketing commodity for a wide array of businesses - small and large. There are still many highly effective, yet underused, update-proof white hat link building tactics such as getting links from libraries and universities. Those most vulnerable to updates are those using non-innovative, mainstream SEO tactics such as expired domain blog networks. The problem most SEOs seem to have is that they don't look beyond the next update. Google's algorithm still uses links to tell the importance of webpages, which is why they are more important than content. The key to long term SEO success is simply to keep one eye on the horizon. They will always need a way to sort the importance of websites, and it is your responsibility as an SEO to stay on top of this.


02/12/2014 06:43 pm

When you say 'getting links from libraries and universities' ...I assume those links are completely relevant to the site you are getting them linked to and not from forgotten pages deep in a university site that are unmonitored and accept links... ...right?

Nathan Tucker

02/12/2014 06:51 pm

Yes, definitely relevant. One of my favorite tactics is to find a high PR/PA resources page on a University site, for marketing majors for example, and then create a resources page on your site specifically for those students. Then, make a contact list of deans/advisors of relevant Unis and contact them one-by-one. With the way the SERPs are right now, site authority and relevance are even more important than PR/PA.


02/12/2014 06:53 pm

As long as it's relevant and useful, more power to you. I am lucky enough that my day job brings in tons of natural university links. MIT has been very good to us.


02/12/2014 06:55 pm

At the risk of stereotyping: Q: "Where have you people been?" A: India And yes, there are some great professionals in this industry in India, I am not saying there aren't. But where does most of the SEO spam originate...?

Nick Ker

02/12/2014 07:06 pm

You just saved me 5 minutes of writing another "you did it to yourselves" rant.

Nick Ker

02/12/2014 07:10 pm

I must confess, I did outsource one thing to India: http://youtu.be/iS4fR_I91Fs

Sean Hecking

02/12/2014 07:40 pm

The biggest challenge for outsource or offshore SEO is to communicate the nuances of English US. To make an emotional connection with content, its difficult enough for people living in the US, let alone people living in a different culture. Can the content connect with readers or is it just content for the sake of SEO, to please the engines?


02/12/2014 08:00 pm

Read WMW 2005 - 2010 and see "where does most of the SEO spam originate".


02/12/2014 09:02 pm

Mind = Blown


02/12/2014 09:21 pm

Nick Ker is so out of the customers, that had to promote himself on the streets of Indian town. At least he could outsource his promotion campaign to the local street artist. Good luck Nick with your new market )


02/12/2014 10:38 pm

so google still killing the small business, show us growing financial reports, but you & co still believe in google "fairly tales".

Nick Ker

02/12/2014 10:42 pm

No shortage of clients here. That video must have worked!

Ammon Johns

02/13/2014 01:34 am

While I hopefully understand that you are using extreme hyperbole to make a point, SEO was around for some years before Google even existed.

Jitendra Vaswani

02/13/2014 05:03 am

I agree with Nathan, SEO is not dead but needs to be used in correct methods. Underused techniques tactics should be used.

Jitendra Vaswani

02/13/2014 05:05 am

Agree with You.... SEO is not crippled , it is spammed by spammer


02/13/2014 07:29 am

Well I guess that's true. But here in the UK they have a collosal market share. To us it often seems like the industry wouldn't be around without big G (even if that's just a skewed viewpoint). I know a lot was happening before SEO, like IR (Information Retrieval). But yes it was just hyperbole!


02/13/2014 07:33 am

I think my point was moreso that most SEO now relies on Google. Without Google, would we still have jobs? Even if they did decide to cripple SEO; many of us (not all) adopted an "all our eggs in one basket" approach and it's really our own responsibility to survive - no one else will hand a livelihood to us.


02/13/2014 10:53 am

What he meant to say was the Google have ruined the 'Quick cash for no work' side of SEO, where scammers could just put your site into a link builder, watch you climb the ranks for a few weeks/months and run with your cash before Google caught up with you. Good SEO in general hasn't changed that much in the last 5 years really, the only thing that has changed is that Google have gotten better at catching those using the bad techniques. Its basically the equivalent of criminals complaining the Cops have got too good at catching them ;) But hey, its not all bad news for the scammers. They still have BING! ;)


02/13/2014 11:29 am

'Quick cash for no work'. Spot on. And good riddance to those crappy, written-by-amateurs, .info sites that got blown away.

Vaishnav Kumar

02/13/2014 11:38 am

Now What to do in SEO , Can any one explain ?

Vaishnav Kumar

02/13/2014 11:42 am

When all SEO activities will suggest not to perform than what will be the options for SEO to promote the website ?

Nitin Tyagi

02/13/2014 11:44 am

baba ji ka tulu...........

Vaishnav Kumar

02/13/2014 11:45 am

Ya sure my fnrd Now Google itself want alls SEO to do Baaba ji ka Thulu Nothing more to say about these updates ..........

Patti Paz

02/13/2014 12:32 pm

So, . . . . what happens to those unsuspecting websites that those 'has been' SEO experts RUINED with Google? All the while, they, the websites, thought they were in good hands, and operating in a white hat environment. Yea, the true victims are NOT the SEO guys, but the websites. What happens to them now? Oh, let me guess what you holier than thous will say, 'Clean up your website and operate it within today's Google guidelines' My questions, HOW many of you have 'cleaned up' one of these type websites? My suggestion is that for those who have not done so, STOP proclaiming it can be done. The chances of successfully pulling this off is partically ZERO!


02/13/2014 12:46 pm

Same as if they had signed on with a dodgy company that did a runner in any other field. If you made a deal with a dodgy builder who built a house, took the money and ran when the house started falling down a few months later, it would be exactly the same. If you hire an SEO company, the responsibility it still your's. Exactly the same as in the situation above, a brick fell down and hit a customer. The safety responsibility is still your's, the customer will sue YOU not the builder. If you didn't do some research before hiring a SEO and checked and found out exactly what they were going to do and that it was within the Guidelines, well, that is also your responsibility. >>My questions, HOW many of you have 'cleaned up' one of these type websites? Yes, more than a few. There are also quite a few amateurs who have done it on the webmaster forums as well. The chance of success is very high if you are actually prepared to do what Google advise. Of course if the website was only ever ranking in the first place because of the dodgy links, its not going to suddenly start ranking because the links are removed. The simple truth there is the website should NEVER have ranked and was only ranking because of the dodgy tactics used, which now don't work anymore.

Patti Paz

02/13/2014 01:15 pm

OK, those blinders are awful hard to see through. Care to share names of any of those websites YOU cleaned up from a manual penalty back to where the website was before the penalty? Yea, I thought so . . . . .


02/13/2014 01:21 pm

Why? Are you incapable of looking on the webmaster forums yourself? Yes, I agree, your blinders are clearly making it hard to see. Loads of people have got manual penalties removed. What you are meaning is there was a crap site, it was only ranking because of lots and lots of spam links and it didn't come back after the links were removed...... No surprise. The penalty wasn't what was stopping the site ranking, it was the site that was stopping the site from ranking. Basically this entire complaint is "Waaa, I can't get my crappy website to rank by spamming millions of links anymore" The sites that were naturally ranking before the spammy links came in, did return to the same rankings after the penalties were removed in all the cases I've seen so far.

Patti Paz

02/13/2014 01:28 pm

Still waiting on that list of websites YOU have salvaged . . . .

Ammon Johns

02/13/2014 01:42 pm

For as long as there has been SEO as a term, there have been warnings against companies that rip people off for it with useless submissions, or faked submissions. There are literally thousands, if not millions of articles out there warning about selecting a bad SEO company. Given that undisputable fact, on what grounds could *any* sensible company believe they were in good hands? Seriously, any company or individual that hires an SEO that even mentions any one of the following from the OP has done no level of due dilligence into its purchase at all: 2 - Directory Submissions 3 - Article Directories 4 - Forum posting (for SEO?) 5 - Forum Signatures (For SEO?) 6 - Forum Profiles (For SEO?) 7 - blog commenting 9 - Link wheeling (or any other shape of linking, which is therefore BY DEFINITION manipulating links) You buy a service that even mentions one of those things you have to know you are buying spam. They are not even worded deceptively to hide what they are, as the same things THOUSANDS of articles have clearly said NEVER to buy.

Ben Guest

02/13/2014 01:48 pm

Patti, it doesn't work that way. Just because you clean it up doesn't mean your rankings will magically appear again. All that bad stuff that was originally giving the website credit is now being discredited. So instead of chasing the bad links, what's your strategy to EARN good links? I would love to share but our clients are all under NDAs, and we don't make money by boasting our results to others. We make money by building businesses into profitability for a long lasting relationship. Then word eventually gets out. Boasting is not required. But if you want to see, I am sure these SEO experts that sell SEO software will gladly show you.

Ammon Johns

02/13/2014 01:49 pm

Some actual work. You know, the sensible stuff based on even the tiniest understanding of the word 'Marketing'. ALL of the above list with the exception of guest posting was known to be a poor practice TEN YEARS AGO. Seriously, look in the archives of any decent forum for good advice in 2004 and all of those things were marked as black hat, short term, and the kind of crap only offered by offshore companies whose best attempt at a marketing campaign was "I have cheap product. Buy my cheap product!" All the good practices of link building from 10 years ago are still great advice. Guest posting still works great too, as long as your aim is NOT to spam links into it. Buy a book on marketing, or on Public Relations, and LEARN!

Ben Guest

02/13/2014 01:53 pm

So this "SEO expert" is now a "Negative SEO Expert". Good for him.

Ammon Johns

02/13/2014 01:54 pm

I'm UK based. Back in 2001, while I was working on a little consumer opinions website that I got into the Neillsen Top Ten UK shopping sites list as the fastest ever entry, Inktomi was the biggest reaching search engine. Ask Jeeves had a decent market share. People were barely aware of Google outside the hard-core webmasters and technophiles promoting it to their friends and family. Google had started in 1998, and by 2001 was just becoming a major player. Most of its staff at the time had come from an earlier top player called AltaVista

Ben Guest

02/13/2014 01:55 pm

Shhhhhhh, don't let it out that SEO is a method of inbound MARKETING. ;-) Good to see you Ammon. Take care.


02/13/2014 01:59 pm

Still waiting for you to give a reason I should list them instead of you putting in the effort. If I was going to list them I'd have to go to each of the clients and ask permission to list them here, which I'm not going to do for someone to lazy to look on the WM forums themselves. There have been more than a few who have said there that they have recovered publicly. I know it easier for you to deny everything and claim its impossible but that doesn't make it true. Given its you making the allegation that its impossible to recover, if anything the burden of proof is on you, however since you have zero evidence you are trying to turn it around..

Ben Guest

02/13/2014 02:00 pm

Bloggers are the target now. Being paid to drop a link in their authoritative site. Just ask Expedia.

Nick Ker

02/13/2014 02:15 pm

Start here: http://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en/us/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf But if you have to ask "what now?" you might be better served by: http://www.assessment.com/


02/13/2014 02:23 pm

I only have vague memories of AltaVista as a child. I remember some of my friends in IT class saying it had a great image search function. A lot of this is before my time to be honest. In 1998 I was a mere ten years old


02/13/2014 02:34 pm

Anyone that believes posting on forums, having a signature, etc., can cause negative impact on your SEO is completely wrong.

Sean Hecking

02/13/2014 02:38 pm

Right! It's not always what you do but how. It's not a black/white yes/no. How you do these things and how much is usually the case for spammers. If you SPAM forums, its bad. If you provide help in forums and engage with people, its good.

Oleg Korneitchouk

02/13/2014 03:16 pm

"It's not always what you do but how." Right on the money. This applies to a bunch of these... Guest posting, directories, forum posting/signatures, blog commenting - hell, even creating web 2.0 properties can still work. Instead of complaining, he should be looking at the present and what he should be doing.. creating great content and getting it in front of people who will share it. It's much harder than press button, get links, profit (which I'm sure he remember's as the "good ol' days"). Hope there are more "experts" who think like this and make the industry less competitive for real pros :P

Ammon Johns

02/13/2014 04:36 pm

Ah, that helps give some context... think of it this way, for as long as you have even known about SEO, is roughly how long it had been a profession already at that time. So however experienced you feel now, is how dismissive it would be to think SEO didn't exist before Google. SEO was actually a more valuable profession back before around 2000, since that's when options like pay per click, and its like first started to come out. Pay per click was huge for several years before Google jumped on board that bandwagon with its own version. Remember, Google only formed as a company after its founders, Page and Brin, utterly failed to get any of the big existing search engines to buy their algorithm. Even Yahoo turned them down, and some tease that Yahoo will buy anything. :)

Ammon Johns

02/13/2014 04:43 pm

That's not really true, and as an Administrator at Cre8asiteForums for many years in the heyday of SEO forums, I saw literally hundreds of examples of people ruining their SEO by spamming forums. Think about it, the reason people even want the link is because the forum has more power, authority, link-juice, etc than the site they are trying to promote. In other words, it could easily naturally outrank them, and is certainly powerful and authoritative enough for any thread calling them out as spammers to have a good chance of landing in the top-ten search results for their own domain name, company name, etc.


02/13/2014 05:23 pm

That makes a lot of sense, thanks for the extra insight. Wasn't it Backrub or something before Google? I remember being told that's how they started out

Ammon Johns

02/13/2014 05:55 pm

Yes, backrub was the name of Googlebot before there was a Google, back when it was simply the work of 2 students at Stanford. The funny thing is that Google is famous mostly for PageRank, but PageRank wasn't actually *that* revolutionary, and was based entirely on a highly simplified version of IBM's CLEVER project that Jon Klienberg is famed for. That, and an algorithm (mathematical) for predicting Nobel prize winners based on the number of citations the work got in other papers. The biggest 'secret' of Google isn't its algorithms. It is the computing power of their custom cluster network, and the unique operating systems behind it. Cluster networking was very new back then, and while it is far more common today, it is Google's own engineers that have been *major* contributors to its progress, systems, etc.

David Rothwell

02/13/2014 07:38 pm

Google's origins (from Project Backrub) are the citation model. Citations (think Bibliography) are never bought, or manipulated. They are the antithesis of any kind of Commercial transaction. And they are based on a real identity, which is a person who has created or added value. Based on this it's easy to identify the transgressors and negate their efforts.

Rahul Mishra

02/14/2014 12:16 pm

Then what can we do? We all know not to spam links in content, make it sharable on all platform. Don't do directory, bookmarking, article directories and all these spammy things. As I think, Google is also not sure about activities to do. If we have any new born website and we need to create link for it. Then how to do. There are lots of client which don't know about Google update and all these things. They only want their keywords in top 10 in 3-4 months which is not possible for any generic keyword. There is no rocket science in it but client don't want to understand these simple things which Google says. Can anyone tell here if we do not post our link in wikihow, storify then where to post?

Josh Zehtabchi

02/14/2014 01:49 pm

All of a sudden, I really /like/ my competition!

Anh Wu

02/14/2014 04:27 pm

Google wants more money from ads, especially when their share is bigger.

Gracious Store

02/15/2014 12:11 am

In the post penguin and panda algorithm era, are there any white hat SEO tactics that rea alternative to adwords?


02/15/2014 10:50 am

Then what exactly to do in seo if everything is banned?


02/15/2014 11:05 am

We have to think according to users means we have to deliver everything according to user point of view not by spamming because google is also giving preference to the informative sites.

Steve Erlich

06/23/2014 06:20 pm

Things like this drive me bonkers, hurt my brain, and make me strongly desire a glass of scotch. Google could sum up 75% of their webspam guidelines in one sentence. "If the only reason you are building this link or adding this content is to manipulate rankings, you should not do it." If you can't follow that guideline, its pretty much time to find a new industry.

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