Google: SEO Isn't Good For Users Or The Internet

Feb 7, 2012 • 8:33 am | comments (39) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

ooops moment Jonathan Rockway, a Googler who is active on Hacker News slipped up on a comment he posted on Hacker News. Aaron Wall spotted it and wrote about it.

Let me quote the comment, then the "clarification" from Jon:

Instead of being able to SEO the entire Internet, businesses can now only affect the search results for a tiny percentage of users. That's a good thing because SEO can't scale, and SEO isn't good for users or the Internet at large.

If you look at the Google experience from the standpoint of customers, it's pretty good. Users get relevant search results and ads. Advertisers get their content on top of everything else. It's a good compromise between advertising and usability, and it works really well. It's a bug that you could rank highly in Google without buying ads, and Google is trying to fix the bug. Manipulating Google results shouldn't be something you feel entitled to be able to do. If you want to rank highly in Google, be relevant for the user currently searching. Engage him in social media or email, provide relevant information about what you're selling, and, generally, be a "good match" for what the user wants.

Jon then retracts not that SEO isn't good for users but that he meant to write ads versus search results:

Since people are taking what I've said out of context, I thought I'd clarify this statement:

"It's a bug that you could rank highly in Google without buying ads"

I shouldn't have mentioned ads here. Position on the results page should only depend on the quality of your content; if your site has the best content on the Internet for the user's search terms, you should be the top result. You shouldn't be able to change your position in the organic results any other way, like by exploiting bugs in Google's ranking algorithm. The specifics of the ranking algorithm may change, but if your site is the best, you won't have to worry about it.

Okay, so he retracted the buying ads thing and meant buying positions.

But SEO isn't good for users? Really? I thought SEOs helped Google find great content, make it more indexable and provide rich snippets for the markup all over Google's results today?

Forum discussion at Hacker News.

Image credit to ShutterStock for oops moment.

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