No, SEOs & Google Didn't Ruin The Internet & Nor Is The Internet Ruined

Nov 2, 2023 - 8:01 am 32 by

Google Seo Robot Black Eye

The SEO community was in a buzz yesterday when The Verge published an entertaining, detailed, and long piece titled Did SEO experts ruin the Internet or did Google? The short answer is no, SEOs didn't ruin the Internet, Google did not ruin the Internet, and the Internet is not ruined. But the article and author said otherwise.

I was hoping not to cover it but I cover what the SEO community is buzzing about and oh boy was there a lot of buzzing yesterday, so much so that I cannot include all that buzz in this story.

It is a super long read but in short, what the author, Amanda Chicago Lewis, did was go with a the premise that the Internet and the Google search results are worse today than they were 10 or 20 years ago and she tried to figure out why that is the case.

I've been reporting on search for 19 years and 11 months (a month from today is my 20 year anniversary of covering search) and I will say these things in reaction to this story:

  • Search is way better than it was in 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015 an even 2020
  • The changes Google makes to search not only drive better search quality, in general (not always - there are plenty of examples where Google gets it wrong)
  • The changes also push publishers (site owners) to build better sites; better content, faster sites, more secure sites, etc
  • The stories told in the story are about the early days of SEO
  • The early days of SEO were like the wild west and Google was super easy to manipulate
  • SEO conferences no longer have crazy wild parties sponsored by Yahoo
  • Most of those who told those stories mentioned in the Verge story no longer do SEO because SEO is harder now
  • It is super hard to trick Google, not that it is impossible but it is incredibly hard
  • SEOs in the late 90s and early 2000s were in their basements monetizing low cost web sites
  • Now SEOs go to corporate offices, get mentioned on public companies earnings reports, have titles like VP of SEO
  • SEO is no longer the wild west and it is a legit and respected profession

Again, this whole article started with a premise that internet search, aka Google, is worse today than it was a decade or two ago. That is 1000% false, I know, I wrote over 40,000 stories stories on Google Search in 20 years. SEOs have matured and are real professionals, with real people, real families, getting a salaried paycheck, health insurance, 401ks and stock options.

It seems as if this author doesn't know what the internet or search looked like 15 years ago.

I believe the author worked on this story for over six-months, she spoke to some really credible SEOs and I am super impressed she was able to speak with both Danny Sullivan and Matt Cutts. Plus she writes incredibly well and the whole read was absolutely entertaining.

I recommend you read the responses from Danny Sullivan and Danny Goodwin and Gianluca Fiorelli on this. Oh, and the Verge's Editor-In-Chief Nilay Patel posted about Sullivan's response here saying, "ultimately Google’s guidance was so opaque that we excluded quick posts from the search index rather than accept the traffic risk. (We’re going to let them get indexed soon, though. Yolo.)" I should add that I do find it interesting that Danny Sullivan had an email chat with The Verge about its redesign for SEO purposes... I do like that the feedback was "opaque," but that is for a different story (which Danny addressed in a postscript on his blog)...

Techmeme also has a good roundup of the reaction to this story.

I'll just quote some of those who were quoted in this story, so you have their perspective:

Here are just some select community responses, I really can't include them all:

I am excited to read the comments below...

Forum discussion at X, HackerNews, Reddit and Threads.

 

Popular Categories

The Pulse of the search community

Follow

Search Video Recaps

 
Video Details More Videos Subscribe to Videos

Most Recent Articles

Search Forum Recap

Daily Search Forum Recap: May 24, 2024

May 24, 2024 - 10:00 am
Search Video Recaps

Search News Buzz Video Recap: Google Ranking Volatility, Ads In Google AI Overviews, Sundar Pichai Interview, Heartfelt Helpful Content & More Ad News

May 24, 2024 - 8:01 am
Google Search Engine Optimization

Google: The Site Reputation Abuse Policy Enforcement Not Yet Algorithmic

May 24, 2024 - 7:51 am
Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Search Can Now Index Electronic Publication (EPUB)

May 24, 2024 - 7:41 am
Google

Directory Of Embarrassing Google AI Overviews

May 24, 2024 - 7:31 am
Web Analytics

Google Analytics Real-Time Reports Adds Users In Last 5 Minutes

May 24, 2024 - 7:21 am
Previous Story: Google Core Update Bug Resulted In Discover Traffic Issues - Now Fixed