SEO in Trouble

Welcome back to The Honest Way blog. I’m going to talk about something that has been irritating me on a business level for some time now and may or may not be affecting other people involved in trying to scrape a living from the Internet using honest methods. Its all about the way Google may be looking at certain individuals with regards to their activities online. In a word, SEOs.

Now, first things first. I’m going to be talking specifically about my own experiences here, so no one else is in the firing line, just me.

I was alerted to this post http://www.seomoz.org/blog/googles-web-spam-team-deriving-value-from-profiling-seo-operators-of-interest a few days ago and it got me thinking about the possibility that Google might view me as one of these evil black bowler-hat SEO monsters who are using illicit methods to game their index in order to rank websites highly.

All I can say to that assumption is “Why?”

If its even true, of course but certain things are happening with websites bearing my name that lead me to wonder if that might not be the case. Things like websites that have a ton of originally written content, by me, on topic and relevant, have a large number of authority backlinks obtained gradually over the life of the site and still don’t rank anywhere in the SERPs for certain keywords or have been rewarded with a decent Page Rank for all the effort. Let’s take a highly visible website like, oh, I don’t know, this one as an example!

You only need to look at its lowly PR2 despite having in-links from many trusted, authority PR4 sites to see its being held back. Not that I’m overly worried about Page Rank. It doesn’t really affect SERPs authority and position so its no big deal. It’s just it’d be nice to have the recognition for all the work I put into this site. Its all original, no PLR, no dup content – I wrote it all. If scrapers have taken my content and duplicated it on theirs, there’s nothing I can do about that. Its two and a half years old and gets updated regularly, if not this blog, then the forum that is attached to the site. The main static pages stay the same, but they’re another powerhouse of original content.

I’m not going to reveal my niche sites here, that would be foolhardy. But Google knows what they are and it also knows that very few of them actually rank where they ought to. Now, if I was a great black topper SEO guru, then wouldn’t those sites be kicking the crap out of their competition?

Yes they would.

You only have to look at sites that dominate some of the more high power keywords like credit cards, weight loss, loans, finance, insurance, make money etc to see that the majority of them got there and stay there because the owners are buying links like they’re going out of fashion.

I don’t buy links. Never have. I don’t sell links either.

They are two of the most widely used illicit methods of gaming the SERPs and the site owners that engage in the practice are keeping legitimate site owners down. Black beret SEOs buy links and engage in obtaining links from paid link farms. Incidentally, I’m not a member of any paid link farms either. Never have been. This is the mainstay of their activities and it is this practice that causes the SERPs to be gamed by these guys who are literally buying their way to the top. So are Google going after those site owners that are obviously buying links?

Who knows, but if they are, then why are those sites still there at the top?

Lets look at one of the biggest concentration of SEO activity – the make money niche. This is a potentially huge money spinner for the owners of websites/blogs that sit on top of that tree. Nobody is going to get there and stay there without having the use of some serious fire-power, I’m sure you’d agree. So how, if Google really are keeping a very close watch on people they believe to be black panama SEO mongers, are these sites staying on top? Are they legit? Mostly, yes. But so are the hundreds of other sites that are below them. So how do they stay put in such a volatile niche?

And if I’m such a big shot black fez SEO, why am I not up there too?

The answer is that I’m not a big shot black porkpie SEO. Not even a minnow compared to those guys that can dominate niches like make money or insurance etc. Not even close.

I know some things, but the methods I use to promote my sites are nothing out of the ordinary. I do what everyone else does, by writing articles and getting them published on other sites to get backlinks to my sites. I write in forums, submit my sites to directories, socially bookmark them, even submit the blogs to RSS aggregators to attract more traffic in the hope that traffic will like what they read and link back to me of their own accord.

Is this black trilby SEO? No it is not. Its actually what Google tells us to do in order to promote our sites.

So what else do I do that might lead a Google investigative employee to suspect that I’m a black fedora SEO?

I do create lots of website, blogs, squidoo lenses and hub pages and link some of them to each other. This is merely building up my online real estate and promoting it legitimately. You see by linking some of my own sites together, I am creating a linking system that links sites that are written on a similar subject or topic together. This is a perfectly natural thing to do. Why shouldn’t I link two, three or a dozen sites together that are on similar subjects? They’re mine after all. And I write all the content so they’re original and legit, just like the search engines want.

I might link a general health site to a weight loss site, which might link to a fitness site, which might link to an exercise equipment related site etc. This is correct linking as information contained in one site can be enhanced by making a reference to a post in another site that is related in some way. Its improving the surfing experience by expanding the information base across many websites. This is exactly what Google wants us to do!

So if my doing this is what might be causing me to come under suspicion of being a black cap SEO, then its crazy, because I’m only doing what is in actual fact good for the web surfer who is looking for information.

So guys, give me a break please, if indeed you’re even taking any notice of me.

I’m just an ordinary bloke trying to make some headway in a business that is as tough as anything you’ll find in the real world. I put in 12 hours a day at this and its not funny to watch a lot of hard work go up in smoke for no good reason, even worse when its by association and not even for any actual infringement of your quality guidelines.

If you want to really make an impact on the index, go after the real villains who are buying their way above everyone else. They’re easy to spot. They live at the top of the SERPs in niches and for terms that are impossible to get there by fair means.

Terry Didcott
The Honest Way

Do You Bing?

No, I haven’t gone round the bend, at least not today. Bing is the new search engine from Microsoft that seems to be a direct replacement for their “Live” search engine, but wrapped up in a nicer, more simple package and with some handy little extras that make it a very user friendly searching experience.

Hang on, why is he chirping about a search engine… and one owned my Microsoft at that?

Well now, normally I’d be finding faults especially if it comes from the MS stable. Let’s face it, Mr Gates might have got the world of PC users in a stranglehold that they can’t (or won’t) break out of, but when it comes to the Internet search traffic, the PhD’s at Google have well and truly kicked his extremely wealthy arse! Which is THE ONLY reason I’m chirping about a search engine that comes from the gold plated underbelly of the corporation that forces an operating system on you even if you don’t want it (and you still have to pay for it).

So what’s the beef? Google have become a monopoly and that’s bad for any business. Sure, their search engine is the most relevant and returns better relevancy than any of the others. But when you’re on the other end of that search culture, such as the creator of the websites that you are desperately trying to get their highnesses to rank in a decent place in said index, it’s damn frustrating watching your carefully constructed site that you write a ton of original content for by hand get relegated to the nether regions of the search pages top be beaten into submission by a bunch of crap sites that all happen to have more links pointing at them than you do. Or even more frustrating when you know you have more links than all of the sites above you but for some reason unbeknown to anyone, the majority of them are simply ignored.

And no, its not because those links come from duplicate content, or low authority sites or spammed blog comments or any of the generally accepted places that aren’t worth much. I mean links from authority sites that are (I believe deliberately) ignored to keep a site down and allow other less worthy piles of crap from rising above it.

But I digress slightly from the point of this post. If it has much of a point, that is.

Bing may not be an instant hit, or an overnight threat to Google’s mammoth leviathan. It may never take the bull by the horns and kick its arse back.

But in the longer term, it just might.

Why do I think that? Well, maybe I’m a little biased here, but where Google can be quite tough to crack no matter how legit your site may be, Bing seems to be a little kinder, at least to several of my own websites that are languishing in the realms of the forgotten in Google’s index for several of their better keywords. As a direct example, I’ve had a site that is targeting a fairly competitive keyword in the weight loss niche for the best part of a year now and while it has spent a fair whack of time climbing up page two of Google’s index (in US data centres, where it matters most), it keeps getting slapped down to page 6, where it currently resides. In contrast, Bing has placed the same site in the number two spot for the same keyword.

Why is that?

Who knows, but I would hazard a pretty educated guess that Bing is counting the site’s good, relevant content plus all of its quality links, whereas Google is not. That, for me means the difference between a good payday this month and just scraping by. The site does well with its monetisation when it gets targeted search traffic, and Bing is certainly sending it plenty of that.

So for now, at least, I will hope and pray that a real contender for Google’s crown is on its way and won’t fade out like a damp squib like all the rest seem to have done.

So Mr Gates, I (and my PC) might not much like your ever expanding Windoze, but I certainly hope your Bing has sufficient BANG to give the competition a decent run for its money.

Terry Didcott
The Honest Way