Is Google Becoming the New Yahoo?

Funny thing about search engines and the way we as Internet Marketers look at them in terms of their ability to generate targeted traffic to our websites from which we make our income, via affiliate commissions or PPC or whatever other monetization methods we use. For the last decade or so, Google has been the main engine in that it provides the bulk of all search traffic. It’s the Big I Am of search engines and we do what we have to do (using SEO) to get our sites to figure as high in their index as we can to take our slice of that traffic pie.

Google are the biggest mainly because regular surfers prefer it and that’s because it is unfussy and free of all those annoying ads that other search engines seem to plaster everywhere to confuse your search experience. At least that’s how it used to be. Not so these days as more and more advertising is creeping onto that first page of the index. Some are in the form of paid text ads, which have always been there to some degree or other, but lately more of the shopping type of ads that take a slot in the actual website index. For affiliate marketers, these are the kiss of death because regular surfers will click these if they are searching for a product to buy in preference to our websites that also promote the same products.

Was a time when all we had to do was compete with other affiliate websites doing the same thing. Now we have to compete with Google itself. And we a all losing.

But don’t despair, because historically, we can see where their very success will also be their downfall.

Back in the 1990s, when the world wide web was still in its infancy and e-commerce was only just getting going in a big way, Yahoo used to be the Big I Am search engine. They’re above fold search page looked more like an advertiser’s paradise. Nevertheless, the owners of Yahoo made truckloads of money from all this advertising and all was well in their garden.

Internet marketers were few and far between and of course there were no affiliate programs or PPC to make money from in those days at least until Amazon appeared, so marketers made money from selling real stuff to consumers. They soon learned that you could game Yahoo’s index using on-site SEO tactics like spamming your keyword meta tags (amongst other tricks) and your site would rise to the top of the pile. All was well in the e-commerce garden too.

At the end of the decade, Google came along with their simple, almost ad-less engine and everybody started using it cause they liked NOT seeing all those ads. Yahoo’s happy harmonious garden died a slow and painful death as Google’s garden grew. Internet marketers had to learn new tricks to feature their sites high in Google’s index, but they soon figured out how to do that and made truckloads of money, especially the new breed of IMer who was making use of the new affiliate sales technique that Amazon started off. Of course, in order to maintain their supremacy, Google now had to wage war on spammers who were deluging their index with crap sites full of affiliate and other ad links and no content. The “algo”, Google’s search indexing algorithm was born and it has been a constant battle between the algo programmers and the spammers (and also the Internet marketers who don’t use spamming tactics) to keep the index as clean as possible of all the dross. lately, Google’s algo is winning and thin sites are losing the battle to big, authority sites.

Of course, we all know most of this and this was just a little history lesson for those marketers who thing the world is flat and there has only ever been Google. But wait, because there is a new twist to this saga.

Google is fast becoming the New Yahoo.

Why do I say that? Because Google is adding ever more complicating extras to its once simple search index pages. It is also adding more advertising. There has always been the few text ads down the right column, but more recently the top area of the page has contained paid text ads that look similar to the search results. they are designed that way o entice would be surfers to click these ads thinking they are clicking on real websites that have been placed at the top of the search results because they are the most relevant to their keyword search.

In other words, Google is doing exactly the thing it’s algo programmers are trying to stamp out from SEO savvy website owners. Google are gaming their own index by placing paid ads above real websites for surfers to click thinking they are going to go to the most relevant sites, when in fact they are going to sites that have “bought” they way to the very top of the SERPs. A bit like the sites in the big competitive niches that buy links to get to the top, which is a practice frowned upon by Google. Does this sound just a little like the pot calling the kettle black?

But it gets worse. In the last year or so, Google have also been placing “shopping ads” in amongst the top 3 or 4 places in their index. These are accompanied by thumbnail images of the products searched for by the keywords entered by surfers. Again, Google is gaming its own index by allowing these paid shopping ads to outshine real websites in the index, with the result that a lot of affiliate sales are lost to legitimate websites would otherwise garner from their place of trust as the top most relevant sites in the index. But where is all this going to end?

Google is becoming the New Yahoo. I already said that, I know. This is why:

The next unfussy and ad-less search engine to rise to the task will do to Google what Google did to Yahoo. It will happen if there is another company out there with the balls to take the bull by the horns.

And so it goes around and around. Probably.

In the mean-time those of us IM mavericks who the rest of the world will never understand will keep doing this stuff no matter who the Big Dog Engine is or where he cocks his metaphoric leg. We pit our wits against the system and try to make as honest a buck as we can.

If you’re a Brit, then you’ll get this next bit (Google “Swiss Toni” and you’ll get some YouTube vids if you don’t know who he is). Here is what Swiss Toni would probably say on the subject:

Gaming a search engine is much like making love to a beautiful woman. You work out what makes her tick, point your backlinks to the right spot and then SEO her brains out.

Make Money The Honest Way

The Google Dance

Well, well, well. It seems my last post How to Get Legitimate Backlinks, had come at just the right time. It is obvious to any marketer that right now Google’s index is dancing around like a cat on a hot tin roof!

There has been a lot of discussion and speculation as to why suddenly many thousands of sites are disappearing from the SERPs altogether, while others that previously ranked well for their keywords have dropped considerably.

So what is happening?

Well, I can speculate just as well as the rest of ’em, but I’m going to base my own theories on a fairly strong foundation of observation, knowledge, listening to what other experienced marketers say and weighing the odds.

Back in my last post, I made it clear that my own methods of obtaining links to my sites were slow, ponderous, hard work but natural. The way one would expect to see a site grow over time, slowly and surely. I also know that there are many marketers who don’t have time for all that, or want to see results quickly, so use other, more automated methods of obtaining links to their sites.

Well, its pretty obvious to me that getting links to your site fast using social bookmarking software and automatied comment producing software is unnatural and seen by Google as trying to game the system by artificially pushing your sites up in their index. This is exactly what Google does not like to see, because these are similar to tactics used by spammers to rank quickly in order to make some fast cash.

The way you have to look at it is that Google wants quality, information strong sites at the top of its index, so that when someone types in a serach for, say “how to make money online” they actually get sites that tell them how to make money online and not sites that hit them with a page full of ads and nothing to read. Same goes for every keyword search that is made of their index. If you’re looking for information on what are the the most honest ways of promoting a website, then you should be presented with sites that tell you exactly that. This is why Google are the number one search engine. Their results are pretty much as relevant as is possible and why when you type in the same search in Yahoo or MSN etc, you get widely different results.

Well, recently a lot of information on how to game the system has been published in various blogs with only the best of intentions of course, for instance how to go up against the big boys and stand a chance of competing. Unfortunately, that information is exactly the sort of thing that Google does not want made so public, as it has enough trouble on its hands as it is with spammers.

So when this or that great new piece of software or method of getting links to artificially climb the SERPs gets made public, what do you think Google are going to do about it?

Exactly what they’re doing right now!

And that is tinkering with their index yet again in order to counter the new influx of marketers using artificial tactics and techniques for gaming it. They have the ability to simply not count links that are created by artificial means. So what do you think are going to be ignored first? The easiest ones to spot, ie rapidly obtained social bookmarking tags, blog comments and links contained in duplicate content sources.

I repeat, this is only conjecture on my part, but I reckon I’m not too far off the mark from what I can observe for myself and from what people are saying.

Duplicate content has always been a no-no if you want your site to rank well in the SERPs. Every marketer knows this, yet so many fail to see that by writing one article with a link back to their site in its resource box that is then sprayed all over the net to hundreds of article submission sites using article submission software is going to be a target for ignoring by Google. Not penalising, as that would cause more problems than it would solve, but merely by ingnoring links contained in duplicate articles, Google can easily weed out a big proportion of the sites that have gotten links faster than they would have done naturally.

Similarly with social bookmarking links that have been obtained unnaturally rapidly. No penalty needed, simply ignore the links and the receiving site suddenly gets ranked as it should.

Another type of site that is obviously not welcome in Google’s index is the thin affiliate, or commercial sites that contain lots of ads but very little or no informative, relevant content. These include BANS sites, or eBay store type sites that contain mainly links to eBay auction items but very little true content. Recently GoDaddy had a domain sale of .info sites for 99c each , which many marketers jumped on to use as BANS or thin affiliate sites. Well, many of those sites either failed to get indexed, or if they did, were soon de-indexed again. The problem that was not forseen is that the .info qualifier is meant to identify “information” sites, as .com indicates “commercial” so using .info domains for commerce is viewed by google as wrong.

Google has for many years been at war with MFA (made for adsense) sites. These are sites that contain little useful content and mainly lots of adsense (or similar) PPC ads with the intent to attract visitors from the SERPs who will find the site of no value and click an ad to navigate elsewhere. This has the potential to make the site owners a lot of money if they can get their MFA sites onto the first page of Google’s index, which is why spammers and other get rich quick marketers constantly do battle with Google to get this type of site indexed and highly ranked. By Google ignoring automated software generated links, this is a powerful way for Google to beat the spammers.

So if your own sites are bouncing all over the place in the SERPs at the moment and you are wondering why this is happening, I hope to have shed some light on things. It may not be exactly as I’ve pointed out, but I’ll bet that I’m pretty close to the mark. If your sites are legit, contain plenty of good, original and relevant content and you got your links the slow and steady way, then yuou should have nothing to worry about.

For my part, that is exactly how I’ve been building my own sites – slowly and naturally over a long time. For me then, I hope that Google is stamping out the automation in getting links by simply ignoring them. It makes the playing field more level for me and those like me that do things the honest way!

Terry Didcott
The Honest Way