Google Screwing with SEO Search Results?

Apr 9th

Recently SEO Inc stopped showing in Google for the term search engine optimization.
As stated on the Stepforth blog, allegedly several SEO firms received spam emails trying to get people to three way link exchange with SEO Inc.

Not sure if that was part of the problem for them, or if they were behind it, but if they were they really need to get a grip on the whole risk vs reward concept.

SEO Inc also rented a ton of links and may have hit a filter there. I think they were probably more aggressive at link renting than any other SEO site, and if you are risky with that eventually it eventually catches up with you.

Surely a bad deal for SEO Inc as they likely will now get to pay $15 a click for search engine optimization, a term which Google itself is also advertising on.

[update: NickW noticed that SEO Inc has a new forum and the CEO said they were not behind (and know nothing about) the link spam emails.]

Why do Sites Rank for "Search Engine Optimization?"
I look at the search results in this space a good bit, as a hobby and to see how creative others are as much as anything else, but these are some of the reason I think the top ranking sites are ranking where they are:

  • by just being old. Some still see significant benefit from ranking there a long time ago (that whole filthy linking rich thing).
  • some of them provide bonus link to me stuff that some .edu sites love to point links at. like "submit your site to 1,000,000 engines for free". There generally is no value to it, but it is an effective link building technique.

  • some of them created link to me type stuff that other consultants or SEO nubs might link to. like the Bruce Clay code of ethics. For a while when I was all new I linked into that.
  • SEO Chat rents links from some sites but they also get a ton of support by having a good number of seo tools and a community that also links back at their site.
  • Jill Whalen's High Rankings has one of the stronger brands in SEO and lots of friends who link at her. Writes articles for other sites and has a large number of subscribers to her newseltter. She also is known as "the content seo" or "the seo content writer" which of course helps her get a bunch of links from people who agree or disagree with that position.

A few sites on the first page, and more as you get down into the second and third pages you see a few more sites that really ring the bell for things like:

  • Wired is an amazingly respected authoritative site.

  • There is an SEO organization site. Bound to get many links from it's supporters.
  • Google's official SEO guidance.
  • Lots of reciprocal link trading.

  • Renting a ton of links.
  • Placing links to the SEO firm on clients sites.

Is there Value in Ranking for Search Engine Optimization?
I tend to think that there is too much competition to justify the opportunity cost of actively trying to rank for that term in Google. You need to get a good amount of linkage data and build up over an extended period of time. Significant investment both in time and money.

If you are close to ranking for it then it might be worth trying to capture it if it has little additional cost, but many sites that optimize for highly competitive generic terms end up getting filtered out of the search results in the process.

The whole concept of optimization is to get the most bang for your buck and if your site gets filtered out from ranking for the more targeted terms because you were trying to rank for such a generic term then that cuts deep into the return on investment numbers.

Additionally many people are inclined to want to beat down an SEO firm when they are down. I saw a decent number of hate threads about SEO Guy and my site when our sites were filtered most likely based on link text and run of site links. Of course now that my site quickly ranks again those people are silent waiting for their next turn to attack.

In any case I hope SEO Inc comes back soon. If an SEO site does not rank for an extended period of time eventually that can start cutting into brand value.

Affiliate marketing, profit share partnerships, selling services on a per click basis, and personal branding seem to be the best ways to build profitable SEO service business models.

When most of the market is hype and hucksters its hard to be properly compensated without a strong brand. Since the services are invisible until the results show and most clients do not undersand the process brand in SEO is HUGE! Brand is probably the top reason I have done well so far.

On a related note:
I like the Google search results for SEO. 20 of the top 30 ranking sites are not in English. < goes off to learn Japanese to rank better :) >

Published: April 9, 2005

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