A large part of the search marketing game that gets little discussion is perception. Are the search results relevant? Are the search results fresh? Is there adequate result diversity? Is that particular result worthy of that ranking? What techniques did they use to rank there?
User vs Engineer Perspective
Gord Hotchkiss does a great job covering the searcher's perspective, but rarely do you get to see how a search engineer thinks of the results. This NYT article offered a snapshot, but that has been filtered through the public relations team. The results show not what the engineers want, but the best they can do given their current mindset and computing resources.
Reading Changes in the Search Results
If you can learn to read changes in the results you can see what they are trying to fix right now, what issues will become a big problem, and what issues they do not care about. For example, right now, Google does not care for result diversity. They are so afraid of small spam sites that they:
- allow garbage search results from authoritative domains to rank for a wide array of keywords
- allow category leaders to own the first page of search results
Why You Should NOT Trust a Search Engineer's Blog
You can't really trust the perspective of a blog posted by a search engineer because they typically discuss the view of search from an ideal world. In addition, the role of the search engineer blog is to control and manipulate public perception more than it is to share useful information. In some cases they tell you how going off topic is wrong, while they are proud to cite your off topic marketing and praise it if you are syndicating their spin.
If You Were a Search Engineer, Would You Lie?
When you look at how they try to manipulate people you can see the holes in their algorithms. They are nothing but an algorithm, an ad network, marketing, and how they manipulate people to cede power and authority to their fickle relevancy algorithms. If they are hypocritical in their view of the web then manipulation is a large and important piece required for them to keep what authority they have.
How to Spam Google Right Now
A few tips they don't want you to know the truth about:
- Buying old sites works amazingly well.
- Buying and redirecting sites works amazingly well.
- Paid links work amazingly well, and you have a strong brand or can tolerate a bit of risk you would be an idiot not to exploit that hole.
- Exact match domain names play a good role in helping a site rank for the associated keyword phrase.
- The supplemental results suck, but they don't want the portion of the web they throw into it to realize just how bad it sucks.
- The search results have a lot of hand editing in them. Hand editing is gratuitous for smaller websites, but they are afraid to edit out large corporations.
Why might Google refer to some of the above techniques as spam? Simply because they are effective. We don't write the algorithms. We give the search engines what they want.
Have You Ever Been Hand Edited?
Search relevancy algorithms change depending on what types of spamming are popular and effective at the time. After experiencing your first hand edit on something you worked hard to build it changes the way you perceive search engines, and how much you are able to respect them. If you are a professional you are not supposed to take it personally, but it is hard not to if you have to fire all of your employees.
Why is it that one person can review your site and kill your business model, but they wrap their ads around people stealing your content and it is a long drawn out process to get them to fix that problem? It is just an extension of how Google thinks of consumers. If you don't have lawyers they don't give a crap about you.
What is Spam?
Spam used to be irrelevant, but now that the web is a direct marketing channel spam is typically more seen as being focused on who was paid to achieve the results. Search relevancy algorithms are based on ad sales. Something that is spam is perfectly acceptable if Google gets a buck a click out of it. Ad networks dictated by automation and economic efficiency also push a lot of fraud. Consider the following:
- McAfee conducted a study showing that paid search results are at least twice as likely to scam consumers as organic search results
- many of the most profitable ads are profitable because they are misleading or exploit common psychological weaknesses. Google's CPA ads are virtually unmarked, and Google opted publishers into the program without even asking for their permission.
- Google sold AdWords ads promoting preteen sex
- Google sold AdWords ads promoting Ponzi scheme investment fraud
- Google syndicated ads on the largest Warez site
- Google removed disclosure from many of their syndicated ads
- Google has placed unmarked ads in their search results
- Google funds an overwhelming majority of copyright and trademark violations
- Google sells AdSense ads on sites they removed from their index for spamming
- Google recommended HMOs carpet bomb consumers with deceitful educational messaging
Much of their profit margins come from supporting fraud, but most people do not realize the extent of it.
Why is Google's ad centric view of the web viewed as more honest than any other business model?
How to React to a Hand Edit
The way to look at search is that they want their techniques to be robust and scalable. Anytime a search engineer does something to you that is unjust and draconian it is because they have a huge hole in their algorithm. After you get hand edited the four strategies worth exploring are
- how to obfuscate your identity
- how to scale exploiting the holes which required a search engineer to try to destroy your business
- how to make your "spam" fit their view of relevancy so they don't go out of their way to keep hand editing your businesses
- let others know if you think something is dishonest so you can help them avoid trusting it too much
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