Search engines are powerful because they are an editorial filter which encourages relevancy.
Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better
Frequently we are marketed to that any errors or omissions on the part of search engines are not due to bad algorithms, but rather do to unscrupulous spammers.
Webmaster guidelines are arbitrary & ever-shifting, and preached like gospel. The 'or else' fear mindset is a primary component of the algorithm.
In some cases search engineers conflate SEOs with hackers who are doing illegal activities, but if all marketers & advertisers were criminals then Google.com would top that list, given that ~ 99% of their revenues come from ads & fewer than 100 countries have a GDP greater than Google's revenues. :D
Are 'Spammers' Relevant?
Further claims against spammers include irrelevancy. That was true before I got into the search game (and in some edge cases might be true today), but most spammers try to be relevant. Back in the late 90's when "any page view will do" banner advertising ruled the web all one needed to profit was page views by any means. But as marketing has become more precise and more closely measured, it has become more relevant. With current online marketing being more driven by true conversion performance, relevancy is key. If you show up where you are not relevant you are simply wasting your time & money.
Search engines have a CPM higher than virtually any other type of media format precisely because their ads are so relevant.
Who Promotes Inferior Product?
Let's skip the fact that Google's ad system is set up to maximize yield, while ignoring that Google AdSense has a get rich quick ad category. Looking beyond those, the core argument against spammers is that they pollute the organic search results & leverage Google's distribution to bring inferior product to market.
You know who else does that?
Yelp Inc. CEO Jeremy Stoppelman has complained about Google's use of Yelp content for Google Place pages and is negotiating with Google over the issue. He said Google "is trying to leverage its distribution power"—the search engine—"to take an inferior product and put it in front of the user."
According to the above WSJ article, TripAdvisor's search traffic from Google is off over 10% since Google Place pages gained prominent placement in the search results. Not only does Google borrow 3rd party content & then use that to displace the source, but they also pay 3rd parties to do the same.
What is the real reason Google hates spammers?
In Google's ideal world they would build a media empire by scraping whoever's content they want, monetizing it however they like, and paying partners a prescribed share of the revenues, right up until Google finds another partner which is willing to accept less.
Richard Nixon's Take on Google
Here are MILLIONS of doorway pages Google created (and many of these are ranking in Google, even though users do not like 'search results in search results')
It reminds me a lot of Richard Nixon: "well when Google does it, that means it is not spam." Indeed!
Careful out there, the world is a spammy place. ;)
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