I like Google, I really do. As a “white hat” Organic SEO company, Level343 has supported Google again and again. When Google pushed for SEO guidelines, we backed them. When they made it possible for people to see others’ houses on Google Maps, I thought, “Well, why not? Just make sure your yard’s clean.”
A while back Google said it’s best to put “nofollow” on paid links and anyplace else you don’t want the crawlers going to. Then, two days ago, Matt Cutts (part of Google’s Search Quality team) says don’t use the nofollow tag on anything but the paid links.
On his blog he points out that they’re changing the way things work at Big Brother Google again, because people are using the nofollow tag as “Page Rank Sculptors”. Basically, people are trying to manipulate how PageRank flows through their site.
Now, this isn’t a big deal in and of itself. In my mind, it’s just another instance of Google doing what Google does, as always. A week or two ago, however, I came across a little tidbit of news that was plain shocking. Although I’ve held my tongue up until this point, I just get more incensed the more I think about it. In fact, it rubs me the wrong way so much that it moved me to post on Gabriella’s blog for the first time.
At the You & A conference with Matt Cutts, Cutts admitted that Google profiles SEOs! Of course, this was a few weeks ago, so you can read about it all over the net:
To sum up the (justifiable, in my mind) outrage pouring through the Internet highways and byways, many SEOs, if not all, are as disgusted as I am. Michael Gray, a well-known SEO consultant, stated in sarcastic frustration:
“My advice to you don’t involve anyone with SEO experience in any of your link building tactics, have it run entirely by a public relations person, and you should be fine, Google lets them get away with murder … or at least giving away free cars, cell phones, and all expense paid trips in exchange for links.”
Long and short, Cutts says that SEOs are “high risk” and “people who do things deliberately for links”. Huh? What? He goes on the say that whether a link is above board or not is “a matter of intent”. In other words, Google can now read your mind to find out whether a link is all about relevance or all about getting a “deliberate link”. I think Lisa Barone said it the best in “Google Profiles SEO as Criminals” on Outspoken Media (link above):
“Google, you need to stop with the intent card. You have NO WAY of determining someone else’s thoughts. You don’t know the face of evil . You never did. And these days, that face of evil that you’re looking so hard for is YOU as you continue to push your way through the Web intimidating webmasters, applying double standards, and playing the game of misdirection.
“And in case there’s some confusion, your standard, back-up-against-the-wall response of, “you can do whatever you want with your site, but it’s our index” isn’t ACTUALLY an answer. It’s you being a bully. It’s an abuse of power. And more importantly, it’s WRONG.
“Profiling a site associated with an SEO as being “high risk” is no more egregious and an abuse of power than a cop questioning that black kid who just happens to be walking down the wrong street.”
*Applause* Way to go Lisa! Like I said at the beginning, Level343 is a white hat SEO company; we have done our best to make sure everything we do is above board so our clients don’t get penalized. We push the need for strong, relevant content to our clients, our readers and anyone else who’s interested in optimizing their website. Like Google, our main concern is the quality of your website; we want your visitors to come back for more – to come back for strong, informative content.
We don’t deal in link farms, paid links (except for advertising purposes) or any other kind of linking that could be considered black hat. The fact that this doesn’t matter, that SEOs are considered “high risk” simply because we’re SEOs is a little too much for me to swallow quietly.
Michael Gray, Lisa Barone and several others are banding together to let people know about Google’s bad behavior. Now, we’re chiming in, as well. Pass the blogs and articles about this topic around. Let other’s know that Google’s going above and beyond what’s right, accepted and legal.
Shame on you, Google.