Never mind breaking bad, don’t be evil!

Breaking Bad's Walter White (Bryan Cranston) Jack O' Lantern

I’m conscious that I’ve not put a virtual pen to WordPress for more than a month now. Last Saturday a friend asked me where I found the inspiration for my daily blog! Clearly he does not take as close an interest in my virtual presence as I thought.

Walter White broke bad early on: series 1, episode 1 as I recall. Yet here we have Google, founded 15 years ago, still claiming not to be evil, but the truth is that Google is a near monopoly which is as near to evil as you can get in polite company in my neck of the woods. Certainly since it went public it has ceased to be the cuddly startup we all used to love. Don’t let the casual dress fool you; the suits are in charge.

Want to rank well in Google, well …

The key to getting links to your site is to create unique, compelling content that other people want to link to. [But] Google’s very good at detecting unnatural links that violate our Webmaster Guidelines (for example, those that come from link-exchange schemes, paid links schemes, or are auto-generated), so participating in such schemes could end up doing more harm than good.

But we all know that creating unique, compelling content is not enough. Except in small niches it only gets you so far and we have a huge SEO industry that recognises this and buys links for its clients in one way or another to vault them over the unique, compelling content.

So everyone gets involved in this game to game Google. Sites that want to be ranked well approach sites that do already have unique, compelling content, seeking to buy links which will enhance their ranking. What’s a site with good Google juice to do? Sell ads, that’s what.

Yet Google says “You can’t sell that sort of advertising; we don’t like it. You must use this HTML tag we invented (rel=nofollow) to say ‘this link is worthless’.” Seriously, can’t they figure out a way to value the link according to its context? I thought that was their raison d’etre!

And there’s this guy called Matt Cutts who heads the Webspam team at Google and pontificates on this stuff. He’s not anything like as handsome or charismatic as Jesus but his word is treated as Gospel. Seriously. Words fail me.

One thought on “Never mind breaking bad, don’t be evil!”

  1. Hi Nick,

    I feel your pain when it comes to google rankings. It is an algorithm though, and can be manipulated. Yes it is changing and improving, but people will still abuse it.

    In regards to content and context, they have, and are moving more towards the semantic web. (I have a post about it bookmarked on my mac if you want the link?)

    In regards to the rel=”nofollow” attribute, many seos believe that although google states it doesn’t “follow” the link, it still is a worthwhile link to have as there is some “juice” given, plus it helps diversify your link profile.

    At the end of the day, they are a for-profit company, have shareholders etc and they also use the whole fear uncertainty and doubt (,_uncertainty_and_doubt)”black box” approach for their marketing tactics. Yes there are websites out there that are ranking because of spam, however it soon catches up to them and loosing rankings/penalties are in order.

    For me, I don’t want to rely on google for 100% of my traffic, so I believe in getting links for targeted traffic primarily and google rankings will follow. “Prevention is better than cure”

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