Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece only. Please don't rely on the information posted here when making decisions regarding whether or not you do business with any particular company.
Panda. Penguin. EMD. Freshness. These are but four of an ever increasing list of algorithms released by Google the search engine company that releases at least five hundred algorithms every year. Five hundred algorithms per year at a minimum. That's a staggering amount. Who can possibly keep up with all of them?
Google has been indexing the internet since the closing days of the 20th century, their stated
purpose was to "organize the world's information" in order to make it
"universally accessible and useful". At first glance that reads like a
very lofty and noble objective. But stop and ask yourself this simple
question: "Useful to whom?" To the user? To the site owner? To Google?
Before I begin, I should warn you that this topic is very sensitive. Many information consumers are unaware of how the internet operates, the processes whereby webmasters create and post content to the World Wide Web. Because of the complexities of doing business on the internet, many entrepreneurs are wary of discussing Google's influence over the World Wide Web. But as an online media publisher and internet consumer, I feel it is important to talk about where Google's over reach may take the Internet.
You see, long before the invention of social media, the World Wide Web relied on communication between computers, the majority of that communication being aided by links. In the traditional sense, websites obtained links through link exchanges, directory listings (both paid and free) and guest posting.
In the mid 1990s, it was easy to locate a particular website because there were few of them around. But today six hundred and thirteen million websites exist on the internet. Six hundred and thirteen million. That's a lot of websites. And with thousands of websites coming online everyday, it's becoming harder to get noticed. So websites increasingly use traditional methods e.g. directories, link exchanges, etc. as well as social media and social networking to establish reliable internet connections.
The task of search engines such as Google is to index all of this information. For a while Google encouraged these traditional practices and websites flourished. But suddenly Google began changing their view on this. Over time, organic search results have gradually become blurred with listings that include Google's own products.
The upheaval in Google's organic search results suggest the company is gradually transitioning to a paid inclusion search engine. Moreover, it's becoming harder for lots of websites to get first page rankings. As a result many sites have experienced drops in traffic. To make up for it, some webmasters will resort to dirty tactics (black hat SEO and negative SEO) to deceive the search engines and readers into visiting their websites. But that's not the way to go. Why waste your time and money outsourcing to a third rate company that will only damage your business's reputation?
On the other hand, to simply dismiss another website's sudden decline in traffic as their fault i.e. that webmaster is doing something wrong is ludicrous. One famous example of a website that experienced declines in traffic is Foner Books who claims to have been negatively impacted by one of Google's algorithm updates.
Then there's DaniWeb, a very popular online IT website. That famous
website has been online for many years and has created a large fan base but after the introduction of the Panda update, they reportedly experienced a drop in traffic .
Of course the traffic decline could be attributed to a variety of causes. Nonetheless, in spite of following Google's suggestions for improving
site quality, DaniWeb has been hit by Panda again and again.
DaniWeb's and Foner Books' experiences serve as reminders of what Google is: a company that will do what it wants to do in order to make money. You can't please Google and you shouldn't even want to.
Google indexes the internet to make money.
with the steady stream of algorithms and refreshing of algorithms and
tweaking of algorithms by the men and women of Google's webspam
team, in efforts to fine tune the search engine to best suit Google's business
goals, webmasters are jumping through a never ending series of hoops
just to keep up.
Google's influence over the Internet has reached the point where some people are afraid to link to other websites for fear that it will bring down the weight of Google upon them. But think of what will happen to the internet if websites are afraid to link to one another. Information sharing - education itself - would suffer because websites would close themselves off from access by others.
Moreover, when you're working feverishly to please Google, to get back into
"Google's good graces" it costs you time and money. Time and money that
could be spent serving and pleasing your customers.
Many webmasters are spending much of their budget on Google advertising hoping to get traffic by having their company's ad displayed on different websites or next to results displayed in Google's search engine. But Google Adwords isn't cheap and often times people don't see an immediate or reliable ROI. Put another way, it becomes quite costly to many business owners when they buy Google ads in the hopes that it will bring customers to their businesses.
And all the while Google is readying another algorithm which will affect anywhere from less than a tenth of a percent of searches (which out of billions of searches per day still affects millions of websites) to drastic and sweeping algorithms that hit websites across the board (including Today.com and other websites both large and small) while Google's own products benefit.
When a search engine company's own products are constantly featured at the top of the results - as well as allegedly using loopholes to bypass privacy settings in a popular web browser to track users' surfing behavior - is that really promoting fair competition and providing web surfers with the best and most comprehensive information available?
Webmasters in particular should consider this possibility: With all of the algorithms, sooner or later, every website is going to do something wrong in the "eyes" of Google. You may be safe today but what guarantees do you have that at some point, your site will not be affected?
As a business owner, can you
really afford to take the chance that Google, a monolithic mega corp
which some may deem "too big to fail" won't roll across your website and
your business? You've worked hard to start your own business. Why should you allow Google to dictate how you should run it?
Google is just a company they're not the law, therefore we are not beholden to them.
So, solutions to getting out from under Google involves diversifying your link strategy. Use the traditional linking methods, other search engines and social networking. While you're at it, don't forget about paid advertising.
Online advertising is worth billions of dollars. Why spend all of your advertising budget on Google? Use various ad networks to get your site in front of the masses.
be sure, use yahoo, Bing and Facebook, but don't overlook smaller
Before you invest in paid advertising there are a few things you should do:
- Check out the company's reputation. Make sure they follow good business practices including the use of no follow links.
- Make sure that their rates are reasonable and fair.
- Advertise on websites that will reach your intended audience. This way your money will be well spent.
To be fair, Google does have its uses, but as internet consumers, we should remember there are many alternatives to Google that are worth considering.
Remember, Google relies on websites to generate revenue meaning that Google will do things for its own benefit. Likewise, you must do what you must do to maintain a high quality website and that means not jumping through hoops to please a search engine at the expense of your readers.
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"Jumping Through Google's Hoops Isn't Going To Get You Traffic" copyright 2012 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.