Does anyone remember the argument put forth when the US banned online gambling that basically said that by banning the financial transactions associated with this, it would consequently open the door to new ways of funding terrorism? It made perfect sense. The same was said by Geoge Will about Prohibition. Making something bad makes PEOPLE bad. I can’t put it any better than he did with this comment: “…someone stands to make money from interfering with other people making money.” Right now, that someone is Google.
Now I’m not about to liken black hat SEOs to terrorists or makers of crap moonshine, as tempting as that would be for someone who loves satire as much as I do, but the point here is that an institution threw up a roadblock that would potentially open up giant sinkholes that would swallow many more people than the original offending acts would ever have done. Google is seriously venturing into this same territory with their constant attempts to make the web a better place (gag) and reduce SERP spam.
Think about this for a minute…during the past year, Google trashed several of our tried and true SEO techniques. Obviously we’d all be bored senseless if things stayed the same, but there were certain basics that I never thought I’d see vilified. Does this signify the fear that Google has? When they start messing around with such low-level techniques as directory listings, I have to think that it’s because they are truly at a loss over how to maintain control of something that they think has gotten out of hand. However, that is certainly their right but the main issue that I see with all of this is that it’s going to force people to sneak around and find other options. If the basics no longer help you, what else are you going to do? Put on some death rock and start getting your hands dirty.
It’s often been said, and by me especially, that the only difference between a gay man and a straight one is a 6 pack of beer. Apologies to any of you men that this has happened to of course…In the same fashion, the only difference between a white hat and a black hat is the loss of 6 places in the SERPs. If you’re fully white hat and you’ve written lovely relevant content and only received proper inbound links and your rankings go to hell in a handbasket and you have a client threatening your life (that’s a lot of ands there, sorry), chances are that you’re going to start thinking about something a little darker than meta tags. So as much as Google hates the supposedly unethical methods that the black hats employ, they’re sure as hell forcing all of it to happen aren’t they? Otherwise you’ll just sit back and watch your life fall apart.
Everyone games the system on some level. That’s what makes this all so enjoyable. I mean really, if writing content about how great your women’s dresses are is truly that stimulating, you may need to lessen the amount of drugs that you ingest and stop listening to Enya all damn day. Or just get all dolled up in something frilly and get over it…the basics of SEO are honestly not that exciting, no matter what many white hats say. The fact that we may have to rewrite the basics IS exciting, though. I’m really quite sick of meta tags anyway.
Back in the day when I cloaked every site I worked on, I had fun. I even giggled with glee when I got my first site banned because I was excited by the challenge of getting it relisted. Some people argued that I cloaked because I couldn’t compete without using black hat techniques, but the fact is that I thought it was the best idea at the time in order to get good rankings in Google, since all my sites sucked a duck’s arse back then. When you’re dealing with a 4 page site with no text and a homepage consisting of nothing more than an image, cloaking is really, really appealing. Especially when it got number one rankings and massive amounts of traffic. So let me ask you this…if the Google algorithm was built to rank you due to your inbound links, why was I so easily able to get number one rankings without having more than 3 relevant inbounds? I could easily outrank sites that had tons of links, tons of content, etc. just with keyword stuffing the beJaysus out of a few cloaked pages. Talk about gaming the system…and thus we have yet another hole in the Google algorithm. Technically speaking, Google made me cloak. Ahem.
The links thing is quite possibly Google’s biggest hole at the moment, but they’re certainly doing everything in their power to fix that. It’s making us all have to THINK too, which is nice, for once. However, when they start devaluing the fundamental things that one does in order to build the foundation of an SEO campaign, that’s when it’s seriously apparent that things aren’t going so well on their end. And I love it, honestly. It’s hard to be white hat all the way right now, and it’s getting even harder with each little tweak of the algorithm. What’s going to be the next argument then? Social vs. mobile media? How will we sling THAT mud? I can’t wait to find out.