Grey Hat SEO – Adding Zero Value
Usually Google does not announce what it is going to do, at least not openly. Last week at SXSW however Google search quality god Matt Cutts announced that Google will be looking at penalizing sites that are “over-optimized” for SEO. It’s hard to say exactly what that means, but he seems to imply that sites that seem to have too many keywords on a page or sites with an abnormal amount of links will be victims.
The statement was a response to a question concerning small websites that don’t have the resources to follow all of the SEO industry changes and continually optimize their site. This has long been an interesting problem: if your site is great should it really need to be optimized? For me, part of being a great site is being optimized to a certain extent, but that is a whole different topic.
What I wanted to quickly touch on here is the concept of an entire industry built around SEO. Specifically industry that is built upon algorithmic concepts like link-building or generating lots of content. It’s one thing to attempt to get your website and your business value visible, it’s another activity entirely to have an end-goal of gaming an algorithm. And companies that offer to generate links or content for your site are not really providing any value to anyone. In fact, they are generating tons of bad information – useless content that has no demand, artificial online relationships that exist solely for the benefit of page ranking rather than being of useful value to surfers on the web.
In economics terms, this is creating a supply where there is no demand. So while it may not be explicitly black hat in terms of the quality of the content, it’s definitely not creating any value that people are interested in.
This week one of these types of businesses, BuildMyRank.com, found itself de-indexed from Google and candidly blogged about its demise. I am not sure sure what the motivation is here for them, maybe to spark industry conversation, or maybe they intend to set up shop at a new address and want to be open about it. Another interesting angle may be to generate publicity around this event to see if they can’t get back in the index. But whatever the reason I think we can potentially view this as a victim of Google’s counter-attack on over-optimization.
People often talk of the dangers of gaming the search engines, but rarely do you see it happening so openly. I like seeing businesses that are not adding real value going down in the marketplace. It means a better web for all of us in the long run.