A regular dosing of Penguin updates over the past couple years has sent a clear message to webmasters about automated “Black hat” link building, but has Google now over stepped the mark and become an internet dictator with their recent retribution on manual “white hat” link building efforts such as guest blogging, press releases and article marketing?
Since there are virtually no more “Google-approved” SEO link building techniques left, where does that leave SEO and what will become of the thousands who have chosen an SEO career path?
Google Declares War on SEO
Devaluing or, more frequently these days, punishing websites associated with so called “unnatural” link profiles is at the heart of Google’s current agenda and has been for quite a while now. The unfortunate reality for all SEOs is that ‘link building’ is the backbone of what we do. By punishing SEO link building, Google would seem to be attempting to wipe out the entire SEO industry. Google’s Matt Cutts has stated that Google are trying to make it so that webmasters don’t need to do SEO. But, judging from recent Google activity, it seems more likely that Google are simply trying to stop webmasters from doing SEO.
It was in this very vein of action that Google very recently kicked myblogguest.com out of the SERPs. Before that, seoclerks.com got the boot.
Both these sites actually have very strong, natural backlink profiles. They were manually banned from the SERPs, simply because they facilitate an activity that internet dictator Google doesn’t agree with i.e. link building. It’s the same kind of manual ban that we’ve seen Google traditionally apply to sites containing illegal content. SEO isn’t illegal so why treat it the same?
Does this not fly in the face of what is probably the most fundamental principle of the internet, “the free flow of information and access for all”?Do Google, as the gateway to the internet, not have a responsibility to ensure these values are upheld within the limits of the law rather than the limits of what suits their agenda? Evidently they don’t think so. It wouldn’t surprise me if Google looked unfavourably upon this very blog post and decided to make it just disappear from the SERPs like China would a political or religious activist such as Cao Shunli.
Both SEO Clerks and My Blog Guest are established companies set up to facilitate SEO related activities. Sound familiar? What do SEO companies do?
If you are the owner of, or employed by an SEO company you certainly have reason to be concerned because your livelihood could be next on Google’s hit list. It may not happen today, tomorrow or for years to come but eventually the day may come when Kim Jong-Google starts striking out at the websites of service lead companies that provide SEO.
Zero Tolerance for SEO
It’s not just sites facilitating link building that are being expelled by Google. Right now, as many readers will know, Google’s primary target is the websites with the unnatural link profiles and the websites and blogs that make up those unnatural link profiles.
According to Barry Schwartz from search Engine Land, publishers listed on ‘My Blog Guest’ have lost rankings and received Webmaster notifications since My Blog Guest got hit. This just adds to the ever growing thousands of other webmasters worldwide who have already had their sites banished for building links or accepting articles with links over the years.
In July 2013, Google Engineer John Mueller stated in a Video Hangout “When we think that links were placed by the webmaster themselves, then that’s something that we would consider being unnatural”.
This statement is the epitome of where Google are at right now. By implication, any link that was created to help rankings is ‘unnatural’ aka bad. So how does Google determine intent? Well that’s something you can read more about here.
The message we can take from all this is that Google has an absolute zero tolerance for SEO link building in any way shape or form.
Long gone are the days when Black hat SEO was characterised as shady link building via automated methods using spun content, while white hat was once all about creating similar links manually with quality hand written content. These definitions are archaic. All SEO link building is now actively being castigated by Cutts and Co.
By taking this stance against all forms of SEO link building, Google have given SEOs a massive fingers up. They have moved the goal posts and taken everything we once knew as “white hat” and rebranded it as “Black hat” thus turning those of us who do SEO for a living into search engine outlaws.
It Doesn’t Matter if You’re Black or White
I personally have never cared much for the phrases ‘black hat’ or ‘white hat’ or their associated connotations. For me, SEO has only ever been about what works and what doesn’t. For too long the SEO community have comforted themselves in a warm bath of mythical misconception believing in imaginary boundaries between the two brands of SEO – good Vs. evil. It’s high time to wake up and realise there are no colours or indeed morals involved when it comes to SEO any more than there are morals when it comes to mathematics. It’s purely about problem solving – finding out what works and what doesn’t. And what works now is stealth.
The Final Solution
Although Kim Jong Google is trying to commit SEO genocide their success hinges on footprints left by sloppy link building. By ensuring that the links you generate are totally undetectable as intentional, you’ll be able to safe-guard your client’s interests as well as your own.
Many SEOs have already been caught out and as Google tightens the reigns there will undoubtedly be many more casualties in the future. So make sure you’re not one of them.
My next post will cover stealthy link building strategies and will teach you how to avoid leaving any footprints when building links.
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