Between the tragedy at Virginia Tech yesterday, a few headaches here at work, and the fact I had to send in a check for taxes, I was glad to finally turn off my lights and put yesterday in the books. It was quite an emotional day for many I am sure. To all of those with children, friends, relatives and fellow classmates attending VaTech, our prayers are with you, and we pray you find peace from such a senseless act. This tragedy has scarred many, and abruptly and unfairly ended many bright futures, to the despair of any decent human. There is no understanding a situation like this, I wish it wasn’t now a part of our country’s history. It is something I don’t want my kids to have to learn about, it is heart wrenching, it is sad.
Now on to far less important matters. In SEO land there continues to be a conundrum concerning Google’s decision to discount the ranking influence of paid links. I wanted to throw out a few thoughts at this comparatively insignificant mess. Firstly, I must say I was impressed with Michael’s reaction to the announcement, as he took the “problem” head on from a programming standpoint. He masterfully came up with an insightful solution. The code Michael offered is an excellent way for those providing SEO services to still get the ranking results they crave from paid links, by not allowing Google to “know” they are paying for links, while it also offered full disclosure to the public (as required by law) that the link was a paid link. I really liked the solution, it was pro-active and effective. I also agree it is not our responsibility to assist a public company improve the manner in which they rank sites. If Google wants to discount the referral power of a paid link, and they feel it is better for their search clients overall, then that is exactly what they should do, but it is up to them to create the system. The public should not necessarily rush to comply with these requests and make Google’s job any easier, even if it was a good idea. Google came up with the algo which put them at the top of the search heap, so let them continue to refine their system to deliver the results they feel are most relevant to their clients, with or without the public’s help. That is Google’s original purpose as a company, to provide an algo which offered better search results than the competitors, so please Google, continue to improve your core competency. It is a simple Business 101 principle.
What I don’t understand is the upheaval against Google, I have blogged about this previously, so can I finally get some cheese with all this whine? I have no problem with Google asking for help from the public, why should anyone? It is a free country, and frankly a smart business move. It is far cheaper to have a free work force sending in possible sites with paid links, then to have little Googlers scouring the web to identify all the paid links themselves, especially with some very intelligent SEO folks out there attempting to hide them. Additionally, if the public wants to give Google the heads up, again, it’s a free country. And if Google is dumb enough to instantly punish sites based on a referral from the public, before doing any research to confirm the paid link claim, then they can go right ahead and do that as well, but it would be very, very bad for business. It is business, we are all free to screw up as bad as we can in the marketplace, it is our choice in a free economy. If Google begins to act like they know it all in search, and they feel the public is just going to sit there and take them shoving bad new policies down our throats, Google will eventually fail. This eventuality is based on years of history, and the natural order of things in the business world. No one company has enough money to just push the public around indefinitely, we eventually get sick of it and go somewhere else. If Google wants play the arrogant fool, and sees their cash on hand as a license to stop listening to the search public, they will fall from search grace. The free market has continually punished pig-headed companies which make these types of ignorant assumptions.
As to the revolt and ire by some who are spewing at Google’s announcement, I guess it is predictable. Rants and converse opinions can make for great posts, and controversy is a nice form of link bait. But in the end the reality is Google can do whatever they want, they have earned the right, which was awarded to them by the search public. Perhaps many are blogging their upset to stir up the search public with their cries of injustice against Google. It isn’t a bad strategy, but it will need to be a bit more organized to be effective, since barely anyone in the real world know SEOs exist, so any effort to change the search public’s opinion will have very little influence in the current era. As I see it, it will always boil down to “is Google delivering me the results I need?” Search clients don’t really care about all the rest of this noise, most don’t even know Google made an announcement, or that anyone has been frantically typing about it for a few days. As long as search clients find what they are looking for, quickly, and on the first SERP, then they will continue to be happy, and switching to Yahoo, or Ask or anyone else as their SE of choice isn’t going to happen. It is human nature. If it ain’t broke, or if I don’t know it ain’t broke, I’m not going to lift a finger to fix it. That is the current search reality.