Google does NOT hate SEO, or so they say

This is interesting, in this video on Matt Cutts blog (scroll down to find it, it’s called PubCon 2009 talk: State of the Index, MC talks about how Google don’t hate SEO, relevant bit starts at 19.30).

This is a bit disingenious by MC in my opinion and it’s because of their definition of SEO, they’re trying to put a spin on what SEO actually is. Last year they released an ‘SEO guide’ and MC talks about what’s in that as being good, a way to make sure that Google can crawl your site etc etc. So, what they’re saying then is that anything in the guide is ‘white hat’ and ok and it’s SEO and actually it’s not. What it is is a guide to building a well structured site and doesn’t include any of the stuff that Google don’t want you to do, like link building. None of what’s in the guide gets you a good ranking, it just ensures that your site can be indexed, they just fail to mention that bit.

If that’s what SEO is and you’re happy with that definition then hey, Google don’t mind it. I don’t think it is though, I think that SEO is about improving the volume and quality of traffic to your site from search engines, and that doesn’t happen because I got my H tags right, it happens because I know what the ranking signals are and can provide Google with what it’s looking for, off-site, and THAT’S what Google don’t want you doing because it’s manipulating their search algo, it can result in the SERP being full of spam and they don’t want to serve up spam to their users.

Don’t fall for this, Google do NOT like SEO, they just like well built, useful search engine friendly websites.

I guess I tend to side with Google on this. To me there’s a difference between “optimization” and “manipulation”.

Then I guess we either ought to rename this forum to ‘IMT’ (Index manipulation Techniques, or similar) since that’s mostly what we discuss here and we should stop all these terribly off topic threads that discuss things like link building since they have nothing to do with optimising a site for search engines right?

SEO is:

  1. Improving volumes and quality of traffic from search engines AND building a properly structured and coded site

  2. Just improving volumes and quality of traffic from search engines

  3. Just building a properly structured and coded site

Only one option 3 fits what Matt Cutts was saying so somewhere along the line, something got scwewed up wabbit.

I think I kind of see what you’re saying. You include “results” as part of “optimization” where MC doesn’t. I think this is because he is seeing from the perspective of the search engine (and solely that), where most everybody else sees from the perspective of the search results (which includes what he considers SEO).

I guess my thinking is
1: put the content “out there”
2: let the links come as they may

If the content is worthy of being linked to, it seems it should happen on it’s own.
Perhaps “manipulation” is a bit harsh, and I quess the “getting it out there” part is open to interpretation, and I couldn’t say at what point the “line” is crossed from letting the “market” decide to gaming the system.

Not quite, what Google want is what you said about “1: put the content “out there” 2: let the links come as they may”, in other words, if you rank well it’s because you genuinely deserve to.

Unfortunately for google, there are people who try to understand how the algorithms work so that they can force rankings, and that’s what google doesn’t want. So they release this so called ‘SEO’ guide and say that ‘they don’t hate SEO’ but the thing they’re actually talking about isn’t really SEO. They’re talking about building sites well so that search engines can crawl and understand them and that’s what I call ‘search engine friendly’. I suppose you could call it ‘optimised’ too but their definition doesn’t include building your own links and all that other stuff that gets rankings that might not be genuinely deserved.

So, if the stuff they don’t like us doing isn’t SEO, then what is it?


search engine gaming

It seems to be a question of ethics. Say I start a new site. It’s well written, has semantic mark-up, good navigation, and an xml sitemap that I’ve submitted to the search engine(s).

OK, so it’s “out there”, but as it’s new, it might not show up in search results. So I post articles on other sites to increase it’s visibilty and get it “more out there”. If I’m not posting backlinks is it then OK even though links would help those interested in going to my site? If I post with backlinks is it then gaming the search engine(s)? Is one external site article OK, 10, 100, etc?

And at what point do I consider the site to be “out there” enough? When I get 100 visits a day, 1,000, 10,000 etc? At what point are backlinks I’m creating no longer OK in the eyes of Google, and I should let the “market” do it’s thing?

Human greed seems to be a common trait, but it’s not something I want to judge others on. Sometimes a site is obviously not authoritative and doesn’t deserve high visibilty, and I guess they shouldn’t try to best what I would consider better sites, but maybe they really think they’re better? Only an individual knows in his heart what his motives are. Sure if it’s a splog with stolen content and a bunch of ads it’s obvious, but the area between total cr*p and great is very wide.

I think someone is confusing SEO with marketing.

How so? I don’t think that’s what’s happening and in any case, SEO is part of marketing so it wouldn’t really matter if they were.

What’s happening is that whilst SEO includes making sure a site is search engine friendly and can be crawled and indexed etc, I think SEO goes beyond that to include things that Google doesn’t want us to do, like link building, and they’re trying to muddy the water by defining SEO themselves as the things that they DO want us to do and just failing to mention the things they don’t want us to do.

At best you could say that Google Do hate SOME parts of SEO, but to say they don’t hate SEO at all is just not true unless we redefine what SEO is.

I agree that Google hate some parts of SEO, the problem with making statements like they have is that they are subjectively describing a practice which is in itself very loosely defined. SEO in a practical sense is as esoteric as voodoo, it’s totally impractical to say that they have a position on a practice which is not so much a select amount of consistently defined practices, more a mixture of actions based on superstition. To claim they don’t hate SEO by default is to claim that they have no problem with the activities undertaken by those who practice it (whether for manipulative or other purposes). :slight_smile:

Unless they have their own definition of SEO, which is my whole point. They’re disingeniously trying to define SEO as only including the things they don’t have a problem with.

Well I would say on that note that what they define as SEO isn’t actually SEO (which invalidates their comments purely in the context of incorrect usage of terms), more a statement implied with the best interests. And I can see there could be some fallout as a result, where the comments may be repeated (till the point of illness) by those who manipulate and use the statement as some kind of justification (almost in the extremist religious sense). I guess it’s more FUD for the fire!

Hmmm… putting Googles head on for a minute if we were in their position.

We’ve built this fab search engine that’s indexed billions of web pages, we’ve applied our own algorythmns, and done lots of number crunching to show the best possible results for our users search queries.

All is going well but then some site owners start tweaking their sites to be more “relevant” than the guy above and thus get higher search result positions. That’s fine but we noticed a lot of irrelevant or poor quality sites appearing in top positions - not good for our users, so we rewrite our end to change some of the calculations to try and reduce the number of irrelevant pages because our users want relevant results.

And so it becomes an ongoing battle between honouring good “SEO”, weeding out the rubbish, and giving users the best possible relevant results.

Given that scenario, and that fact you’re running a business to make a profit, what would you do?

That is besides the point, Google are making a claim which inappropriately says that they don’t have a problem with the people spreading the rubbish (through the manipulative terms). Making such a statement is not only foolish (in respects to what they are claiming they aren’t against), it now gives every joker who wants to call themselves an SEO expert a justification for their techniques, claiming that Google says it’s all “fairies and unicorns and sugar and spice!”. :slight_smile:

Ah but they’re not.

They’ve released this so called ‘SEO guide’ which is in fact simply a guide to building a well structured page and doesn’t include anything which would then artificially boost the rankings of that page. If they’d called that guide anything else, no one would have bothered reading it. So in a way, to judge what they’re doing we have to agree on what SEO actually is and this is the defintiion that I subscribe to:

SEO is increasing the volume or quality of traffic to a website from search engines

Now you’re definitely not going to do that just by having a search engine friendly page and that’s why I don’t think their definition is what SEO really is. How you perform SEO though is an entirely different matter.