Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Google's view of search engine optimization (SEO)

With the addition of this document to their website, the people at Google appear to be trying to frighten people away from search engine optimization altogether. Although they say that "Many SEOs provide useful services for website owners", they finish the sentence by describing the range of what those useful services are:- "from writing copy to giving advice on site architecture and helping to find relevant directories to which a site can be submitted".

They say that an SEO's useful services include:- writing copy, giving advice on site architecture and helping to find relevant directories.... These can be part of search engine optimization, of course, but they are not what is widely understood by the term search engine optimization; i.e. optimizing pages to rank highly. Even writing copy doesn't suggest anything to do with seo copywriting, and giving advice on site architecture is to do with website design and not search engine optimization, although an SEO can advise on it with respect to crawling.

It is quite clear what sort of things Google considers to be SEO, and it isn't anything to do with optimizing or, if it is, it's only on the fringe of optimizing.

The document goes on to say, "there are a few unethical SEOs who have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to unfairly manipulate search engine results". The implication is that search engine optimizers who go further than the sort of things that Google mentions, and actually optimize pages to improve rankings (manipulate search results), are unethical. Google clearly views any sort of optimizing to improve rankings as unethical.

Later in the document, Google lists a number 'credentials' that reputable search engine optimizers should have. In Google's view, a search engine optimization company should employ a reasonable number of staff (individual SEOs are not reputable), they should offer "a full and unconditional money-back guarantee", they should report "every spam abuse that it finds to Google", and more, and they warn people against those who don't measure up. But there isn't a search engine optimizer in the world, individual or company, who doesn't fall foul of Google's 'credentials'. There are people who can write copy (not seo copy), advise on site structure and even find directories to submit to, but they aren't search engine optimizers and, in terms of rankings, they are of limited value.

The purpose of search engine optimization is to improve a website's rankings. Google see that as manipulating the search results, and they don't approve. The impression given by their document is that they are trying hard to scare website owners into not employing search engine optimization services to improve their website's rankings. That, in my opinion, is unethical.
Sonika Mishra
SEO Expert Delhi


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