Anti-Google claims: to reply or not?

Last week, Aaron Wall had a guest post on Search Engine Land that originally had the headline “How To Buy A #1 Organic Search Ranking On Google.” Then today I was reading Aaron Wall’s guest post on Google Blogoscoped where he makes a couple unusual claims, such as that “SEO = spam” in Google’s opinion (simply not true). Aaron has been doing so many anti-Google posts since around July that other people started to notice several weeks ago.

Suffice it to say that in my opinion there is another side to Aaron’s story. I’m on the fence about whether to talk about the specifics of what’s going on with Aaron. What do people think?

{democracy:5}

Update November 19, 2007: Thanks to everyone that gave feedback about this. I added a comment that talks about the situation some from a search engine viewpoint, without mentioning specific sites by name.

295 Responses to Anti-Google claims: to reply or not? (Leave a comment)

  1. Aaron is a super smart and a very passionate kid. I have no doubt there is more to the story =P. The back and fourth really does not matter. It might help him with some book sales but I think someone like Aaron google would want to definitely follow up with and see what the core issue is. Just my 2 cents ;)

  2. Marc

    Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?

    These go to eleven.

  3. If you start down this road, do you really have the time and energy to stay on it? because believe me, it will get worse before it gets better (IF it gets better)

  4. Aarons main gripe with Google seems to be the fact one of his sites received a penalty without anybody giving him a reason.

    If you want to stop the anti Google posts why not just tell everybody (or Aaron in private) why the site got a penalty?

    While we are on the subject why not start confirming penalties on more sites? Would it do any harm for you to say “Your site has a penalty for too many affiliate links” or “Your site has a penalty for selling links”.

    Why keep everybody guessing all the time?

  5. If you’re going to reply, Matt, it’s worth noting that Aaron’s hardly the only writer/blogger/person with Google in his cross-hairs lately. You’re right that he’s been hitting G hard for several months, but his is not the only voice out there.

    That said, I do think transparency is just about always the best option, so if that means you join the conversation, go for it.

  6. I’d say respond to the issues, but don’t respond to individuals.

  7. I don’t really think his claims are worth responding to, but the snarky comment had to get my vote. :)

  8. Don’t respond to him specifically . . . don’t reference is blog, etc. Instead, write blog posts that state the truth and touch upon some of his points without referencing them. This way the misinformation is stopped but linkbait is not achieved by those spreading misinformation.

  9. JLH

    You just know where the voting is going to go on this one. I haven’t read all of his bashing, but I’d be interested in seeing some answers.

    I’ve done my share of Google bashing, but it usually comes from duplicity of statements, do-as-i-say-not-as-i-do kind of things, but very rarely on the quality of Google’s results (except for the unearthly wiki-love). Do I get a response? No, of course not, I’m an unknown, but when someone who is well known makes claims I almost feel like you have to run some sort of damage control.

    I’d caution against too much passion and just sticking to the facts which are easily verifiable by other parties. Using super-secret google spam fighting tools to generate an example may be right, but if it’s not something your readers can click on to verify some of the argument may get lost in the black-box googleness.

    My guess is that the majority of bashing out there comes from either ever changing policies or just plain confusion on the issues. You’ve become/are the leader (like it or not) in describing policies and straighting out confusion with regards to Google, so it only makes sense that this would be the forum that would have the most chance of getting the word out. As apposed to a private letter, unattributed sourced story by SEL, official blog post etc.

    Good luck, either way you decide to handle it.

  10. I’d just contact Aaron privately and see if you can work out the details.

  11. SEO industry, as a whole, is anti-Google and will forever be anti-Google – not out of spite but simply due to conflict of interest.

    Even if you are 100% right, whatever you say, 90% of the people in the search marketing industry will disagree with you.

    I’ve questioned his marketing tactics (see http://sphinn.com/story/12344) recently but I doubt he will veer away from his present course.

  12. “I believe if Google took some action, it was probably reasonable,” – a lot of people would agree with this in general, but it would be really nice to know what the actions were, and better yet, what were the reasons behind them. Not necessarily against one particular site, though. With all the guessing about G’s algorithm updates and new policies since late September, it won’t hurt to hear something official from Google :-)

  13. I can’t believe how easily you got suckered into linking to that relatively rubbish article!

  14. By responding to Aaron, you are responding to lots of folks…which is in line with your “outreach” to the webmaster community. I vote yes.

  15. Hi Matt, I think it is worth replying once to Aaron with a clear and concise answer to his claims and then leave it at that. If you figure the followup after that point is worthwhile then great.

    As for the other notes on this post… I firmly agree that Google needs to be more transparent. Google’s card holding does seem to imply that SEOs are the enemy. But really a properly optimized website is designed only to deliver the best possible content for users AND search engines such as Google to index and hopefully rank well. If it has excellent content what is the problem? If you shared more often why particular sites are getting penalized I don’t see how that can hurt Google… it only furthers the pursuit of a better index.

    Anyway that is my two pence. Thanks for asking ;-)

  16. Ok, just out of curiosity, why are you claiming that the SEL post is actually anti-Google? That just seems like good insight, regardless of what his sentiments might be. Was it edited, and said more before?

    (I haven’t read the rest yet, just noticed that one first)

  17. fathom

    Who’s Aaron Wall? …some guy that got booted out of the military.

    Why’d you change the advance search commands a while back? 90%+ of your targeted users didn’t use them. Isn’t that the correct answer?

    99.99% of the available market doesn’t listen to Aaron Wall.

  18. Oh, and Matt, by the way… if you wanted to guest blog on Smackdown for this (since, you know, the rules about being friendly are lower there than here), you just let me know ;)

  19. Justin

    You really should respond because a lot of techies read Aaron Wall and highly respect his opinions (not just SEOs btw). He’s a major influencer, totally ignoring him looks stuck up and doesn’t help your cause. You should address his concerns with sincerity (not poke fun at him). His posts aren’t usually making fun of anyone, they are serious critiques. They deserve a serious response, if any.
    I used to be 100% pro Google but I have to say that his arguments have started to make me wonder what is going over there. Help Google defend itself. I really want to like Google, you do some truly awesome stuff!

  20. I vote yes. A well balanced response would help many Webmasters, and perhaps even Google. ;)

  21. I would definitely like to hear specifics. Concrete examples with facts are soooo much more helpful than general guidelines.

  22. Hi Matt:

    Aaron has his opinions and facts. You have your opinions and facts. What would be the harm in responding to Aaron’s posts? If you have the energy to see it through – I believe more good will result than bad. I’ve been following Aaron Wall and you for quite some time now. I have high opinions of both of you. However, if your are unable to freely express yourself (i.e. Google restrictions) – then it might not be worth the effort. Regardless, any way you look at it – Aaron Wall is highly respected among many internet communities – not just SEO – he’s a great guy and he’s helped a lot of people. His Google posts aren’t going away soon. Also, regarding your third option – Aaron is not in need of the great publicity or link bait – he’s “set for life” as it is – so that’s not even an issue.

    Thanks for the opportunity to give my two cents.

    Regardless of what you decide with Aaron – one thing you must do is try to “clear the air” regarding a lot of the “issues” buzzing around Google. Nobody likes to feel as though they are being treated differently – simply because they’re small..

  23. Aaron (No, not that one)

    If you do choose to engage in this type of debate, can I get equal time if I implicate you in a wacky conspiracy theory of my own?

    “The appearance of video on Google SERPs is just a toehold for Google’s nefarious plans – Matt Cutts is trying to classify all non-YouTube content as spam, as part of Google’s push for an all-video Internet.” That’s off the top of my head. I can come up with some doozies.

    How about a conspiracy between Internet supervillains? “Matt Cutts in secret negotiations to bring DMOZ meta editors into Google’s anti-SPAM team, to hand-edit the SERPs”.

    And then we can start “Round 2″ with a follow-up post where I misrepresent everything you said in response to the original, or say that I got a private email from you that I can’t discuss… beyond noting that you confirmed everything I said and that Google would fire you if you tell the truth in public.

    We can have so much fun… ;-)

  24. As a non-geek struggling with my own blog, which has suffered a massive drop in Google juice earlier this year (due to a change from Movable Type to WordPress) and is trying to understand why, I’d love to hear anything from Google people about SEO. Aaron may be a thorn in your side, but he’s the one person so far who’s actually given me some help in realising why my site was struggling and what to do about it – re-examining my URL structure and reconciling my new WP URLs to what they used to be with MT – which I’ve just undertaken to do.

    He’s been helpful to me, an average blogger, when answers were hard to come by. I think he deserves the response.

  25. Perhaps at the next conference you guys can fight it out at one of the Webmasters Radio parties.

  26. I appreciate all the different viewpoints in the comments. Thanks, everyone. fathom, let’s keep the quality of discourse high — please don’t go down the path of insults or I’ll remove your comments.

  27. grasshopper

    matt, i think you should respond however *you feel* is most appropriate. allowing your response to be dictated by consensus goes against the grain of participating in an honest conversation.

  28. I’d love to see a response to Aaron’s complaints. Snarky or polite … I don’t really care (although snarky is a hell of a lot more fun). The most important thing to me is that you’re as honest and as detailed as humanly possible. As Patrick Altoft said above, “Why keep everybody guessing all the time?”

  29. As a number of folks have already said, it’s not just Aaron who has a rather negative view of all things Google right now.

    I’m with Patrick Altoft on this one. I think the more information you feed back to webmasters either directly (i.e. via Webmaster Tools) or through your site or, perhaps more importantly, an official Google site, the less Google bashing there’ll be.

    As Matt McGee says above, transparency is the best option. A lot of the current Google bashing – mine included – is based on an interpretation of what is happening because there is no official response from within the Plex.

  30. Sebastian

    I would prefer if you would investigate why he did not get a notification in Google’s webmaster central. Revealing that would help a lot Webmasters out (maybe even him) and could improve Google’s service.
    Win-(Win-)Win-situation. Sounds good, dosen’t it?

  31. I would say respond, but to the general SEO crowd. Don’t say you are responding to any one person…

  32. I do some SEO part time for my own non-profit site. I’m a subscriber of this blog, SEOmoz and Aaron Wall’s, and a few others. I try to learn as much as my time allows.

    Overall I like Google a lot and appreciate the Webmaster central and analytics and other tools.

    I felt uneasy at the virulence of Aaron’s posts but I would like to hear your side of the story on his repeated attacks.

    I do agree with Halfdeck who says that there is not way Google will totally please the SEO industry. My take is when many sites go down in PR or in the SERPS some others go up.

    If this brings a better search experience for the users then everybody wins except aggressive SEO experts.

  33. I thought Aarons post on GB pretty much spelled put the backstory that he had a domain he invested in that got wiped out, which also seems to have sparked more Google criticism on his SEOBook blog than in the past. Bit maybe theres more and if so then I’d would like to see Aaron himself put it out there. That said he still often makes some valid and insightful comments regardless of the whatever particular issue he has with Google. FYI I may comment more but am on my phine right now and also can’t see my punctuation keys well. For the record as editor, I added one bit of qualification to the end of his column at SEL and then further qualified the headline that’s the () part you see after Matt contacted me with concerns and because I aslo felt some further qualification would help the piece. I made an edit to the lead to better clarify he was talking about Google and Ill further explain the changes and why since its now being raised as an issue. I don’t think any of Aarons intent or commentary was hurt by these and as a column, I think he’s fine offering up his opinions in the same way I would welcome Matt doing the same despite his own inherent biases to Google.

  34. j

    Why would you not respond? Are you going to go with SEOmoz tactic/suggestion not to respond to allegations?

  35. I’d go with Linden and Payne .. respond but without giving him the link juice in return. That is probably exactly what he is fishing for. I do not know him, have read some of stuff, bought his ebook and read half of it, but it seems to me that there is a lot of Google bashing that is just going for link bait and trying to get at the top on Sphinn. I can’t say that for sure he is just going for link bait, because maybe he believes every word of what he says … I do know I like to hear both sides of every story.

  36. I wouldn’t mind seeing a response as well. I understand how it can be frustrating when a site isn’t indexed. It happened to one of my sites and after 18 months it is finally getting fully indexed and it’s an above the board site.

    Matt, I’d also like to ask you to join me in a podcast! I can’t find your email address so this was the best way for me to contact you. The podcast is for the site listed in my url and you can contact me by email and I will send you more details. This might be a great way to clear the air :D

    -Sara(ses5909)

  37. @Matt,

    After reading Danny’s comment, I went back and looked at what you said again:

    I’m on the fence about whether to talk about the specifics of what’s going on with Aaron.

    If you were talking about discussing Aaron’s motives, and had no intention of dealing with any the the facts he stated, then I would highly suggest not going that route at all. If you were just going to argue the merits of his claims, then of course by all means do so.

  38. At the center of the issue is “penalization without explanation”. We all know that hundreds of factors go into rankings. When a site gets obviously slapped within the most powerful search engine on the planet, it stings. No explanation makes it hurt even more.

    To make matters ever worse, self proclaimed experts muddy the waters by publishing misinformation and speculation based on opinions and not facts.

    Google could avoid issues such as this by further improving guideline explanations.

    For example, in my line of business, we help webmasters maintain link building campaigns with editor based software. Over the past three months, we have received countless number of questions regarding Google’s recently updated guideline regarding “excessive reciprocal linking”. You and I know what “excessive reciprocal linking” is but newbie webmaster does not. Google should explain the difference between “full duplex link exchange” and “editor based link exchange for the end user”. Explain why you state that “excessive reciprocal linking” is discouraged. We all know that Google updated the guideline on link exchange to include the word “excessive” but explain why this occured instead of letting the pundits make up their own explanations. In my opinion, there is lots of room for improvement when it comes to explaining Google’s webmaster guidelines.

    I don’t necessarily agree with Aaron’s method of communication but its obvious he’s exasperated by the lack of understanding as to why his site(s) are penalized. I understand his frustration as I get calls every day from webmasters who are trying to make sense of all of the misinformation that floats around on today’s web.

    If Google wants to avoid issues like this in the future, Google should strive to do a better job of explaning to webmasters the reasons behind the guidelines. Lord knows the big G has plenty of resources to make it happen.

  39. Hey there dude… long time no chat….

    I don’t comment here all that often and I am sure you understand the reasoning. I am sitting here, tired, grumpy and jaded having a few pints and saw your post in my reader and thought ‘ that’s a weird post’.. and here I am.

    As some one mentioned already, A-Wall (AWOL?) isn’t exactly the only (high profile) bloke to be ranting and I am sure you’re aware of this. You are also quite aware that you could respond in many ways outside of polling the masses to make up your mind for you. The last time I checked you mantra is that this is YOUR space and not officially the Google ‘spokesman’ page. As such, I can’t see how any of this serves a purpose?

    It certainly will be a boon for ol Aaron and replying to it may even spark and entire wave of anti-Google posts among the A-list SEO’s in hope of getting some free publicity for themselves. This opens the door to ‘Matt Baiting’ once more.

    What gets me and what made me drop by and actually put in my 2c (Canadian) is that I am pretty sure you know all of this. Regardless if it is the company line or your personal feelings on the matter, simply get on with it. Are we trying to placate AWOL with this? Some publicity is as good as gold and you know it. As far as I can tell, this is just another sonnet playing for the 21st century ‘Google Dance’ and if you’re looking for partners, there is no lack of them out there to do the 2 step with. Bah humbug…

    Yours truly and still yer mate… though jaded, Dave…..

  40. Always 2-side to a story, yes. But Aaron is clearly getting his side heard the loudest at the moment.

    I can see his comment on t-shirts already, “I am an SEO so I am scum”

  41. Go jogging, instead. You went out of your way for this guy, and feel a little betrayed… this guy put money and time into something that got destroyed and feels the same way. No need to air out the dirty laundry in public. If it’s personal… go see him, if it’s professional… go jogging and then go back to work.

    If you want to address his concerns do so… generally. If you want to make it personal you will have to address each and every one of his complaints. Is it possible? It is worth it?

  42. Matt and fellow readers. I think we need to refocus on some Google’s values. I always assumed one of Google’s rules was “Don’t be Evil” when after checking it really is “You can make money without doing evil.”. It’s number 6 here (http://www.google.com/corporate/tenthings.html).

    After recently getting into it with Google’s Adwords Support, I’ve come to realize that Google has many policies that they don’t publish and can’t really refer to. A response to Aaron would help everybody’s faith in Google. I also expect Google to take the high road and be open and honest with the community. While Google isn’t compelled to not “be evil” like I once thought, to dispel these “evil” rumors Google should address them openly when opinions get as large of a following as Aaron’s has.

    J. Geiger

  43. Ouch Joel. “Link building campaigns” ? I wouldn’t dare link to anything icky like that!

    Anyway, I don’t get it. If one of the all-time great SEO’s gets a penalty/ban/whatever, shouldn’t he know exactly what’s the matter?

    And if he doesn’t, does that mean that:
    1) He’s not that great a SEO after all (hmmm)
    2) Or… his issues were caused by an irrational hand-job or by a new fuzzy algo thingie of some sort.

    In both cases, I’d love to read your comments, Matt. Please don’t hold out :-)

  44. Just by mentioning his name here you helped to sell his few books. I don’t know if it’s worth to make him more popular. All to all everybody can have own option about Google. I’m not a big fan of G too.

  45. I suggest you contact Aaron privately and work out the details.

  46. I also cast a vote for letting the posts *ZING*! However, like many have mentioned before me, I think it would be better for Google as a whole to address the issues, not the person. It is not worth the hassle. You should never address the person publicly anyhow. Folks as vocal as he is would likely take offense to it. Just my two cents… Take the high road!

  47. Aaron has the right to say and write what he thinks. Free speech should be the right of anyone. If you think you should reply to his criticism, just do it. It’s your responsibility not the one of your readers.
    Google aims to regulate the Web and abuses it’s power, that’s what I think.

  48. This is not really worth public comment. People in the SEO community are going to get steamed at Google every now and then.

    Are you going to drop everything and respond to every complaint or are you just giving Aaron some special time?

    Frankly, I could care less about his gripes. I’d rather you take on something substantial, like what you’re doing to help Supplemental Results pages rank in queries WHEN THEY ARE MORE RELEVANT than pages in the Main Web Index.
    :)

  49. @Geiger – just so you know, you were right the first time, it ‘s Google’s unofficial motto to “Don’t Be Evil”:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don't_be_evil

    What you read stems from that.

  50. I guess the only question to ask yourself is “is this helpful to other users?”

    if so, post it.. If not, don’t post it.

    Actually… that pretty much sums up all of SEO too.

  51. I’d be happy to quote your counter-statements in a follow-up post.

    On a related note, as editor, in retrospect I wish I had handled that post a bit differently. I welcome Aaron’s views again as I think he has some great insight into the US SEO scene, but as editor I think my job would’ve been to ask for a remodeling of one or two sentences which I now think are too personal (instead of highlighting such sentences). Guess I’m still learning what goes into editing guest posts, as I hope to get more, different blogging voices to Google Blogoscoped.

  52. Well, maybe people start to write anti Google claims because G never say what the problem is with your site. So, Everybody sees Google like The Big Monster. In fact, I’m starting to believe it, because Google thinks my site is “supplement Content” and It’s out of the search results. But all the sites that copy my content (feed aggregator, sites that copy entire contents, proxy sites) are in first places… MY PLACE! I’m not lying Mr. Matt you can check it with your own eyes… ;)
    http://groups.google.com/group/Google_Webmaster_Help-Indexing/browse_thread/thread/b808fc89d21a4ef1/109fe39991cee15d#109fe39991cee15d

    Best Regards,

    azuka

  53. It is a love hate relationships. They love google when sites they are promoting rank well in Google and they hate Google when their sites are not doing well. They have to realize that all sites cannot be on the first page of SERP.

  54. I’d love to see your side of it. I’m having a hard time grasping the quality of Google’s SERPs right now and would love to hear something from someone who actually works at Google on the state of their search engine.

  55. Harith

    Matt,

    No matter how polite and constructive your response to Aaron Wall will be, he is going to continue on the Google bashing path and unethical approach to few issues as this one.

    Better to spend your time on posting here on your blog more SEO related posts. Of course some more gadgets posts too :)

  56. Edward

    Seriously, who is Aaron Wall? I’ve never heard of him. Do you respond to evry taunt or is what this guy says really important?

  57. billse

    I agree with those who want to know only if it offers insight. It sounds pretty heavy – I think the google / seo relationship may actually benefit (this relationship often appears oddly strained, esp. to those who are adhering to the standards and not gaming).

    I

  58. I’m not sure there is much Google slamming in that first article. It just seems like when you have things like the monstrous market share of Google, combined with the fairly secretive method of the algorithm used and the manner in which Google does things like penalizing a site or revoking an AdSense account without ever even contacting the person in question (guilty until proven innocent), this type of thing will ALWAYS be in the back of many minds. I personally see nothing wrong with what Aaron said.

  59. woow…why banned me? =(

  60. As a lot of people listen to what Aaron and yourself have to say, then people like myself who do not know what the specific issue is, and find posts like the above quite cryptic and mysterious then maybe its best to answer in a generic way about the issue and a brief outline to what has been happening.

    A lot of people will be considering to take Aarons SEO advice, and reading this post, might think that the information he is selling/blogging is not good, when it may be some of the best out there (it might not of course ;)), and therefore send people looking elsewhere at sites that promote not so good SEO practice.

    I think google should be seen to be actively encouraging and being openly transparent with those SEO people who promote good practice and proabably indirectly contribute to the success of google.

  61. Hi Matt,

    If you really need to get it off your chest, go for it. But my opinion with a lot of these “top” SEOs is that they just do a lot of stuff to manipulate people. His anti Google rants are probably just a strategy he figured would get him more links. Personally I’m a bit tired of it and would rather you not contribute in spite of loving a good argument. It will only make him more money and not really help anything.

    I get the feeling that between Aaron and Rand and the other prominent people in SEO, it’s becoming a kind of in-group. Hell, why don’t you just give me the link instead? I do SEO and I don’t whine about issues. Just go about getting the work done. Responding to these things just encourages more. Let it fail, and his tune will change. Call him or see him in person but don’t bother with e-mail or web posts. There is no way to link bait a phone call unless he records it or something and then posts a transcript.

    I’m rambling but basically, it’s all kind of tiresome. Nobody likes being manipulated and at some point people will get tired of this just to have Aaron do another article in 6 months titled “How to use negative comments to game the Google algorithm”.

    Google can stand on its own and it’s not your job to counter every single little article written about it. How about some more quality posts on your blog instead? There is a lot going on lately and we’re all kind of blind. It would be nice to have a counterpoint to all the speculation.

    Thanks…

  62. I read Aaron’s blog fairly often — and he’s a genius (he’s getting high quality links — using this linkbait strategy — that he talks about!).

    Also, I voted that I’d love to see this argument because this will bring up a fine opportunity to see some new SEO strategies unfold. :)

  63. Uuuppsss, sorry… I was testing… =P Ok, maybe people start to write all these anti Google claims because Google takes actions and never says why. So, Everybody sees Google like a Big Monster. In fact, I’m starting to believe it, because Google thinks that my content website is a “supplement content” and G just deleted my site from its search results. Meanwhile, all the sites that copy my content (feed aggregators, proxy sites, sites that copy entire contents, etc) are in first places… MY PLACE! I’m not lying Mr. Matt, you can see it with your own eyes. ;) I think you should view the claims… even the machines make mistakes.

    Best Regards ^^

    azuka

  64. Just another thought!

    A lot of people are mentioning the transparency and bashing of google from a number of angles and whats the harm in letting people know publicly whats going on so we can all learn from it. Good thoughts I think.

    So why does google not set up system like the BBC complaints system (although not for complaints, but similar system)
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/
    It could work in the same way like the following simple example.
    Someone uses the form to submit an issue they have, knowing the result may well be published.
    – “Hey google you have banned me why”
    _ Google investigates issue, sees they have broken guidelines.
    – Gooogle publishes the response
    – “yeah we banned your site, you broke rules 1,4,8 doing this at your site, so we removed you from the index”
    Everyone learns something from the banning, and google is seen to be more transparent.

    Just a thought :)

  65. by the way, in one moment I got this error, of course, It was after “Why banned me” horror… v_V

    Error establishing a database connection

  66. What’s weird about Aaron’s repeated jabs at Google is that he is offering some specifics without going all the way, (for example, which site exactly is he so steamed about?) so it’s impossible to know who’s right here, if anyone. Hearing it from Aaron’s side, yeah, it sounds like he got penalized because he knows the SEO game and Google doesn’t want him hogging the top search results. On the other hand, he may have done something blatantly against Google’s rules and is leaving that part of the story out.

    So I guess if you’re going to talk about the specifics, maybe you & Aaron should both agree on how specific you’re going to get. Telling us what Aaron did wrong and which site he keeps referring to would be interesting, but seems somewhat like an invasion of privacy, in that he obviously doesn’t want to identify the site.

    If he doesn’t want to talk specifics, I guess I’d leave it at —”Aaron knows what he did but doesn’t want to admit it publicly.” Or, if he truly doesn’t know what he did, I’d leave it at “I’d discuss the issue, but unless I can include all the details, I’m not going to bother.”

    I hope Aaron wants to share more, because it would obviously be helpful to Webmasters everywhere.

  67. Matt,

    Count me in the transparency column. To the extent that addressing Aaron’s concerns will provide actionable insights to whitehat professionals, please do so.

    All this mystery may be useful in smacking down sites that genuinely deserve it, but one of the more tiresome challenges of doing SEO is separating the truth from the paranoia. Aaron’s central claim involves a few of these “SEO nightmares” that we SEOs are often asked about and, while we may have a pretty fair idea of the answer, we have nothing authoritative to point to when Webmaster Guildelines are too high-level. Those nightmares include getting dumped from the index for a reason that, intuitively, ought not be considered a violation. It’s hard to imagine a search engine going after a site merely “because it’s owned by a prominent SEO” but people do indeed worry about becoming a red flag for “too much SEO” and other subjective issues.

  68. Hi Matt
    Glad to hear you are reading my posts. Sorry if I offended you. My phone is 401 207 1945 if you want to give me a ring, and I am not too far down the road either.

    I think Google has done some great things. I am an avid user of the search product, Gmail, AdWords, AdSense, Youtube, and I own a few shares of Google stock. And Google pushing search so hard makes SEO more valuable, which increases how much I get paid for knowing SEO. So its not like I hate all things Google.

    Keep in mind that I ran Threadwatch for a long time BEFORE you penalized any of my sites. So me being critical of some (not all) of Google’s policies is nothing new. I recall a specific instance of you calling Threadwatch “Aaronstan”. That probably was not a term of endearment. ;)

    My issue is not with one of my sites getting penalized, that happens to any small webmaster who owns lots of sites. I know of many friends who have got penalized recently. In some cases perhaps the penalty was deserved, and in some cases not.

    My specific issues worthy of debate are:
    - how nofollow was pushed through as a fix for blog spam, and then quickly became something that you must use on paid links or else be called a web spammer
    - the uneven nature of hand editing – which was even included in semi-anonymous warning you guys had published on Search Engine Land
    - the death of many types organic links caused by Google FUD – as an example, I did public relations for a friend and got an article published about their business in the mainstream media. In that case my friend’s business was the focus of the article, and yet that media source did not want to link out because they felt that might be too promotional AND they were afraid to link out from their site. A web controlled by fear will fare worse than a web built on passion and creativity.
    - how Google can buy YouTube and tightly integrate it into the search results, but if smaller webmasters buy sites and fix them up to improve user experience they are somehow considered spammers.
    - how some AdWords advertisers are given discounts (through enhanced clickthrough rates) for using additional Google products like Google Checkout
    - talking up the quality of linkbait and then penalizing sites that build organic links too quickly.
    - when you penalize a site and allow people to steal that entire site’s content via your AdSense program. how hard is it to add ANY quality control issues to AdSense to verify sites are not a wholesale copy of another PRIOR to accepting them in your ad program? If Google wants to organize the world’s information they shouldn’t fund a large portion of the world’s information pollution.

    If you want to vilify me that will not be hard to do. I made many mistakes throughout my life and will likely continue to make some. Hopefully as I grow older I will make fewer and less dumb ones. I wonder where this exchange will end up on my list of all time greats though.

  69. Matt, I think the best thing you can do is to explain exactly what happened with Aaron’s site that he invested 50K into.

    His accusation: He blogged about his site, a Googler read his blog post, and proceeded to kill the site because Aaron is a well known SEO..

    What really happened?

    Without attacking Aaron Wall or taking issue with any of his anti-Google statements, you could at least answer that question. By answering it you put this issue that’s been bothering him for ages to rest.

  70. “My issue is not with one of my sites getting penalized, that happens to any small webmaster who owns lots of sites.”

    Yet every time someone bashes you for bashing Google that’s the first excuse you bring up Aaron.

  71. The design has been finalised, now don’t all rush at once to buy it:

    http://img105.imageshack.us/img105/9435/seoscumgg5.gif

  72. I think definitely that some of Aaron’s comments are out of whack. After all, Google is a business and businesses need to improve revenue and profits. One way Google accomplishes that is by eliminating people that are spoofing the index. One other way is by improving search results. I think Aaron is experiencing frustration the way that many good SEO’s are. Google tackles some, but not all problems. For instance, two of the leaders in my industry have blatantly paid for their position utilizing some of the techniques described in Aaron’s post- see a “mesothelioma” search (www.mesotheliomanews.com and http://www.asbestosnews.com). I think Aaron has a lot of boiled up frustration and I credit him for saying what others won’t. On the other hand, I think Aaron needs to be realistic about search and look at how far it has come. Change is constant and search is always changing. Aaron needs to change with it or go into another business.

  73. Giovanna

    Hi Matt,

    Aaron briefly introduced you to me at SMX is Seattle. You seemed very approachable and personable despite the swarms of people you attract.

    Since you want the public’s opinion on what to do, my suggestion is to privately weed out the misunderstanding with Aaron. He really does means well and sometimes brags to me about how lucky he was to have dinner with you a few years back :)

    Thanks

  74. Dennis

    Kiss him you fool!

  75. I think it deserves a response. Google needs to let people know why they are being banned as they are not always right – and need to give people a good chance to respond.

    I remember back when Yahoo was the big guy and it was irritating that they made you pay $295 just to get your site looked at. Along came Google and I can still recall telling people to check them out for searching.

    My thinking is it would not be too hard for someone to bring out a new search engine more friendly to website owners and make a big splash. I occassionally click on page 20 or something just to see what’s there and, lo and behold, there are a lot of very good sites where the webmaster simply does not know SEO.

    Having had a site banned because of a hosting error – I think site owners deserve explanations. Answer him.

  76. Aaron Wall has turned into an elitist no it all, I deleted his old interview from my blog, I just can’t listen to his insanity anymore. Try to comment and challenge anything he says on his blog and he either edits your comments, calls you stupid or one of his mindless drones gives you hell.

    In defense of people who watch Google with an eagle eye… I think we need more, organic search must be protected, if you guys try to push it even further down on the page (adwords, universal widgets) we will need people like Aaron Wall to give you hell but yeah, he has gone mad lately, I agree.

    Turn it up and leave no prisoners alive!

  77. I’d say don’t respond here. The reasons are many, and the ‘here’ is in there for good reason. You need to tone the dial away from your blog and towards the places where your posting will reach the most people and can be considered actual Google policy. All of us are encouraged NOT to contact Googlers personally or post their problems on your blog, so I’m not sure why you would do the opposite? In fact just calling him out here like this is somewhat akin to Rand’s ‘outing’ of sites on the seomoz blog a while back. If you weren’t who you were, people would be going banana’s about this right about now…

    All that said, if Aaron really has a problem with it and brings it up in Google’s groups or some official place where you can contact Google (that’s really the only place isn’t it?!?), then that would be a sublime place to offer him some advice.

    He might have to wait 6 months like the rest of us, but I don’t see why having huge PR pull should get some cases fast tracked? If that’s the path Google is going down next time a penalty occurs on a site we’d all be calling PR specialists…. surely that can’t be G’s intent? Or do the big guys with the big names really have a leg up on everyone else in Google? Don’t worry, I know you’re not going to answer that :)

  78. Id ip bann him if i was you:)

  79. Aaron, the part of your Blogoscoped post that I noticed the most was

    “As a comparison, a few years ago I bought an old site that had about 500 inbound links. Over the course of a year and a half I spent about $50,000 on marketing and content development. I built over 12,000 organic inbound links into the site, so my link profile was at least 95% organic, clean, and hand built using editorial votes.

    After building up the site’s profile I decided it made sense to rebrand the site using a stronger domain name. I 301 redirected the site to a new domain (same design, same content, same topic) and then blogged about how to rebrand a site. Shortly after writing that blog post a Google engineer read my blog and killed ALL of my link equity. Next thing I know an AdSense spam site that stole all my content was ranking where my site should have been. In spite of having email contact with Google search engineers, and explaining that I built most of the links organically, they did not care a bit. I am an SEO so I am scum, and that site should die because it is mine.”

    I was considering talking more about those two paragraphs.

  80. “make the post zing!”

    Go ahead!!!

  81. What made the Search Engine Land post remarkable or “anti-Google” in nature? If you do a follow up post I would love to see the other issues I mentioned addressed.

  82. As originally posted by Aaron Pratt: “organic search must be protected, if you guys try to push it even further down on the page”

    I think this is primarily the debate of the year: “Why is Google diluting organic listings”, “At which point will all hell break loose – when organics are below-the-fold”?

    Its scandalous how you can place 2 or 3 ppc placements at the optimal top position and then harp on about relevancy.

    Yeah, its relevant if you pay for it!

  83. What people forget is that Google is a business first and search engine second – it’s not a “non-profit organization”. As with any big business – there’s tremendous pressure from shareholders, directors, etc. (people who care very little about anything except the bottom line) to push the financial numbers to the limit. Google will always be upseting the SEO crowd simply because of what it is – a big business. Google owes everything to its shareholders and nothing to us (people fighting for organic rankings). Google will always find herself walking a delicate balancing act between profits and search relevance.

  84. “Why keep everybody guessing all the time?”

    I make mine this questioning from Patrick Altoft. Google’s atitude towards webmasters is nearly Kafkian: “there is an accusation against you”.

    One of my students, a blog owner, gets this note “we have detected fraudulent clicks on your Adsense”. He never asked for clicks nor clicked his own ads (he is wise enough not to waste time on such primary behavior) but, then again, Google says it detected fraud, so he must be doing something wrong, something he will never get a chance to change, because Google treats this as a case of “national security”.

    Secret judgments and penalties, in case you guys are young enough not to remember, were common in the Soviet Union and other far from democratic states. It is shameful to see a company which is said to rely on the “democratic nature of the web” adopting such atitudes.

  85. Google is definitely showing signs of Kafkaesque.

    Judgment without Trial – get the AWOL T-Shirt Today!

    C’Mon Matt, don’t toe the ‘Party’ line. Unchain those shackles. Speak-Out!

  86. In the Google Corner – Matt Cutts !
    In the SEO corner – Aaron Wall !

    **DING – DING – DING** Bring on round one.

    The winner? ME, because you guys can’t fight without me learning something, and I’m watching EVERYONE!

  87. Matt – if Google were your God or Government, would you prefer your God or Government to punish you and not let you know why? One word: Transparency. With power comes responsibility to those who put you in your position – those who support with their votes.

    Take a look at the results to your poll, you wanted 3 to get the vote (by the amount of words gave it), but it was the least favourite. So yes, we want engagement. You asked the question, so lets have a meaningful discussion.

  88. Hey Matt,

    I’d let it slide and contact Aaron directly. The reason I say let it slide is that the whole deal is probably linkbait anyway.

    I’d chat with him personally because I generally find these types of communications (emails, posts, forums, etc) end up escalating into a flame war that could easily have been resolved with a personal chat. Most people become much more reasonable one-to-one. Or is that how wars start?

    So, my choice is “Why get into a back-and-forth? “.

    Another thought is that I have found that when secrets are held closely that suspicion ensues. Transparent operations eliminate conspiracy theories. Google does a great job and provides us with a lot of tools (thank you) but maybe more input would help. Clearly you don’t need to go so far as to divulge the algorithm(s) though I’d love to get a look ;-)

  89. voted !

    lets see the rumbles :D

  90. j

    Yes, I would like to see Aaron points addressed.

    - how nofollow was pushed through as a fix for blog spam, and then quickly became something that you must use on paid links or else be called a web spammer
    - the uneven nature of hand editing – which was even included in semi-anonymous warning you guys had published on Search Engine Land
    - the death of many types organic links caused by Google FUD – as an example, I did public relations for a friend and got an article published about their business in the mainstream media. In that case my friend’s business was the focus of the article, and yet that media source did not want to link out because they felt that might be too promotional AND they were afraid to link out from their site. A web controlled by fear will fare worse than a web built on passion and creativity.
    - how Google can buy YouTube and tightly integrate it into the search results, but if smaller webmasters buy sites and fix them up to improve user experience they are somehow considered spammers.
    - how some AdWords advertisers are given discounts (through enhanced clickthrough rates) for using additional Google products like Google Checkout
    - talking up the quality of linkbait and then penalizing sites that build organic links too quickly.
    - when you penalize a site and allow people to steal that entire site’s content via your AdSense program. how hard is it to add ANY quality control issues to AdSense to verify sites are not a wholesale copy of another PRIOR to accepting them in your ad program? If Google wants to organize the world’s information they shouldn’t fund a large portion of the world’s information pollution.

  91. Pat

    “Anti-Google Complaints”

    While Aaron’s negativity towards Google has been becoming more vocal, I would hate to see the many valid points he presents become known as “Anti-Google”

    As a keen observer Aaron has few equals.

    If what he is currently observing is making him become more negative towards Google, I would hope that you would see this as an opportunity Matt. You have an intelligent, knowledgeable, and passionate user of your products commenting upon them.

    He brings up good points. I would love to see them addressed.

    It is so easy to see someone who is bringing up unpopular points as someone who is “just complaining”. I do not see Aaron doing that, he is passionate about search and he is creating passionate discussions about it.

    It seems to my (admittedly untrained) eyes that you have taken his comments about Google, and successfully turned the attention away from his points, and instead shifted it to Aaron Wall. In my opinion, this was brilliantly done :)

    But his points are not about Aaron Wall, or about you they are about Google. I hope to learn about Google from you comments.

    I already learned all I needed to learn about Aaron when I emailed him, told him I was broke and he sent me a cope SEObook for free, the same way he does for non-profits.

    I already have learned all I need to learn about you, when you kindly engaged in conversation and drinks with me and were open and responsive to my communication.

    I just want to learn about Google. Even if you felt each of his points had no validity whatsoever, which I doubt, I think we all know that Aaron has a way of catching on to things far in advance of others, If what he is “catching” now is a negativity towards Google, then…

    Thanks Mat for putting this out, can’t wait to see :)

  92. Hey Matt,

    I’m the biggest Google fan I know but, I’m torn on how to respond!

    As you know, controversy always draws attention. No matter what you say, SEOBook stands to win by default just from the exposure it would generate. Perhaps Google should consider hiring Aaron, I don’t know? : )

    I’m by no means taking sides here. Again not taking either side, I have no idea “what’s going on with Aaron” and truly believe GOOGLE is the GRRREATEST. At the same time I think Aaron’s SEOBook is an excelent resource for anyone interested in Search Engine Marketing.

    Recently, comments were made by a high ranking Google official that could be interpreted to mean “SEO = Spam in Google’s opinion”. I’m actually a big fan of the “employee” (legend) who said it, I humbled to have the opportunity to meet him in person a few weeks prior at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA and I know what he was trying to say came out wrong. Because it was said, I do think you should clear the air on how Google views SEO.

    I also see Aaron’s point when it comes to press releases. There is at least one “PR” website where a $100 “donation” almost always, all but guarantees top placement in Google News. That said the $100 “donation” is not paid to Google and to my knowledge Google has no affiliation with the site. While this may be “buying” top placement it is clearly not buying top placement from Google.

    -Brian

  93. I’d appreciate a discussion and explanation too.

  94. Matt Cutts said:

    Aaron, the part of your Blogoscoped post that I noticed the most was

    “As a comparison, a few years ago I bought an old site that had about 500 inbound links. Over the course of a year and a half I spent about $50,000 on marketing and content development. I built over 12,000 organic inbound links into the site, so my link profile was at least 95% organic, clean, and hand built using editorial votes.

    After building up the site’s profile I decided it made sense to rebrand the site using a stronger domain name. I 301 redirected the site to a new domain (same design, same content, same topic) and then blogged about how to rebrand a site. Shortly after writing that blog post a Google engineer read my blog and killed ALL of my link equity. Next thing I know an AdSense spam site that stole all my content was ranking where my site should have been. In spite of having email contact with Google search engineers, and explaining that I built most of the links organically, they did not care a bit. I am an SEO so I am scum, and that site should die because it is mine.”

    I was considering talking more about those two paragraphs.

    Matt? That is a great start…let’s hear it please.

  95. Aaron, now the ball is in your court. The issue Matt picked up is exactly the one most of us want to know about. Can you give him the go-ahead and let him explain what happened from the Google perspective? Could be a great learning for all of us ;-)

  96. JLH

    I’d hold off on the calling Aaron’s actions as pure link bait. My guess is that Matt has garnered a few links today with a post that just teases us with the possibility of a post. That could be looked on as baiting as well, or at least a good bit of viral marketing. Building up anticipation of a possibly controversial event has pretty much the same effect as the event actually happening, without all of the icky details of the event.

    Now Matt doesn’t monetize his blog, need the links, nor the extra readers so we don’t have much motive for such an action.

    Perhaps when all is said and done the post could be used as an example of how to convey controversy without actually creating it.

    On the other hand, maybe Matt and Aaron are in on this together just to teach all of us lemmings a lesson.

    (side note: For the record, personally I think Aaron has real beliefs for valid reasons and didn’t start this for attention but rather for resolution, and I also think Matt wasn’t interested in link baiting either, but was actually looking for some feedback. Just looking before he leaps a bit)

  97. By the way, Aaron, I appreciate you offering your phone number to talk about this situation more. Talking about some of this would be faster than emailing or blogging back and forth.

  98. Thanks back to you too, Matt.

  99. Matt,

    I think you should really consider hearing him out. There are some fatal flaws with Google’s search algorithm that more than just Aaron are pointing out or have been effected by. The small picture is an e-blog battle. The larger picture is that us hard-working web people are losing traffic to garbage/spam/MFA .info sites that do nothing but steal content in the first place when we are following the rules, optimizing our sites, and posting thought-worthy content.

    We website owners need to pay for our expensive servers, so we sell ads. Google then drops us 2 or 3 PageRanks for selling ads through other networks or directly.

    We website owners spend many hours validating code, setting up proper W3 heading structures, and using relevant, non-spammy keywords, and we move to supplemental results.

    We website owners RELY on search engines, especially google, to bring us interested parties to our sites. We follow the rules, don’t spam, build natural back links, and we end up dropping PR, dropping position, and NEVER god forbid out rank wikipedia or youtube, even if my site was the source.

    This, I believe, is where Aaron is coming from. He speaks for a lot of us, in my opinion.

    -Brian
    skeymedia

  100. Tom

    Thank goodness for Aaron, I say! Thank goodness for anyone who was the balls to stand up and say what they think — and sensible things too — about a corporate giant like Google.

  101. Blake K

    One of the reasons so many of us are interested in Aaron’s specific beefs and criticisms of Google — other than his relentlessly thought-provoking posts — is that he was once an enthusiastic advocate. I’d love to see some open back and forth. I think it would be good for everyone.

  102. lance

    You are the SPAM team head at Google, i hear. Do you really have the time to respond to rants of an individual, that too in a public blog? Why dont spend time to catch some spammer instead? PATHETIC!!!

  103. Silence is the ultimate weapon Matt, plus he is just doing it for linkbait. You know how these bloggers are…

  104. Hi Matt

    [blockquote]I was considering talking more about those two paragraphs.[/blockquote]
    At the moment we only have one side to the story, I always think it is better to hear both sides.

    I have learned a lot from your blog and I sense the Google/Matt bashing is eating at you a bit – it would me too.

    I guess that is kind of bashing and moaning is inevitable at one level – but really rather sad.

    It will be a sad day if the negativity makes you less inclined to post about the issues in the future.

  105. ian

    I don’t think you should underestimate the amount of anti-google sentiment. Until recently I have been one of the biggest google fans. But that recent PR update, who knows the real reason for it, but it looked a bit like a manual pagerank edit, especially when a site like engadget can drop from a PR7 to a PR5. I havent sold a text link since may 2006, because I knew google didnt like them, but I did have a page up saying text links for sale, just never sold any. Anyhow, I realise that google has a tough job in keeping search clean, and I am sure they have valid reasons for doing what they did in an effort to keep search clean. What probably upset people more is how some high profile sites had their PR restored so fast while smaller sites must wait and see.
    The thing that I dont like about google is how sites can blatantly steal most of my content with some kind of scraper script and maintain a higher pagerank than my site. What annoys me more is that google adsense supports the stealing of site content by not banning their adsense accounts even when reported.
    It just seems ludicrous to me that some scraper site can have a PR5 and outrank a site like forbes.com which has a PR4. It is like google thinks more highly of content thieves than they do of someone who sells links on their site.
    A lot of sites affected were fairly respectable sites, they have some degree of influence, you have to expect that they are going to speak out against google. I am a small site with only 30,000+ members. What about the more influential websites that were affected. Google may be in a position of dominance now, at the moment it can afford to ignore the sentiments of the webmaster community, but what you have effectively done is destroyed what was once a very loyal fan base, and one with some degree of influence. You cant seriously hit respectable sites with what looks like a manual hand picked pagerank cut and not expect the owners to start to hate google, it is just human nature. I still use google because their search is still the best, google reader is the best, adsense is the best, I just dont recommend them to anyone anymore or sing their praises anymore. And if microsoft developed a product as good, I would jump ship in a heartbeat.
    Google may be right, Aaron may be wrong, I fully understand the tough job that google has in keeping their search the best. But google should still care to see what is causing the swell of anti-google sentiment, or it could simply ignore them if they believe that they have no influence on the readers of their content.

  106. I do feel you should go into the content of Aaron’s blog. It seems to me he has some good points.

  107. Turn the snark dial up to 11 and make the post zing! Let the games begin!

  108. I have learned a lot from your blog

    Apart from how to do

    correctly – ah fixed it :)

  109. ian

    Also in regards to my comment above, in all fairness, I should give credit where credit is due, google as large an organisation as it is, you would think that nobody would read google spam reports, and I dont know if it was chance, but about a week ago, google did drastically reduce the number of pages indexed by the site stealing content and that restored my faith somewhat in google, so my anti-google sentiment was reduced by about 50% by that, and in time it is possible that the adsense would also deal with the issue of stolen content, so I should at least mention that I am headed in the direction of being a pro-googler again.

  110. I’m 100% sure Aaron isn’t doing this for any linkbait or marketing purpose. As has been pointed out before, raising these concerns has far more potential to damage his brand.

    I’m glad though you have managed to resolve this amicably.

  111. I guess I’m not even sure why you care what “one” person says about Google Matt? Why would Google care as well?

    I’m with Michael Martinez totally on this.

    I have never thought it was in Google’s best interest to cater to the SEO industry like they seem to want to do. SEO’s did ‘not’ make Google. The entire world made Google. If all the SEO’s disappeared tomorrow, Google would still be Google, albeit not as relevant maybe as “whitehat” SEO’s do help Google with relevancy. Only when the general public gleems Google as irrelevant will Google cease to be the biggest and the best. I really do not think that the catering to the SEO industry has helped one bit in this regard. It’s only led to SEO’s asking for more and more and more, with no end in site. The more you give them, the more they want. Letting anyone know “exactly” why something happened is not a good thing. It only serves to showing that person exactly how far they can go before something happens. Is that a good thing for Google?

    If Google starts going down the path of answering all critics in the SEO industry, you will be spending most days doing so. Giving one person special mention does not look good to many of us at all. Some people simply love to whine. That’s not going to stop anytime soon.

    To the person above who stated that SEO’s and Google have different interests is very much not true. My biggest gripe about this SEO industry is the fact that many out there seem to think Google is the enemy. Couldn’t be further from the truth.

    As it’s been for a very long time now…. you spam Google, you eventually get caught. Stop spamming. The guidelines are very, very clear.

    I will say this however; those G guidelines could be fine tuned on many statements it makes. As far as clarity goes?… very clear.

  112. Another thought.

    I know this issue stems from the amount of incoming links to a website. What I really do not understand about Google is why you all are rewarding sites just because they can get some links on social sites like digg, “spin”, etc? Are those really “votes” from “one” website to another website? Are they really? I don’t think so. Many of these social sites do not use nofollow either. Why are sites rewarded (if they indeed are) just because a submitter of those links has lots of friends who can get the site to the front page?

    I always thought a true vote was one where one website owner truly thinks another website owner’s site was good for it’s visitors, so it votes for it by giving a link to it. When did that cease to be the case? If a site can get thousands of instant votes just because it has many friends in a particular niche, that’s one of the reasons in the future that will curtail the growth for that search engine. I’m not entirely sure what the reasons were for AW’s whining, but if was indeed the fact that the site got many thousands of links real quick-like, then Google did just fine and should be doing “much” more of it.

    Of course; this is all my opinion, but I’m standing by it. :-)

  113. First off, thanks for citing my post on the matter, Matt! I actually have a ton of respect for Aaron and consider him both a colleague and a mentor of sorts, especially from a marketing perspective.

    That being said, I don’t necessarily agree with his anti-google stance and I would love to hear your response. No need to get antagonistic. Just a professional response should do.

    Hugo

  114. Not sure what you mean Aaron. I agreed with your last post in here. Your post was much more personal than mine was, but I do agree with it. I think both my posts were very relevant and something Google should think about.

  115. I just noticed that Aaron posted a followup on his blog, explaining that you two had a conversation about misunderstandings, and how it’s important to remember that a lot of things which may seem personal are just different business perspectives. It’s good to see that things can be taken offline and spoken of intelligently and without turning the internet into a giant flame-war.

    I read both of your blogs every day, and I think you both do a great job giving the internet community important information. Keep up the great work!

  116. I am going to sit on the fence here and say I understand both sides and will use my website as an example. In April I purchased SEOBook to use as a guide for SEO of website of mine that was ranked around 600 on google for my primary search term.

  117. Sorry hit wrong key

    Anyway I followed his directions and over 6 months moved from 600 to 14 on Google. I did NOT buy a single inbound link, unless you count Yahoo Directory and about 3 other directories.

    Has the fact I did not purchase text links kept me from the top ten? I dont know. I do know that by using the advice in SEOBook I was able to move my site up. I have done my best to follow Googles guidelines as well……

    So I guess I can understand both sides of this. It will be interesting to see how all of this pans out.

    I am a supporter of both Aaron and Matt…….. I am not going to choose sides in this one…..

  118. Doug Heil – I am not talking about you, I am talking about Matt putting attention on Aaron Wall for some of the blatantly incorrect things he said then backing off like a scared puppy. If you are going to call someone out Matt, either do it don’t do it! Not a time to be passive aggressive.

    “I really do not think that the catering to the SEO industry has helped one bit” – Doug Heil

    “Frankly, I could care less about his gripes. I’d rather you take on something substantial, like what you’re doing to help Supplemental Results pages rank in queries WHEN THEY ARE MORE RELEVANT than pages in the Main Web Index.” – Michael Martinez

  119. LOL that makes sense now. Your post coming after mine looked strange as I thought we both agreed on this.

  120. j

    Scared puppy? I would say Scared Kitty, didnt you see his halloween pic? lol.

    In all truth Matt, please address as many of Aaron’s questions on this post as you can… Whats the point if you dont? It will be as A Pratt, a useless post, if you dont…

  121. oh… can’t help it.

    740 244 9313 if Google or Matt is making phone calls. I’d love to shoot the shit with them about how I can do better at building sites, and how far I can toe that line before Google slaps me. I think many in here and out there would love to know directly from Google with that personal touch. :-)

    Going down this road just can’t be a good thing.

  122. Matt,

    I think you’re on the brink of starting a dangerous precedence here just because Aaron is a high profile SEO blogger.

    Considering the total number of people claiming to have sites recently penalized, why should Aaron’s high profile posts justify any more of an answer than anyone else posting about being penalized on webmaster forums around the web?

    In all fairness, if you answer Aaron you need to answer them all.

    Besides, why stop the fun?

    It’s been way more interesting to watch the self-proclaimed king of all SEO twist and squirm while lashing out at Google every other day than it was when he thought he had all the answers.

  123. That’s sorta what I said in a previous (unpublished) comment. I’ll try to be a bit less prickly this time (if that was the problem)…:

    1) Aaron is a big boy. He probably KNOWS why Google is doing all that.
    2) Then again if there is something new afoot, we’d like to hear it as well.

    In any case, please shed some light… :-)

  124. I would suspect from all the comments that we’ll be seeing a post and I look forward to it.

    I would honestly be more interested though in learning how those of us who work to stay honest can keep from being harmed by having spam sites like
    cellphones.fogtail.com
    link to our stories and just parrot them, just so they can display ads.

    I work on towing the line, but I am truly concerned about getting harmed by crap like this. If not by Google, by Yahoo or MSN.

  125. Go figure. 110 comments and Bill’s the one who makes the most sense in the equation. I actually had the same thought, but Bill beat me to it, and good on him.

    Matt: if you respond to Aaron at all, where do you draw the line between what does and doesn’t get responded to? What happens to the C-list, D-list, or (insert letter here)-list webmaster or SEO who has an issue and expects the same treatment as Aaron Wall gets? And how do you satisfy everyone fairly?

    It shouldn’t matter if his name is Aaron Wall, Bob Wall, Aaron Smith, Joe Smith, whatever…equal treatment for everyone. Period.

    Not only that, the only reason Aaron writes the kind of crap he does (and let’s call it what it is…C-R-A-P) is to curry favor with the kind of people who would rather blame big G for their SEO woes than to look in the mirror. Aaron caters to the disenfranchised blind sheep thinkers of the world, who aren’t smart or savvy enough to realize that Aaron’s sole purpose is to look out for #1 and that he really couldn’t care less if anyone else ever succeeds, as long as he does.

    Not only that, you’re not really a snarky type, Matt. You’ve got a bit of it in you, but you’ll probably do what you usually do (argue factually and logically, with a little bit of attitude). Facts, logic, and common sense always take a back seat to pure emotion in any kind of debate, and you’ll lose the argument even if you have a solid case. The best thing you can do here is to do nothing.

    By the way, has anyone noticed lately how political SEO is getting? It’s not even about sites or optimization or any of that stuff that it should be about anymore; it’s all jockeying and positioning and debating strategy and a whole bunch of other garbage.

  126. That’s still a decent expression of what he thinks. Democracy?

  127. Matts Putts

    Matt,

    TRY TO WRAP THAT BIG BRAIN OF YOURS AROUND THIS SIMPLE LITTLE FACT. PEOPLE ON THE NET ARE TRYING TO MAKE MONEY. LET THEM! IN FACT HELP THEM! THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT TRYING TO LIVE IN MANSIONS AND DRIVE FERRARIS. THEY ARE TRYING TO FEED THEIR FAMILIES!!

  128. In the meantine, this post kept me amused, I hope you all enjoy a light hearted moment too:

    this post

  129. It would be great if Google truly opened up with webmasters and provided an easy way for webmasters to get a simple no/yes with a reason for sites that may be penalized. It would help put a stop to all the complaints and save webmasters a whole lot of time trying to figure out what is going on with their site in google.

    Most webmasters out there — especial the new ones like myself — don’t know or have the time to track google’s every guideline. Most are not trying to game google but may through ignorance be penalized. I myself am worried one of my sites may be penalized and have spent a large amount of frustrated time pooring over the guidelines trying to figure this out.

    Help the community that you are directing (whether you like it or not) and open up.

  130. I agree with most of the comments….. starting a war with Aaron Wall would only serve to promote his views (any press is good press and all that jazz!) but also waste your time and would most certainly descend into pettiness.

    I would say that a response and leaving it at that would be really helpful. After all, the last thing we need is for new comers to the industry to take his views as gospel and start precticing what he preaches.

  131. Sufyan

    IMHO, any such misunderstanding(s) should have been removed behind the scene. FULL STOP

  132. Gabriel; Thanks for that link to the seomoz thread.

    I guess I’m wondering “who cares” about some a-list of some so-called seo’s? I know I don’t. Let me give you all a first clue; “all” names you read mentioned in that thread are damn speakers and “buds” of danny sullivan. Yep, that’s right; so if you too want to be an a-lister SEO, simply kiss butt is all. Easy stuff.

    Some of us have businesses to run and choose to remain small biz. Some don’t have other employees to take over things while the owner jaunts about all over the world attending butt kissing conferences. :-) How many are there now?….. 5, 6, 10 per year now? That’s the way to be an a-lister however. And now; I guess that’s the way to get the attention of Google as well. Not a good thing.

    Please don’t get me wrong; I could care less about “who” Google is concerned with and what that person says or does not say. It could be “joeWhoNoOneHasHeardOF” SEO. Just the idea of Google starting to pick and choose which SEO they wish to acknowledge and help is a very bad road to start traveling on.

  133. Matt,

    Perhaps it is time you considered how Google is making people feel. I currently have a page rank of 0, which has been dropped from a 4. I cannot see why that would be. I don’t know what is going on there at the Googleplex, but I will tell you I am angry and resentful and I am not the only one.

    Why don’t you take a moment to tell everyone what is going on, what they did wrong to deserve such treatment, and how they can fix it, if they want to. Because to be honest right now, I don’t want to. I just want to stop using everything with Google’s name on it, and blog for hours about how much I hate Google. I’m not the only one who feels that way and you will soon find a lot of hate in the blogosphere for Google.

    Regards,
    Snoskred

  134. Snoskred; I wouldn’t worry about toolbar pr as it’s “internal” pr that means something. That being said;

    I viewed your blog you are linking to. You must have about 200 other blogs in your “blogroll”. That cannot be good at all. How many of those blogs you are linking to are to bad neighborhoods? That would be a reason your blog is where it is now. Not only do you link out to many blogs on your front page, but you also have another page with about 200 more blogs you are linking to.

    Anyway; If there is anything at all Google should do, it’s to “NOT” be more transparent than what they already are. I hope to hell they don’t continue on giving seo’s and webmasters more and more and more, as we see clearly what it’s gotten them…… more and more google bashing out there with no end in sight. The more ya give, the more they will want in return. If they don’t get “more”, they will continue to whine and cry out there. IE: Awall

    I’m thinking about buying a few sites. I want to make sure I can get ALL the inbound links transferred so I hope Google will “guarantee” me that all the links will be transferred to my liking. If not, I’ll start whining and calling Google evil.

    If you think about it; how nuts does that sound? But yet, that’s what we hear out there.

  135. Doug –

    Surely it is my right as a blogger to link to as many sites as I want to link to? They are all fellow bloggers, all blogs that I personally read. There is not one bad neighbourhood there that I know of, and if there is I’d like to know WHY they are considered a bad neighbourhood.

    The blogroll is on my sidebar as well as on a blogroll page – both link to the exact same blogs.. This is possibly something I could look at changing however I don’t believe it has anything to do with the situation.

    I’m sorry but a blogroll can’t make my page rank go from a 4 to a 0 overnight – especially when I’ve had that blogroll there when I was given the 4.. There is something else going on here, and I’d like to know what it is. I am not the only person who has been affected and those people have their own blogrolls – none of which has anything to do with this drop as far as I can tell.

    If Google are going to penalize people for things, they should have the balls to come out and say what those things are. The misinformation out there is doing Google harm as a company. It might not seem like it is, but it IS. I tried to call Google to speak to someone, and could not get in touch with a human being at all. That’s customer service right there!

    So Matt, if you thought that Aaron Wall guy was anti-google, you’re going to hate the reaction of bloggers who currently feel like they have been given the raw pineapple treatment by a company they have supported and used the services of.

    Me personally, I’m done. No more Google searches, no more Google reader, no more Google calendar and I’m closing my gmail accounts. If Google want to treat me like some kind of criminal I simply won’t use their services and as a blogger I will certainly encourage others to do the same thing. I know I am not the only blogger saying such things today.

    Snoskred.

  136. tony spencer

    its important to note that doug heil has offered his number to help broker a peaceful end to this crisis. honorable. very carter inspired.
    :)

    seriously though, i’m surprised to see this acknowledgment from cutts. aaron has a valid reason to be pissed. we’ve all been screwed by the giant. the first time is usually very warranted. the second time maybe as well. but then you get hit on the one you went super clean with and it leaves a very bad taste. makes you want to tear up the SERPs just for the shear revenge.

  137. Doug missed a word in there, I think.

    What Doug (probably) meant to say was: how many blogs that you’re linking to are linking to bad neighborhoods in turn? In other words, how many links are you giving to people who plug scumnuts? How much of a chance are you prepared to take that all those blogs are, and are going to remain, squeaky clean?

    Mind you, I don’t believe that’s the answer:

    http://www.untwistedvortex.com/2007/08/21/blog-review-life-in-the-country/
    http://blog.eepoh.com/2007/10/25/site-review/

    Those are rather odd, considering the comment here:

    http://superbloggingtips.com/2007/07/75-ways-to-increase-your-sites-traffic/#comment-648

    and here:

    http://cooladzine.blogspot.com/2007/07/links-to-paid-to-blog-ptb-series.html#comment-5326852198123606033

    You’re telling me those reviews were done out of the goodness of people’s hearts? Cut the BS, already. This is exactly the kind of crap Google should be targeting.

  138. Wow! I actually read all of the comments here and I’ve been reading Aaron’s posts concerning Google for a very long time. He does and has said a lot of nice things about Google over the years that I think was not really noted here at all. So even though there has been some recent animosity and not-so shining remarks from him on how Google may treat a site, how paid-for links or nofollow are handled by Google, or how authority sites get preferential treatment for “xyz,” I for one believe all of the posts Aaron’s made hold some merit. Many of these posts you’re talking about do not seem just completely off the wall.

    The last time I looked, this was America and Aaron or anyone else has the right to speak their mind about Google, MSN, Yahoo, or whoever else they felt like. Matt, of course you do as well, otherwise we would not all be commenting here.

    What I don’t really understand is the full intent of this post. I agree with Bill and a few others that this post does seem a bit passive-aggressive by pointing Aaron out individually and going on to say “Suffice it to say that in my opinion there is another side to Aaron’s story. I’m on the fence about whether to talk about the specifics of what’s going on with Aaron. What do people think?”

    Matt, you obviously ‘know’ what your opinion is and it seems like you are promoting “a public voting for [Aaron's] lynching” as he puts it on his own blog. IMO this doesn’t seem like a good platform for this type of post at all.

    I’m glad that you guys finally spoke and perhaps worked things out but I’m just wondering why you’d allow people to vote on such a topic and lead people to believe you’re likely going to post full details. Seems kind of strange to do so. But that’s just my $0.00002

  139. I have to totally agree with Patrick Altoft. Why all the cloak and dagger stuff? It’s the the “not knowing” or lack of communications that starts most problems in business and life.

    But, if you feel you can give Aaron some explanations, you need to give us all the same.

  140. michelle

    I’d like to see a polite answer. I know managing many sites, I’ve never received a confirmation as to what caused a +30, +950 or removal penalty. I don’t expect ever to… though doing so would have caused me to be able to fix problems far faster, rather than in a scatter gun appoach, probably doing lots of useless stuff.

    I know addressing the issues of one person, is generallly not the Google way. I am also non-plussed by the link bait argument, if Aaron gets some… good. I’ve heard of several companies penalised by Google threatening legal action in the media just for this reason but I don’t think its the issue.

    Plenty of people read Google Webmaster Guidelines, and can honestly say they still don’t know what they did wrong.

    Matt, help Aaron. I’d prefer it was my site you detailed as to why it was penalisd, but if in helping Aaron I can learn something, then help him.

  141. Matt – I think you need to get into some kind of dialogue with Aaron. There’s a lot of fear and distrust in the SEO community and Aaron (and Michael Grey) are voicing those concerns on behalf of a lot of others.

    That community looks to you in part to explain what’s going on. The hand-editing of a site Aaron was behind is a case in point. I myself have suffered a horrendous drop in traffic from Google and I have no idea why it’s happening. The webmaster console is no help whatsoever and there seems to be no direct way of getting in contact with a human being to discuss.

    All this leads to frustration and distrust on my part. As someone who relies on the income from my site – and I believe I’ve abided by the webmaster guidelines – inexplicable drops in ranking are scary. The least we can get is some clear answers as to what’s going on.

    So yes, please address Aaron’s comments. It would be helpful to all of us.

  142. On some levels I totally understand Aaron’s gripe and it is not without justification. Google are penalizing sites and not telling site owners why are doing this. The webmaster tools – while a good concept is smoke and mirrors – no notification to why Google penalize a site.

    I say the above because recently I came in for a damn good ‘ass-kicking’ from Google in the PR side of things. We didn’t deserve it as we had not been link buying and gained all of our links through good content and tools. There was no explanation to why we were ‘skewered’ at the Google stake. We couldn’t ask for an explanation through webmaster tools, and neither did Google offer an explanation. Instead out of sheer frustration we had to go public on one of Matt’s posts (something which I hate doing when it concerns out work), did we get a reply, NO!

    This whole thing has become one long exercise in frustration and disappointment. Lots of hard work going into websites and working as much as possible within Google’s guidelines for webmasters only to still get screwed around. Yes, this is a bit of a rant, but we are at wits end looking for answers from what was once an accessible and friendly corporation to now increasingly less friendly and less committed to the very people who have supported them throughout the years.

  143. Anti-Google?

    In my opinion, if you are anti-Google, you’re an idiot. Didn’t pull any punches there, did I? :)

    What do Google owe you? You may feel that you have helped Google to get where they are – maybe in a small way you have, with adsense, PPC or something like that. Fair enough.

    But, as an SEO, I base my business model on my ability to deal with Google SERPs. That’s my choice, I am hostage right now to what Google is doing and if you don’t understand that, don’t accept it, and gripe about what Google is doing, then you don’t possess the circumspection to be in the game. My homepage PR just went from 6 to 4. It didn’t upset me in the slightest. I remain sanguine. If it went to PR0 I might be upset, sure, but I’d pick up the pieces, because that’s what you do if life gives you a knock. I wouldn’t bitch because I can totally accept that I base my livelihood on something out of my control and I’m not narcissistic enough to believe that anyone else but myself owes me a living of any sort.

    Remember, it’s your choice and your choice alone to base your business model on what Google does – if you take a hit on your business profits because Google change something, or if you rely on Google to keep making money (just as I do), then it’s pointless bitching when the inevitable happens and, SHOCK HORROR, something at Google changes.

    Snoskred’s overreaction is bizarre, for example. Completely dropping everything Google because her PR went from 4 to 0. Snoskred wouldn’t even know her PR if Google hadn’t given her a free toolbar. Nor would any of the rest of you unless you worked for Google, probably. Looks like they’ve just given you a stick to beat them over the head with. Anyway, as Doug says, the blogroll is the first place I’d look at if I had to work out why Snoskred’s PR dropped. In any case, I suspect that Snoskred’s PR is now more than O because on Google UK, out of 313,000 pages that contain the exact phrase “life in the country”, hers is third. But, oh, look at the blank grey toolbar! Kill Google! Get a grip. Snoskred, take a look at Google’s guidelines on links per page as well.

    Anyhow, even if Google didn’t tell you your own PR, there’d still be people crying because their number one ranking dropped off or something else, as if Google don’t have the right to deal, order and weight their SERPs exactly however they want.

    Anyway, we didn’t make Google big. Google did that themselves by delivering the best search results – I remember it well. Adwords and Adsense didn’t get them huge traffic – good SERPs did. Adwords and Adsense get them money, but onl because their traffic was so big in the first place, and their traffic was only so big because they gave the best SERPS. So stop bleating that “we made Google big” because we didn’t.

    Anyway, that’s my tuppence.

  144. JLH

    I’m holding back on saying what I actually think of this turn of events, it’s too hard not to be snarky and regret it later.

  145. Sam

    Things to consider -

    * In business it is easier and more profitable to retain an existing customer than to get a new one. Similarly, in public relations it is easier (and much more beneficial) to address and set the facts straight for your FANS and neutral observers rather than to those who bad mouth you.

    * Do you want to set a precedent of contacting each web master who publicly bad mouth Google?

    I don’t see the need for you to personally explain something to Aaron privately – (To me) it appears that he knows what he did wrong (I don’t have to write a book on seo to know the first rule of seo – read every search engine’s guidelines and FOLLOW it). Secondly, he is just being plain rude and slanderous.

    His rants might be a reflection of the frustration he feels due the loss of income (he recently got married and that must add to the pressure) from his ‘poorly ranking’ site. This is understandable – but in such a case, since he has made the issue personal, I don’t think any explanation from you is going to change his current tone about Google.

    It would be more beneficial to the the webmasters if you write a more general post which only incidentally includes an explantion of what happened with Aarons site. For example, if Aarons site has indeed been penalized – you could write about how websites get penalized by Google and what can be done about such penalties. You can then cite specific examples and mention Aaron’s (and others) site.

  146. Hi Snoskred; Of course you can link to whoever you wish. At the same time, Google can do as they wish. It’s “always” been the case that sites “can be” penalized for linking to too many bad neighborhoods. It’s the owner’s responsibility to find out why something is happening. It’s not Google’s to do so. It never has been. Never should be. Hopefully, never will be. If you cannot figure things out, then find someone who can.

    When did this world’s humanity cease to take on it’s own responsibilities? It’s always someone else’s fault it appears. If you read the g guidelines, it clearly states about bad neighborhoods and who you link to makes a difference. It’s always been this way.

    “Many” of us believe that Google should keep QUIET. Period. Many of us believe that Google should NOT be picking out ONE SEO WHINER and giving them personal help as to how far they may be able to spam without going over the line. Many of you want this personal help as is seen in this thread. That’s crazy stuff guys/gals.

    Oh, and no Tony; I posted my number if Google is going to start giving people one on one personal assistance. I have no desire to broker anything between Matt and Aaron or Matt and anyone else. :)

  147. corey

    Doug, that’s a long way to come from two months ago when you said, “NO one in my community really cares about what Google says or does not say.”

    What forced you to become so concerned about what Google says and who they say it to?

  148. Hi Corey, Huh? I’ve always said I don’t believe it’s good that Google may pick out SEO’s to converse with. Playing favorites for whatever reason is not good. You can read a few posts above from others again as well regarding this exact same thing.

    I also have never believed it was good that Google “picks” certain SEO’s to hold meetings with at the Plex. Complete with NDA’s, etc. NOT a good thing. Matter of fact; I can think of Many firms more qualified to get invited to the Plex than those firms who have been invited…. Not including my firm. To me; that’s just as personal as calling them up to chat about their sites. Google started this personal stuff awhile ago and now doesn’t know what to do about it. I now have “two” things that I don’t like about G;

    1. The adsense quality guidelines are pathetic.
    2. Getting too damn personal with SEO’s and too transparent.
    3. Selling adwords to well-known blackhats and to those caught spamming them.

    okay well… there is three.

  149. I have noticed a few things about google and spam, although I am a realtor, not a webmaster. Google wants to give the user the stuff he/she is looking for, but in doing so, lots of mistakes are made, and in some instances, I truly believe that Google dictates how sites are constructed, because of the position that google is in, i.e. lord of the search engines. Also, users often do not get the best of what they are looking for. I have often noticed how inferior websites, especially in the real estate sector, are found at the top, and truly superior sites get little or no placement. I am sure google would like to change this if they could find a way. Not to boast, but I probably have one of the best real estate sites around, in so far as giving useful information to users, yet many inferior websites can be found above mine. A visual observation of my site would confirm what I purport, but since google does whatever it does by mathematical formulas, sometimes very important stuff is missed ot overlooked. That is my 2 cents worth. I am sure that you, Mr. Cutts, would love to solve this problem, but in the meantime users will continue to sometimes miss the best sites when searching with the google search engine.

  150. Well, you blown it now. More over-priced SEO Book PDFs sold.. Damn..

  151. Unfortunately, Google is headed down the same path that Standard Oil, AT&T and Microsoft went down and that path leads to anti-trust litigation in US Federal Court. I watched Microsoft struggle with this and I’d rather not see yet another company make the same mistakes.

    Start by getting rid of toolbar PR entirely. This will force the market to develop their own tools for web site value. Then Google can’t be accused of attacking competitors in the online advertising arena by manipulating their PageRank.

  152. Let’s be honest Google has P*ssed off a lot of people in what seems to be a cynical money motivated move that is unrelated to the reliance that G! is famed for. Hack bloggers are now deliberately opting out of the index so that now I can not use Google to find such blogs as “Vlad the affiliate” which makes Google less useful to me. Now I’ve not been touched by these changes apart from the fact that the blogs I like to read from time to time no longer show up in results. Irritating.

  153. dann404

    It’s so unfortunate that names came up in the heat of all of this, I’m sure it has been taken out of context.
    But then again Matt, your response is no more professional, I think you’re equally guilty in all of this.
    This is your personal blog and you can say whatever you want but the poll is just plain infantile, I’m really surprised. Also the reference to a lawsuit was completely irrelevant. Whether you like it or not, you can put up all the disclaimers you want, you are the face of Google to many.
    You do represent Google in many ways and you are the main source of real or perceived FUD that seems to spew from Google regularly.
    It’s not you but Google as a whole has become so greedy, demanding and overbearing in it’s conquest I can see a backlash similar to a certain software giant that Google is openly trying to dethrone.

  154. Harith

    Matt,

    I told you: “No matter how polite and constructive your response to Aaron Wall will be, he is going to continue on the Google bashing path and unethical approach to few issues as this one.”

    But you wouldn’t listen, Matt :)

    See for yourself how Aaron Wall continue his Google bashing crap:

    “I still believe that many of my Google criticisms and concerns are valid, but there is only so much Matt can do, and he is doing the best he feels he can, and probably far better than I could do if I had his job. The keyboard is mightier than the pen.”

  155. So true Mark!

    Here is how it works with Matt, if you want his attention post stuff to popular SEO hangouts like SEOmoz, Sphinn and SEL or grab a HUGE share of the SEO attentionsphere via a anti-google blog. Post about negative things like how Google is throwing babies out of the train and Matt will come running cuz it is his job. I could post about a majorly important issue like how Google might slowly be doing away with organic search and would anyone even know I made the post from my lessor known blog? Nope, Matt is a fire ranger, why put out little fires when they will go out on their own?

    Aaron Wall has been a BIG fire of misinformation lately so Matt wanted to pick at the root of his anger (his failed website) to explain it was not Google, it was his webmastering or lack-of. Can I get a friggin’ hoorah? :)

    - For those of you who gain attention by exposing how cool you are at gaming google you are fools and doing nobody any favors.

    - For those of you who fill webmasters heads with incorrect data you are more responsible for all the failed sites than Google’s algorithm tweaks.

    Who broke it? You did!!

  156. corey

    So then you do care about what Google says or does not say. I don’t want to hijack Matt’s comments, but it appears that the things you said on Sugarrae’s blog (surely you remember threatening a lawsuit over some blog comments only two months ago) are no longer true.

  157. corey

    last comment for doug

  158. That’s what I have heard Mark…. but I also heard any amount would be over-priced for it. :-) Shoot; many of us would love to get some lovins from Google, and some of us are not selling ebooks either. LOL

    People are “afraid” in our industry to speak up and out about any other who may be on sullivan’s good side. Of course; I’ve never been afraid of that whatsoever, and it’s good that a few others in here are being upfront now and speaking their mind as well. Like Aaron Pratt stated; “BIG fire of misinformation” could not be more true.

    But ya know; all this stuff would cease if Google would stop trying to cater to webmasters and SEO’s and get on with concentrating on the real people trying to find what they are looking for. That market is far, far larger by far than any type of SEO market who whines on the one hand while trying to get Google to take them to dinner on the other hand, and while doing so succeeds at swaying a great number of bloggers who simply follow that type of crowd.

  159. LOL Corey; There are a few of you who simply want me to die. That’s fine buddy. I love you for it as I would not be chuckling all the time without people like you out there. And for the record bud; that sugarae person (whatever the name is) did the right thing as what that member wrote was so totally false and very, very rude. And BTW: ya know who it was, right? That “link monger broker firm” who tricks Google and also tricks “anyone” who happens to buy a link through them. ONE DAY Google will ban them from the index along with ALL other link brokers who’s only business model is to trick Google into thinking their 3rd party links are votes. Ain’t it funny that all link mongers seem to hang together at certain type blogs?? That ray person flat out states her entire biz model is based on buying links for clients. If that ain’t a poor model, I have no idea what is.

    Don’t tell me about what I said or did not say. You are reaching into things you know almost zero about. And yes; you indeed took this thread off topic.

  160. >> “all” names you read mentioned in that thread are damn speakers and “buds” of danny sullivan.

    Like you, Doug – I mean, you’re a former speaker of mine, too. But since this thread started out about disclosure of motives etc, let’s remember how you offered to stop slamming me in public if only I would unite with you to produce conferences:

    http://www.threadwatch.org/node/8828#comment-44736

    I suppose I should have done that and had you give up on the sullivanbaiting you push so hard and that I generally ignore after having given you ample time, attention and consideration in the past.

    But hey, got a panel for you – SMX West has a debate on search marketing standards, and if we need them – when I reopen the pitch form in a week, let me know if you want on. Happy to involve you.

    >> Here is how it works with Matt, if you want his attention post stuff to popular SEO hangouts like SEOmoz, Sphinn and SEL

    Actually, the only people who post to Search Engine Land are one of the editors. And as Andrew recently noted, we cited 500 different sources in a three month period:

    http://blog.arhg.net/2007/11/search-engine-lands-secrets-mining.html

    Your site is on our regular reading list, so yeah – if you had something that was a big issue, we’d notice and link as we do constantly through the day.

  161. Correction @ Doug Heil –

    “stop trying to cater to webmasters and SEO’s”

    (should be)

    “stop trying to cater SEO’s”

    webmasters are EXACTLY who Google needs to cater to more often and they are currently doing a pretty good job if you follow “webmaster tools” and spend any time in the “google webmaster help forums”. The problem is, the anti-google crowd is much louder, this mutes any good word and progress in webmaster relations. A very difficult situation to be in… even for Google!

    Just by the volume of your posts Doug I can tell you have not been allowed to play in any SEO reindeer games. Calm down, Santa is looking for a few good replacements for aging Donner and Blitzen. =P

  162. It’s dangerous to add to a thread that has the same person posting every other comment, and so late in the discussion. But since I am independently fed up with Google these days, I take a risk.

    Matt it’s easy to pick a few technical specifics of Aaron’s post to reply to, especially the personal ones. It’s a short cut to discrediting Aaron… just find a few valid reasons for ranking changes etc. and show that he was not entirely correct in his SEO of the 301 or whatever. You’ll get lots of kudos from the contrarian crowd. I’d rather see you forgive his emotional involvement, and instead address the larger issues.

    Google is openly competitng with web publishers and monetizing both sides of the ad business, executing censorship of the web via the Google SERPs. That’s your business model. It interferes, and it can be anticompetitive. But you’re innovating, so you have some honeymoon allowances. Aaron is at the forefront of those boundaries… the bleeding edge. So am I, and independent from Aaron, I encounter similar “difficulties”. Address those… that would be a very welcomed discussion.

  163. Harith

    john andrews

    “Google is openly competitng with web publishers and monetizing both sides of the ad business, executing censorship of the web via the Google SERPs.”

    Do you have any documentation to support your claim? or is it another Google bashing crusade?

    Publishers are benefiting of Google in several ways:

    - Free organic traffic

    - Partnership in AdSense program

    - Partnership in AdWords program

    - Google making valuable tools available for publishers through Google Webmaster Central

    Would you call that Google “competitng with web publishers” and “executing censorship” :)

  164. AussieWebmaster

    Guys can’t we all just get along…..

    Why don’t you guys get together at Chicago SES and order some take out! and discuss the difference

  165. mrg

    @ Aaron Pratt


    and they are currently doing a pretty good job if you follow “webmaster tools” and spend any time in the “google webmaster help forums”.

    I actually spent considerable amount of time at the ‘groups’ mostly helping but when requested help for a specific problem I got none, The one person who attempted to help then backed off, even after 5+ personal phone calls (his number was listed). That is not to say the forums are not helpful. For many, they probably are. SEOs I contacted took my money and offered a scant “the problem has not yet been fixed” as for their diagnose without ever saying what the problem was. Only one individual found out one grave problem and that was only a lucky break.

    After 15 months of being banned, going above and beyond the guidelines, improving the site weekly, spending north of 10k in new scripts, content and my time (still a lot of changes needed and about 2 more months) and after 9 reconsideration requests, messages like Aaron Wall’s have the potential to resonate deeply… Like me, there maybe many more webmasters who wonder about his posts.

  166. SomeGuyWhoIsNotSEOFamous

    Of course, please do review Aaron’s case. I am sure you will do the same for me when I have an issue!

  167. Actually, Aaron, Doug was right about webmasters and SEOs from a purely search point of view. Google’s end user has never been the SEO nor has it been the webmaster…it has been, is, always will be the searcher (as it should be.) The problem is that there are too many people looking at it from a vested-interest perspective (like your best friend Wall) who fire the opening salvos about how Google is screwing this up and screwing that up and how they’re doing this and that, and then turn around five minutes later and say “Google is creating an adversarial relationship with webmasters and SEOs.”

    What Wall is all about isn’t necessarily the misinformation, but the political jockeying via propaganda and rhetoric. He’s created the SEO equivalent to the Order of the Solar Temple for himself, and all his followers will go with him blindly. It’ll be really easy to follow him too…just look for 500,000 totally organic and whitehat links to a single website that have appeared in the last 15 minutes, like all organic and whitehat links do.

    The big point here, and the one everyone will miss, is the one Pratt actually pointed out: guys like Wall and other so-called industry leaders are at least partly responsible for big G not being all that it can be.

    And Doug, I want you to die too…but that’s only because I hear that I get your TV and stereo equipment in your will. Strictly mercantile reasons…nothing personal.

  168. When you try searching for an eye doctor in San Francisco but can’t find one because most of the organic and ppc results are for cosmetic and lasik, you begin to think SEO is spam. When you can’t use Google to find a doctor because the results are all doctored up, it’s a problem.

  169. @Harith: When Google monetizes verticals via the SERPs it is competing with publishers. When Google sets prices based on “quality” there is a risk that the quality criteria will compete with publishers, hence the existence of collaboratively-developed industry standards (they provide some transparency). Google doesn’t do standards — Google owns it all and keeps it under wraps.

    When Google removes domains and pages for non-spam reasons, it is censoring.

    Just because Google gives some back after the fact (e.g. webmaster tools) doesn’t level the playing field. A “partnership” should be optional and the terms negotiable. AdWords/Adsense offers neither.

    Personally I am amazed at the level of discussion here on Matt’s blog. I expected better, but perhaps I am the last to leave.

  170. JLH

    John Andews said, “Personally I am amazed at the level of discussion here on Matt’s blog. I expected better, but perhaps I am the last to leave.”

    Most profound thing I’ve read here in months.l

  171. Harith

    john andrews

    “Personally I am amazed at the level of discussion here on Matt’s blog.”

    In fact there is a high level of discussion here on Matt’s blog. However many of us just don’t like Aaron Wall “The King of Bitching and Whining” continuous Google bashing crap.

  172. jim

    Goog is dirty. wake up…end of story

  173. jim

    Aaron Wall, adding to you comment
    - “how Google can buy YouTube and tightly integrate it into the search results, but if smaller webmasters buy sites and fix them up to improve user experience they are somehow considered spammers.”
    -Google knowingly buys YouTube that has Flagrant copyright infringements gone wild. Goog decided to not followi the law and knew at that time YouTube would have died, if they did. In fact Google knowingly rode this fame and profited while the original artists and businesses lost. This is the kind of company Goog has become. Short Goog their going to pay out big on this one. I think Aaron has a case, however he would have to win the subpoena for disclosure of the algorithm.

  174. Respond with dignity.

  175. Terrell

    @john andrews I wouldn’t leave, if you ignore the Matt Cutts-groupie-suck-ups, the discussion is quite decent.

  176. What’s the point in lobbing shots back at him? He’s just pointing out a few things that I’ve noticed as well. I’d say if there are adjustments to be made, make them and move on. Otherwise, just ignore it.

  177. Anton

    I think you should reply.
    It is important to clarify a position of your company.
    There is another Googler’s blog, where you can find a lot of important clarifications about Google policies.

  178. Vincent

    Harith Said:

    “In fact there is a high level of discussion here on Matt’s blog. However many of us just don’t like Aaron Wall “The King of Bitching and Whining” continuous Google bashing crap.”

    Outside of your undying admiration for Matt and everything Google – the last time I checked – free speech was very much on the agenda!

    I can’t see where this has turned into “Google bashing crap” at all – people voicing there opinions on a blog about some thing they feel strongly about hardly constitutes bashing. There is a problem at the moment and clearly others feel very strongly about it.

  179. Just to quickly reply to Multi-word Adam re the reviews –

    Yes, the one on Untwisted Vortex was out of the goodness of his heart – he reviews blogs. He’ll review yours too, if you ask.

    I did purchase 5 blog reviews via sponsored reviews thanks to a $100 certificate on search engine journal but I specifically made it clear any links to my site were to be made no follow – I did not want to buy links. I moved to WordPress and I wanted actual opinions on the site. If you check the code on the reviews, you’ll find they all contain no follow. I double checked the code myself. If any of the bloggers had not made the links no follow I would have disputed their reviews.

    We all have the right to ask for our sites to be reviewed. There’s plenty of sites on the net who will do it for free, but sometimes you want the opinion of someone you don’t know and paid reviews can be an excellent way to do that.

    Any reviews that have ever been done by me on my snoskred.org site all contain no follow on the links. It clearly states that on the advertise page. “Snoskred will always disclose when a post has been paid, and all links to advertisers sites will be made nofollow to comply with Google’s terms of service.” – it has stated that on the page ever since the page was created.

    If I were ever to purchase more reviews – which I may well decide to do – it would be made clear to the reviewers that the links are to be no follow.

    So what precisely did I do wrong there?
    Snoskred

  180. Actually I should clarify –

    Any reviews – that is any PAID reviews. I review things for free and I reserve the right to be able to link to those sites as any blogger would. They may be things I like, things I enjoy, movies, music. I’m allowed to talk about the things I like, surely?

    I write an excellent review, even if I do say so myself.
    Snoskred

  181. BLOTS

    It makes me laugh a site saying to google I defend the right to link……

    How fucked up you have become…. Google

  182. You may want to check that eepoh one, because, while the review itself contains the rel=”nofollow” attribute, the one in the blogroll doesn’t. So whether you meant to or not, you have bought a link in that particular case. It may seem like a stretch, but that’s one of those situations where if you fire a gun off by accident and the bullet hits a guy in the head and kills him, you still killed the guy, even if you didn’t mean to.

    (Again, that’s assuming you’re telling the truth.)

    I don’t know about the other four blogs, but they may well turn up the same.

  183. I think that you should ignore Aarons’ ad hominem attacks, respond to his substance and let the whole of the web know what is honestly being asked of us.

    In a very real sense, our livelihoods can depend on how our sites rank on Google. It’s not unreasonable to ask for a -complete- copy of the rules of the game. No late-night chicken waving … just 1-2-3-grow.

    I have good content, ~100% original and frequently (basically daily, sometimes more often, rarely less) updated (I was tied up today but I usually get out about 2,000 fully-edited words a day), some ads, but no more than about 15% of the page, some photos (with alt & title text) relevant to the rest of the content, my links are search able and so on. But I rather suspect that if you don’t ask for them by name, you’ll never encounter my sites. My best guess is that nearly 100% of my traffic comes from humans following links in my blog comments.

    I’m going to look Aaron up to see if he has valid points (my first response was “Aaron Who?”) and maybe a tip or two that will allow me to incrementally climb the ranks. I don’t deserve to be at #1 position yet, but I also don’t think I want to stay at page 413 obscurity.

  184. Adam –

    She is now a reader of my blog – she chose to link to me. I didn’t pay her to do that and the instructions with the review were very specific about no follow – you can see the code in the review. Eepoh was one of the ones who contacted me to ask how to do it, several of the reviewers were unsure about the code and only one of them had ever heard of No Follow before. Hmm. Not readers of this blog, I’m guessing. But could the problem be that Google has not told anyone officially what they have to do to avoid a penalty?

    I don’t see how someone can be penalized because someone *liked* their blog or site after reviewing it, and decided to link to it in their blogroll! Seriously!?! Should I contact her and ask her to remove me? I don’t think so!

    Again, the whole thing is way out of control. Welcome to Germany in the war years – will Google be burning printed out versions of websites next? Or actual books, perhaps?

    Or will it be the rest of the internet burning printed out versions of the Google site?

    And Matt was concerned about ONE person being anti-Google – Google has a lot more to worry about than Aaron Wall.

    Snoskred

  185. Harith

    Vincent

    “Outside of your undying admiration for Matt and everything Google – the last time I checked – free speech was very much on the agenda!”

    The current issue is not about Matt Cutts, its about the continuous bitching and whining of Aaron Wall which have started his Google bashing Campaigns “coincidently” just about the same time when Google started penalizing paid links merchants attempts to manipulate PageRank rating system.

    In fact Aaron Wall has declared his unethical approach to paid link on his own blog and I have already wrote about it.

    In the current issue, Aaron Wall represents the bunch of unethical SEOes who are attacking Google and to some extent Matt Cutts for not being allowed to spam Google through Paid links as they use to do.

  186. Castor

    It’s quite interesting how two persons are dealing the matter on the phone. Please call me also Mat, I also had a website down because of google errors.
    Thanks.
    Indeed, useless post.

  187. “When I was once a young admin. I screemed as Matt Cutts from google
    about feed aggregators stealing or taking credt for my content, he
    replied something like, “don’t worry about it, all those links can
    actually help. To expand upon the idea you should only worry if google
    doesn’t know you originated the content, let’s check.

    In this case it appears that google doesn’t know who originated the
    content”

    http://groups.google.com/group/Google_Webmaster_Help-Indexing/browse_thread/thread/b808fc89d21a4ef1/022d08814e4db01c#022d08814e4db01c

    Mr. Matt, Would you like to check this out, please?

    Have a nice sunday! :)

  188. What i cannot understand is this.

    By making the post here on the blog, Matt gives Aaron all the publicity he can handle, more traffic and a bigger soapbox to shout from.

    Aaron responds by posting an article on his own blog, maximising his status online by being one of only a few that provoke Google into a reaction.

    Aaron wins.

    He may have been a forces dropout and had a less than perfect life up-to-date, who hasn’t, but he has found his vocation in life, because the lad is one smart online marketer and I for one champion him.

    Who’s right and who’s wrong matters not here. What matters is that Aaron Wall has proved yet again that his methods create traffic.

  189. Vincent

    Harith said:

    In the current issue, Aaron Wall represents the bunch of unethical SEOes who are attacking Google and to some extent Matt Cutts for not being allowed to spam Google through Paid links as they use to do.

    I understand the issue here is about Aaron’s comments – but other comments that are loosely related and relevant to Aaron’s gripe have come into play here. It’s not about Google bashing – I for one don’t want to bash Google but at the same time have issues with how Google can treat a site without some form of explanation. It’s easy to say if you don’t like it then don’t use it. But, it has become such a mainstream of internet use that there needs to be some better oversight to how the company utilizes it’s algorithm to rank a website. Just like Google has rules so there should be a set of rules that protect a site owner and this IMO should come with better notification when things go wrong. I don’t agree with purchasing links to bad neighborhoods, I also don’t agree with telling tales either on sites that may or may not have purchased links. I felt that was very under the belt and a low blow to persuade webmasters and others to start this kind of campaign. This is when I feel there should be some kind of oversight body to watch this.

    When people’s livelihoods are at stake there will always be heated and emotional reactions. This last PR and algorithm update was quite aggressive (IMO) and some of have felt it. Whether they were in the wrong, or in the right they want answers, not to necessarily bash Google.

  190. Hi!

    Most people think that there is a relation between the percentage of lawyers in the population and their grade of being civilized.

    But I thing more lawyers in the population means,
    that there are more controversies in between the people.

    Greetings Karl

  191. I’d say that you should not respond and that you should stop blogging. At this point any thing that you say can and will be used against you in court.

    As a victim of your practices, I hope you do not take that advice. :)

  192. I missed lots of stuff:

    Harith wrote:

    “In the current issue, Aaron Wall represents the bunch of unethical SEOes who are attacking Google and to some extent Matt Cutts for not being allowed to spam Google through Paid links as they use to do.”

    And that my friends sums up this entire thread and the whole issue very, very nicely. SO true.

  193. Dave (original)

    For those who may THINK Arron Wall has a vested interest in slamming Google for NOT allowing SE spam, you are completely correct!

    His online writings have caused LOTS of ignorant Webmasters & “SEO” to pay a high price.

    Arron has NEVER been what I would consider to be a SEO, he is a SES (Search Engine Spammer).

    I can only guess Google keeps him close, like it does all SE spammers, as it pays to always keep enemies closer than friends.

  194. Thanks for weighing in, everyone. I especially appreciate the well-thought-out comments. Lots of people say that they don’t mind snark, but a lot of commenters also urged me not to get into responding to negative allegations. I am going to discuss this claim, but I’m going to avoid going into specifics about what the sites were.

    The short answer is that Aaron obtained and promoted a domain in ways that Google considers blackhat, then combined/intertwined that spammy domain with a more legitimate domain. When Google detected the stuff that we considered spam, we took action against both domains.

    My takeaway advice for anyone in a similar situation is “Don’t mix your blackhat networks with your whitehat sites.” I’ll tell a couple anecdotes to illustrate that:

    - At a search engine conference, I was once talking to a group of blackhat spammers. This was years and years ago. If the name “toolman” doesn’t ring a bell, this was before your time. I wanted to know how well Google was doing, so I asked the blackhats if they’d ever had domains get caught. “Are you kidding?” one SEO said. “You torched my entire spam network to the ground!” The fact is that if we find blackhat spam, such as off-topic porn for peoples’ names, Google (and probably any other search engine) will try to root that spam out and prevent it from ranking again.

    - A few years ago, I discovered that a very well-known catalog retailer (I just got a catalog from them this week, in fact) was doing really spammy stuff on their own site. If the retailer was http://www.example.com, then the spam was on www2.example.com and it included a ton of doorway pages. Unbeknownst to the catalog retailer, the SEO in charge of www2.example.com had also inserted links back to the SEO and the SEO’s clients on the spammy doorway pages. So if the SEO was shadyseo.com, then www2.example.com was filled with spammy doorways and secret links to shadyseo.com and lots of Shady SEO’s other clients. Google removed example.com (even though it was a large company) because of the spammy doorway pages. Mixing the blackhat/spammy doorway pages on the whitehat content of example.com was a Bad Idea.

    So Aaron combined some sites in a way that I wouldn’t recommend. At all. :) When I noticed Aaron complaining about the situation, I looked into it myself and concluded that Google had actually been pretty lenient from our perspective. But I can also see the situation more from Aaron’s eyes after talking with him last week. The resolution that I suggested (and that I’d suggest to anyone in a similar situation) was to disentangle the blackhat-ish site from the other site. I recommended that after severing the ties between the sites, then Aaron could do a reconsideration request on the more legitimate domain.

  195. Dave (original)

    Aaron Wall has non-spammy sites? Miracles never cease.

    IF Aaron and his blackhat buddies were ONLY damaging their OWN sites, I would not be so concerned. Truth is though, they publish the blackhat spammy ways all over the place under the guise of SEO.

    I really wish Google would take a top down approach on SE spam, Matt. That is, if a SEO or company gets a single page banned, they too should be banned! Google should also show a list of SEO companies that have been banned. This way, they are a lot less likely to do blackhat stuff and prey on the uniformed ignorant masses!

  196. Hi Matt, that is a really useful explanation, and I have even tried to extend the olive branch a little on the paid reviews situation in the past when I reported my own reviews using the form provided, as soon as it was provided asking for feedback when you yourself were looking for feedback.

    I think one of the problems is when not all sites are treated the same for effectively the same effect.

    As an example why don’t Google’s own media buyers insist that when they are sponsoring events like leweb3, that the sitewide advertising links are all nofollowed.

  197. an

    Dude, why are you talking about seo companies that should be banned? I have 10-15 clean sites, and 2 weeks ago I created a dynamic link exchange system between my own sites. Result? I got already 5 sites penalized (from #1 I dropped to #200 or #300).
    So, in Google opinion, every guy having 10 is some kind of “dangerous organization”.
    We can not talk about paid links. I just wanted to get more traffic, not even good ranking because I was between first and third result of SERPS for each site, for keywords used in anchor texts. Google penalizing system sucks a lot.

  198. A cunning ploy to sell more SEO Books

    David

  199. Matt, I appreciate you stopping by and commenting. I replied to you but do not expect for you to pass my way again. ;) You recommended starting discussions about specific topics for organic search. With almost 300,000 discussions, there are many authoritative discussions in the topics you suggested (and all others related to our topic). The problem is that the spiders are not indexing the pages even though I have the set the crawl rate to faster. Even with the sitemap (which I used for over a year and did not help with indexed pages). Really, I appreciate your kindness much more than I can express. Thank you.

  200. And that shows the problem Google has with the SEO’s and webmasters. Help one, help them all. I vote to not help any of them.

    I think we now see why Matt chose to start a thread about this. It should be noted how AW left out the part of how he was using an owned domain to promote his new domain in such a way that was clearly against the G guidelines. Considering how much the “elites” in this industry praise and promote this SEO on a daily basis, it left Google not much of a choice. Places like Sphinn praise him almost daily, and all the SEO conferences ask him and a few blackhats to speak at many conferences, etc. As if he did not know what he was doing was spam, he should be grateful that Google told him exactly what was wrong so he could correct it. Maybe he will change his promotion tactics now?

  201. “The resolution that I suggested (and that I’d suggest to anyone in a similar situation) was to disentangle the blackhat-ish site from the other site. I recommended that after severing the ties between the sites, then Aaron could do a reconsideration request on the more legitimate domain.”

    Thanks for even more great advice Matt. I used my SEO blog as a test site and what you say is correct. You can in fact “disentangle” a site that associates with networks Google does not want in it’s index. People might also be amazed at how fast a site can bounce back once a link association is broken.

    The problem is, some of these self proclaimed “experts” have relied on gaming Google for so long that they just do not know how to build legitimate sites.

    At the same time Mr. Cutts and Google should also be watched, calling something “spam” can be used to kill off competition as John Andrews has pointed out a few times. Not that Matt would ever be actively involved in this type of thing but do watch the Universal Search excuse very closely. The more Googly widgets that appear above organic search the more troubling it gets. Picking away at organic search is a very real and dangerous thing when it comes to credibility, not even Matt can defend this with any logic. Those of you who sell product via organic search know exatly what I am talking about, it’s really sad!

    So yeah, I am not liking being fed incorrect data by the “John Chows” and SEO thought leaders but at the same time I am VERY concerned about where Google is heading. If anyone cares…

  202. My takeaway advice for anyone in a similar situation is “Don’t mix your blackhat networks with your whitehat sites.” I’ll tell a couple anecdotes to illustrate that:

    Wow, wow, wow, wow..

    I don’t know if anyone else read this part, but I have a big problem with this, since it suggests that blackhat techniques are okay if they’re kept separate from whitehat stuff. That statement has its own context too, so it’s not like I’ve taken it out of context, either.

    While I can understand that you don’t want to say “all blackhat stuff is wrong and you shouldn’t do it” because then most so-called SEOs will rant, rave and scream about how evil Google is and how the US antitrust laws will lay the smackdown upon Google’s candy ass, I think you went too far the other way with that statement.

    Clarification is needed here.

  203. Matt – The fact that your blog is here and was one of the first to engage the community (both here and in person) should speak volumes. Google has gone out of their way to document everything for the SEO community (and was the first). Evidently, it’s not enough, and ‘some’ will always try for the ‘quick top-10′ for whatever a non-techical CEO is paying. Your dialog helps the rest of us show the clients what happened to them.

  204. Danny

    Now, how can anyone say that Google is evil ?
    IMO, you guys are way too good and too forgiving.

    Spammers can make it to the top of the SERP’s and sooner or later Google will bust them. That’s good !
    But i often see it happen that before they get busted, organic links are being built, simply because the spammer’s site can be found on top. People find those sites, think they are good and put a link to them. (Note that people may even be penalized for putting that link eventhough the site can be found in the top10, but that’s another story.)
    Then the spam team comes along and penalizes the spammer’s site.
    The spammer cleans his site (and may have help with that from Google), asks forgiveness by making a reinclusion request and gets indexed again.
    But then, due to the organic links that were achieved while the site contained spam, i.e. links that would not have been there if the site was not found in the first place, the spammer may well rank on top of the serp’s again.

    Therefor, i’d suggest that all links that were achieved before the reinclusion request would be discounted forever.
    Too often those blackhats walk away with it too easily.

  205. Matt,

    Where do we report Google to Google for selling text link ads without using nofollow tags?

    See Google Mini Success Stories

    http://www.google.com/enterprise/mini/success_stories.html

    Nice PR7 Google link for $1,995 per month (plus you get some other stuff as well)

    Do you expect to knock http://www.google.com/enterprise/mini/ down to a PR0 anytime soon?

    If not why?

    Alternatively, would it be acceptable for lets say one of those directory sites to repackage itself as a service provider of some silly service like selling online storage space for documents and at the same time, they happen to provide customer testimonials (advertorials both ways) without using a nofollow link.

    So the question the lawyers or Congress will ask, is “What did you know? and When did you know it?”

  206. Very good points Multi Adam and Danny; ..both should be responded to. I actually think Matt was simply being “polite” to Awall in this case. As he stated; Google was “pretty lenient” to him.

    I honestly don’t know why Google feels the need to be so lenient to blackhats though. I also don’t know why our industry feels the need to be lenient to blackhats either. Isn’t cheating called cheating?

  207. Does this mean he’s going to rename his book “Black Hat SEOBook”?

  208. Don’t take any guff from them…

  209. Mr Heil – Go do some work will you – stop moaning.

  210. Mr. Saunders; I think I have did my homework. Have you? Why don’t you go read exactly what Matt Cutts stated, and then read exactly what Aaron Wall stated. Then come back to me and ask that again,…. ok?

    I think you are a blackhat butt kisser; right?

  211. ahhh David; Our good buddy “wavydavy” from Charlotte. :) What do you do… follow me around the net?

    BTW David; I should not have said you might be a butt kisser. There are “many” SEO’s in our industry that are indeed that. Many, many of them praise blackhats on a daily basis. As long as it’s “against” Google, those types are all for it. If you are indeed one of them… go for it. Don’t expect me or anyone I run with to praise you and others alike though. Check the front page of sphinn.com to see what I mean. The SEO industry is getting quite a name for the praising of blackhats within it. That’s not something I’d be very proud of and why some of us want to be as separated as we can be from that type of industry.

  212. wonderer

    as long as google want to make internet community as a pleasant one where we can find more good content than spam one and let healthy biz grow rapidly i would always be on google side. i really don’t feel good when money is the prime tools to determine the success of an online biz. i really like internet to be an open community to all that could let anyone who has dream will achieve their dreams when they put their heart and soul into their biz even though they haven’t got plenty of money to spare.

  213. Dave (original)

    Google penalizing system sucks a lot.

    Only for about .000001% of Google users. The vast majority cannot stop laughing when another spammer is outed :)

  214. Dave (original)

    MWA, I agree, Matt making that statement is indirectly condoning spam. While Google can and does likely catch more spam than slips through, SE spam robs Google users of relevant results and robs those NOT cheating of their rightful SERPs.

  215. Matt,

    It seems like a good question to answer here is “When do multiple domains linked to each other become spam and when is it OK?” If the Wall Street Journal links to a new site they have developed, in order to use the power of their original domain to drive traffic to the new site, Google will probably not hit either site as a spam site. But if a smaller Webmaster does it, they have been told they run the risk of being a spammer because they are creating a network to boost the rankings of all sites involved, when in fact they could simply be trying to promote new sites with an existing strong site, in the same manner as the Wall Street Journal, but on a smaller scale.

    So the question is, where’s the line? Is every Webmaster who uses one site to promote another considered a spammer and a few big names get whitelisted? Or is every “network” OK until Google finds it and a human makes a judgment call on whether it is spam or not?

    This seems to be a problem that a lot of Webmasters bring up. Google’s power has made some Webmasters afraid to link their Web sites together, even though Marketing 101 would tell you that that’s a smart, natural thing to do, at least if the sites are related content-wise. That seems like a problem Google should be trying to solve,or at least make the policy more transparent.

  216. Dave (original)

    Adam, the “line” is as stated in the Google Guidelines. That is, don’t try and manipulate the SERPs.

    IF the sites are related enough to link, then most likely ONE site is better. Why dilute and spread your PR?

    Just like buying and selling links. Do it for direct traffic *only* and play it safe by using nofollow.

    I hear all the time that SOME sites are given preferential treatment, but have never seen any proof of it. Google may simply always put it users 1st and NOT ban a high PR higly relevant & popular site. That doesn’t mean they are getting some sort of SERP boost for anything they are doing outside the guidelines though. Also, my main concern is MY site, nobody elses.

    I doubt there are many sites on the Web that are always within the Google Guidelines. Google likely only takes manual action IF their algo cannot cope, very rare IMO. I have always looked at it this way;

    You are very unlikely to always be within the guidelines all-the-time. So long as the vast majority you do is for your visitors and not SEs, you are very unlikely to run a-foul.

  217. Astrit

    Only for about .000001% of Google users.

    A pitty tho that that .000001% is the percentage of the webmasters, which you call Google users. The rest don’t even know the meaning of the word “webmaster” or “seo” (have you ever tried to explain SEO to a non tech guy or girl? The simple way to explain is “To be the first on Google” but don’t get deeper).

    Most of the penalizations I have seen made by Google on the recent month(s) are pretty much fair and in place. It is fair if those sites get penalization in PR since they do sell links and their prices are based on G’s PR. But my question is, what happens to those that don’t sell links but anyway trick Google’s algorithm (one example, ProBlogger and his contests to linkback to the contest page, or any other blog) isn’t that what we should call tricking the algorithm as well? Or it is tricking only when “money” is in question?

    What I see Google’s webspam team lack is in transparency and most of the penalization (at least from what I saw) were made to those that were tricking the algorithm and had a monetary benefit of it.

    As far as it regards penalization and deindexing of sites that use doorways and other spam techniques to rank higher in the SERPs than I have to agree that they deserve to be de-indexed, unfortunately those are the less heard stories and are kinda covered and shaded from the recent penalizations.

  218. Dave,

    What if you are a site called “Dave’s Shoes” and you start a new site called “Dave’s Pants”? Those are related, but it’s clear that you would want a different Web site for the Pants store. But by linking them up, there may be some fear that Dave’s Shoes will be hurt by linking to Dave’s Pants, or that maybe both will be removed. Problem is, linking these two sites is good for business AND good for PR, at least in terms of how we basically think of Google’s linking system working. So, what’s a business to do? Not link to avoid Google danger, or link to cross-promote what is a natural linkage between two related types of products?

    I agree with your basic premise that if you fly right, you’ll be fine. But in a case like this where an action could be seen as an attempt to manipulate search results when in fact it’s a natural and correct thing to do (and hey Dave’s Pants will take the extra PR if it can get it), I believe some Webmasters have a fear of making the link, especially if the first site is getting a lot of Google traffic.

  219. Adam; You are asking about something that you cannot possibly know unless you look at the exact situation. I know I’ve warned people about linking up two or more sites together before and other times I said to not worry about it. There is no line you cross as each situation is different. Believe me; there is LOTS more to what Awall was doing than what he is posting. Google called it “blackhat”. It’s blackhat. Here is what Wall is stating “right now” about things:


    And my site that was allegedly “black hat spam” is better looking than the #1 ranking site, has higher content quality, was referenced multiple times by governmental entities without even begging the for links, dominated the search results for years prior to being detected. It was only detected because I posted about it on my blog. And yes, over 95% of it’s link equity was clean and organic and I still think they were a bit spiteful to wipe away all my link equity, even the 12,000+ organic links I built.”

    So lets see now; He claims HIS SITE is the “better looking” site with “higher content quality” and referenced, yada dada do. It “dominated” the serps, etc, etc, etc. It was this. It was that. It was all that and much, much more. LOL

    But then this classic:

    “dominated the search results for years prior to being detected”

    In other words; it’s quite ok to spam Google “until you get caught”. That’s what ALL blackhats think at all times. That is what they teach as well. Spam away they say…. until you get caught. Awall truly believes his damn site was the very best out there eventhough he knows damn well he was spamming Google with it. He now whines about being caught for spamming and is still spinning things like a top. Pathetic stuff.

    Read it here:
    http://sphinn.com/story/14467

    That’s right; sphinn is the only place I know of who will freely allow Awall and other spammers to promote at will. The spin I’m reading about this issue is enough to make one sick.

  220. Dave (original)

    What if you are a site called “Dave’s Shoes” and you start a new site called “Dave’s Pants”? Those are related, but it’s clear that you would want a different Web site for the Pants store

    Not “clear” to me that one would “want” a different Web site. I would opt for a new folder and apty named pages within. Better for your customers and better for you, the site owner.

    But by linking them up, there may be some fear that Dave’s Shoes will be hurt by linking to Dave’s Pants, or that maybe both will be removed.

    UNLESS either site is doing some other blackhat tricks, I would bet London to a brick Google wouldn’t give it a second look.

    Don’t believe a word Aaron writes, he has always skewed facts and lied by omission. He, like most blackhats, has a vested interest in doing so too.

    Rely ONLY on the Google guidelines combined with common sense. Most “SEO” forums are full of uneducated guesses based on personal experience and sour grapes.

  221. Aaron Pratt, glad you had a good experience with disentangling stuff when you wanted to separate sites.

    “I don’t know if anyone else read this part, but I have a big problem with this, since it suggests that blackhat techniques are okay if they’re kept separate from whitehat stuff.”

    MWA, I’m happy to clarify. I think it’s a Bad Idea to do blackhat stuff. I absolutely do *not* condone blackhat spam. But if you have white hat properties, it’s even less recommended to mix blackhat-ish stuff with whitehat-ish stuff.

  222. Adam Jusko, good question. Let me start instead with talking about buying/transferring sites. The short answer is that there’s a spectrum of possible combining of sites or transferring sites. For example, when a real brick ‘n’ mortar business buys another brick ‘n’ mortar business that’s clearly okay. And when a website business buys a legitimate website business with people, that’s the sort of thing that you want to go smoothly as well.

    At the other side of the spectrum is stuff like buying expired domains, or buying sites purely in an attempt to benefit from their pre-existing links. One good question is “Is the business buying a single domain to build it out into a real domain, or are they buying several/multiple/many domains?” If someone is buying quite a few expired domains, that looks a lot worse. For example, I believe that typepad.com at one point was an expired domain, but Six Apart didn’t buy it for the pre-existing links, and they didn’t buy a bunch of domains like that. They bought that one domain and developed it into a well-known brand.

    Pulling it back to your example, I think it can make sense for companies/domains under the same umbrella corporation to be linked. I would look at things like scale (linking 5 domains is much different than linking 1500 domains), whether the sites have separate brand identities vs. whether the sites are cookie-cutter-like, etc.

  223. Kathy, your case intrigues me a little bit. I poked around a bit (I agree that hystersisters.com is a great site). I’m seeing that some 57,279 urls were robots.txt’ed out. I might take a second look there to see if you’re forbidding us from crawling something that we should be crawling.

    I’m going to ask a few more people at Google their opinion though.

  224. Thank you Matt.

    Actually those urls are blocked for robots and rightly so. They are individual posts on the site (so not to duplicate content, fluffing up the content pages for spiders) and member profiles. WIth over 127,000 members they do appreciate some anonymity so I do not allow the robots to spider those member profiles. With almost 300,000 threaded discussions available, and all the content pages managed through the system) there are still plenty of pages to index. I appreciate you poking around to find more info for me. Its been my personal mystery for a while now.

  225. SEO has never equaled spam. The Google Guidelines make this quite clear. I placed my vote in the poll and elected no further comment on the topic, but time is better spent elsewhere. Matt, if you read this, I know a few people who are spreading a potential myth that Google is looking to enter the SEO game through their acquisition of Performics, which is part of double click. I’ve stated that I doubt this to be the case, but it would be interesting to hear your stance on this and other more relevant Google issues rather than wasting your time with this guy. Why give him the link bait? My 2 cents.

  226. Jim

    Matt Cutts said “At the other side of the spectrum is stuff like buying expired domains, or buying sites purely in an attempt to benefit from their pre-existing links.” I have files a google spam report (more than once) regarding the site http://www.rcplayers.com. They bought this domain to take advantage of the pre-existing links (mostly high ranking .edu links) and now it is a vacation rental website that has nothing to do with the previous site. Why is this site still in the google results?

  227. Oh, perhaps I am not intriguing enough.. or perhaps Matt can’t comment on my situation for legal reasons. :)

    I have a question for you in a post I wrote today Matt, perhaps you can take a moment to respond?

    Is Google The New Terrorist?

    Cheers,
    Snoskred

  228. Thanks for the response, Matt.

    Dave, I agree with your response that in my example, a Dave’s Shoes and Dave’s Pants makes more sense as one site than having two domains linked, but there are many times in business where you specialize, have some success, and then want to branch out. Dave might have started with shoes and had davesshoeemporium.com be wildly successful and then want to branch out to pants but want a new domain because his current site’s name suggests that he only sells shoes. In that case, Dave might start a Dave’s Pants site (or a Dave’s Clothing site if he doesn’t want to have the situation occur again). In this case, it makes sense for him to get a new domain and also to want to encourage his shoe customers to check it out.

    So my question for Matt basically was—should Dave be afraid to link these two sites? If I understand correctly, Matt is saying “No.”

    I would also add one other point. While in the real world, it makes great sense to have a big store that sells all clothes to serve your customer, it can make sense in the Internet world to want to create domains for each product line, because we often see in search results that the more specific a site/domain is, the higher it can rank for certain terms. (Dave’s Shoes would rank better for “shoes” than Dave’s Clothing Store, even if both sites had the exact same shoe selection.) However, splitting up a product line under many domains may be considered spam, even though search engines tend to reward the sites with a narrow niche/name over the generalist site. So it can be difficult to know where optimizing to help search engines find your content slips over the line to spamming (which is not really an objective term, as everyone has a little different idea on what spam is when you get into the gray areas).

    I think Google is actually better at not overly rewarding the super-specific site over the general site with the same content/products than other search engines, but it’s still another situation that leaves some Webmasters in a quandary on whether to house things under one roof or under multiple domains linked together.

    It’s interesting to discuss how search engines handle the gray areas, because it’s not an easy task for the engines and it also causes a lot of apprehension among Webmasters who want to optimize without going over the line. (And a lot of unhappy Webmasters when Google decides they’ve gone over that line.)

  229. Hi Snoskred; Why would Google reply about that? Why should they? Your blog post is nothing but “ranting” about Google. I’m not sure why that is as you state Google sends you 1% of your total visitors and that hasn’t changed at all. Why do you care?

    I see you don’t allow any copy/paste of your content otherwise I would be quoting you in here. I also see you have many of the same type followers who also think Google is evil. Isn’t that about the size of the total “social media” types and what they are all about these days? Yep, I think it is. It must be “fashionable” nowadays to bash Google.

    You equate Google to terrorists. A little over the top don’t ya think? Why the hell Google or anyone would respond to such a thing is beyond me… except me of course. I’m sick of the Google bashing going on and I have zero to do with Google except that they give me and clients FREE referrals as long as you abide by their stated guidelines. A pretty good gig if you ask me.

    You also claim that many “innocent” websites are being penalized by Google. Prove it. Prove it with REAL examples please. I’ll bet dollars to donuts I can find “some” kind of spam with “every” single site you show me…. so prove it.

    The thing with all these Google bashers is that they all whine and cry like babies without showing the proof of what the heck they are talking about. IE: Aaron Wall…. NO proof of his squeeky-clean sites/domains he says they were.

  230. I don’t know if anyone else read this part, but I have a big problem with this, since it suggests that blackhat techniques are okay if they’re kept separate from whitehat stuff.

    This is realpolitik. SE spam isn’t going away–ever.

    I think that over the past few months, Aaron has accurately described what an amoral profit-maximizing entity would do, if it were in Google’s position. Whether Google is actually doing these things today is not so important, IMO; if not Google, then somebody else will be doing it tomorrow. Matt, you should not take this personally.

    I’ve never bought or sold a single link, yet my PR was dropped. That is Google’s prerogative, but I don’t appreciate the implication that I am a spammer. I would appreciate more transparency on how a webmaster may show their white-hat bona-fides (since merely following the guidelines was, in my case, not good enough).

  231. MWA, I’m happy to clarify. I think it’s a Bad Idea to do blackhat stuff. I absolutely do *not* condone blackhat spam. But if you have white hat properties, it’s even less recommended to mix blackhat-ish stuff with whitehat-ish stuff.

    That makes a lot more sense. Thanks, Matt.

    And…RESPEK. (All caps respek is the best kind.)

  232. Harith

    RESPEK!

    Now where did I read that word here on Matt’s blog before?

    Oh now I remember. Matt mentioned it but not with all caps :)

  233. Doug –

    My site does allow people to copy and paste. Perhaps you’re just no good at it?

    It’s not ranting, it is my own opinion. Don’t like it? Too bad. Neither Google nor yourself control me or the innernets. ;)

    You go right ahead and find the spam on mine. If you can be bothered wading through the 600+ posts there. There isn’t any spam there that I know of. Any posts I may have done for payperpost didn’t make the move over to WordPress when I moved in early October – they were published on a blogger blog on the blogger URL. Any reviews I did since making the move were no follow.

    Snoskred

  234. I have to admit, I probably broke etiquette on this one, but the comments swirling around this issue far supercede the event in question. How do we honestly know if this brash expressions exemplified by Aaron is nothing more than a cleverly disguised link bait campaign?

    Getting your head around so many (reference to x, without substantial relationship to x to the third power, rhetoric, etc. ) when it really boils down to a few comments based on emotions (and probably too much caffeine) you would think we would all have better things to do than name calling and debating.

  235. You also claim that many “innocent” websites are being penalized by Google. Prove it. Prove it with REAL examples please. I’ll bet dollars to donuts I can find “some” kind of spam with “every” single site you show me…. so prove it.

    I’ve been penalized, if the toolbar PR readings are true. Knock yourself out.

  236. Your blog?

    Oh, I thought you were ranting about innocent sites being “penalized”. Now I think you are referring to why your blog lost pagerank?? If that is the case; maybe those incoming links that were being valued before by Google do not have as much value now? There are “many” reasons why your blog might have lost some “greenbar” stuff. And lastly; why are you in a huff about a green bar anyway? You state your blog hasn’t lost any visitors, so “where’s the beef”?

    I can’t help you with a lost green bar number, nor would I help anyone with it as it’s insignificant at best in the overall scheme of things. If you want to show me a site that has been “penalized”, yeah sure I can do that. :)

  237. Wait a minute Snoskred; I thought I already “tried” to help you with your blog?? If I recall, you didn’t want to hear what I had to say about it, and you simply blew my advice off, right?

    http://www.snoskred.org/blogroll

    That page rings a big bell for me. If you do not believe WHO you link to means very much to Google, you are very much mistaken. Matter of fact; I firmly believe that WHO you link out to means just as much, if not more than who links to your site. That’s a fact. Take the advice or not…. that’s twice I’ve tried to tell you this.

  238. Schmeckl

    I have an interesting problem to relate and, though this isn’t the ideal place or topic, I’ll share it here because a post mentioned something similar.

    I registered 12 domains over the course of a few months, paid for minimal hosting at different places, and set up web pages with information relevent to the site names – these were not just landing pages. I got Google ads on my sites hoping to offset hosting costs while I developed the pages and soon the pennies started to trickle in so to speak.

    About 3 months later someone tried to transfer four of my domains from me but failed. Shortly thereafter someone from one of these companies with thousands of parked domains tried to con me out of those same domains with fake threats of infringment and legal action. I didn’t fall for it of course.

    Then a strange thing happened. Google notified me that it had detected click fraud and gave me the boot, keeping my pennies. No big loss there but oddly the domains that click fraud was “detected” on were only those four. What makes it strange? I was alone on a static IP, behind a router, with a good firewall, and using an alternative browser. Not only would I never have clicked on an ad I couldn’t have because I couldn’t see them, or even fetch them. I had Google’s ad servers blocked at the router and in my hosts file and in my ad blocker and in my browser. I never even viewed the pages with ads in place to verify that my page layouts weren’t hosed.

    Made me think that someone had spoofed my IP while generating clicks in order to make keeping my domains more costly to me (and encourage me to abandon them). I might had suspected someone from within the hosting company, and thus from the hosted ip, had generated the clicks accidentally, but the four domains were spread over three hosts and were only the ones someone had been after.

  239. @ Doug – One of the problems I think that a lot of people have is the perception of TBPR. That won’t go away until Google reword their public definitions:

    “PageRank continues to play a central role in many of our web search tools” (taken from this page)

    “Wondering whether a new website is worth your time? Use the Toolbar’s PageRank™ display to tell you how Google assesses the importance of the page you’re viewing.” (taken from this page)

    I had a number of my client sites who got a slap of between 1-2 points in the latest updates. None of them have ever indulged in paid links, dubious linking policies or any black hat methods. Their only guilt appears to have been appearing in my Webmaster Tools account. Call it guilt by association if you like because I am unclean. I used TLA as opposed to AdSense on a couple of my sites. Stone me now before I say it again…I’ll only make it worse for myself…

    Having spent the last year or two working with these people, I was extolling the virtues of Google (as I have for nearly ten years) and explaining how TBPR was an indication of quality as far as Google were concerned. Call it the web based equivalent of a Michelin star if you like. So you can imagine my discomfort in having to explain to my clients why they were no longer a 4 star website but a 3 star one or, even worse, a 2 star one.

    Now I fully understand that if a site linking in to one of mine has been zapped that this will have a knock on effect but, come on, have 30+ client sites really been linking out to or receiving links exclusively from spammers or black hat SEOs? Please. Credit me with some intelligence here.

    Apart from all appearing in my Webmaster Tools account, the only other thing they had in common was a link back to my design site. A link that didn’t use a link condom. A site which, incidentally, is equally squeaky clean. Could that be the reason why? Hell if that’s the case then we’re all screwed and so is the fundamental idea behind PageRank.

    Are all of the links back to your website in your templates no-followed? What about the pages in your “List of SEO Firms”?

    Whatever happened to no-follow being used to stop blog spam? Has it now got to the point where we have to no-follow every single link just in case?

    Up until comparatively recently I was still a big fan of Google. I championed them back in the 20th Century, dammit! However this, along with a number of other initiatives, has left a very nasty taste in my mouth. I genuinely do not believe that the current campaign has anything to do with SERPs relevancy. It’s all to do with protecting their cash cow. I also believe that algorithms have played little or no part in the implementation.

    Doug, I’m directing this comment at you purely because you’re one of the most vocal supporters of Google in this discussion. If anyone else wants to chip in then feel free but, as you keep asking for examples, I’ll happily drop you an email with specific sites that got slapped by 1-2 points which I can categorically state did not, have not nor would they ever indulge in any shady practices. Matt those goes for you too but I’m guessing you have more pressing issues such as stock prices to deal with ;)

  240. Like in any other business or industry, the issue is the amount of misinformation being fed (usually for profit) to those companies and individuals still completely unfamiliar with search, both organic and PPC.

    The industry is highly dynamic and so the search engines must change to reap the profit benefits and at the same time become as relevant as possible. Sometimes (the Florida debacle), they’ll make a mistake.
    Just one good reason that forums between ‘good guy’ SEO’s and search engine employees are important. The fix becomes faster.

    This last round was no mistake. It just took a little time to fine tune (and probably still is). Sites that sold links for YEARS are screaming. They should be grateful for the years they got. The practice is spammy on the surface without Google even having to mention it.

    Linking to your own stuff, unless Matt corrects me, is fine as long as you’re not hiding behind some screen name. Everyone want to promote their own stuff within the same space. Hopefully,’the stuff’ is somewhat relevant :)

    Black Hats simply ruin it for the rest of the industry and SEO gets labeled spam. It’s really that simple. Without SEO actually helping Google and other search engines, many very relevant sites (like Kathy’s) may have never seen the light of day. Algorithms and bots will never be perfect.

    Look at your analytics. Even try Google’s analytics. Things like page weight have no doubt changed dramatically in the last year with a huge shift in rural areas to broadband. Just one example. Intuition is part of the game.

    While there may be an ‘elite’, it’s only because they’ve made themselves known over the years.

    I for one would love to see this type of forum expanded, not so much for new ideas, but to prevent ‘mistakes’ by those who will make them because they believe they’re right …. before they have to come here to complain.

    I can’t count how many contracts (one in progress) I have terminated with clients because they were about to launch the ‘Google killer app’, and the IT guy (or webmaster) said it would work and I couldn’t stop it.

    “Hey, I’ve got this great new script” … It drives me nuts and happens all the time.

    Maybe I’m a dreamer (probably?) but maybe forum such as these will help the ‘average’ person doing a search continue to get what he or she is looking for.

  241. Dave (original)

    Kathy, a Google sitemap should tell you the problem on your site.

  242. Dave, I had a Google sitemap. It didn’t tell me anything. The sitemap provided every thread discussion in the proper format. After using it for over a year it didn’t add any additional indexed pages to Google. It was updated daily to include the newest of discussions. And there were no errors to point to, showing the problem.

    I removed the sitemap from my webmasters/tools. (I still have a sitemap but it is in html form, linked on my footers.) I have friends with forums the size of mine. They have never used a sitemap and they have over 500,000 pages indexed. Me? I’m “lucky” if there are 12,000.

    I have no clue why the spiders do not get any deeper than 12,000 pages. I used to have over 300,000. That was years ago, in 2004, when I had normal indexed pages. Its a discouraging process considering I try to manage this on my own, with the input from webmaster friends. I’m not a geek. I’m just a gal that wanted to help other women.

  243. Not to take up anymore time here (and hyjack stuff, sorry Matt) but I have a copy of the sitemap on my server. If having that file helps anyone find my problem, I’d be happy to support the link.

  244. Dave (original)

    Jim, re http://www.rcplayers.com

    I can’t find them in Google for any relative terms. Why should they be “removed” anyway?

    So my question for Matt basically was—should Dave be afraid to link these two sites?

    Google is not and has never been a monster waiting to pounce on any site. This is especially true for mom & pop sites. If you are linking for your users, you have nothing to fear but fear itself.

    As I have said, read the Google guidelines, apply common sense and stop reading whatever “SEO” sites you have been reading.

    Snoskred, so Google is a terrorist? Good grief, were you dropped on your head at birth? Do you even have a head? You are making a complete fool of yourself with your continued ignorant posts.

    Google is the most successful businesses on the planet today, certainly one of the most innovative too! It delivers more FREE traffic than any other SE ever! Ever stop to think just how sites would be listed in M$ and Yawho were in the same position as Google. I guess not. They have opened the World up to itself. If ever comes down to believing the raving loony self-serving idiots that prove time and time again they haven’t a clue, the choice is simple.

  245. Very good post Charlie!

    I’ve got a question to those who may care; When did search engine spam cease to be search engine spam? When you are a site who is using the “Google” pagerank bar in order to “make money”, isn’t that spam? If you are a broker who is using GOOGLE pagerank to sell links, isn’t that spam? If you are selling text links on your site with one of the benefits you are selling is to “improve Google ranks”, isn’t that spam?

    The answer to all of those is YES IT IS.

    When did most of the industry decide it’s no longer spam? If you read the many, many blogs and social type “spammy” sites out there now, including sphinn.com, you would think that all that matters now is how big your bar is. You would think that all the “failed” SEO’s of the past are all hanging out at sphinn, and are disguising old search engine spam with a term called “SEO 2.0″. In other words, all those people who could not build a search engine friendly site in the past are all the sudden “social media” experts and calling themselves SEO’s as well. These people have been given an outlet to try to sway the ignorants of the world and at the same time are totally anti-google with everything they say and write and do.

    So when did the industry decide to become total enemies of the search engines? When did this industry decide that search engine spam was ok?

    Are ways to answer those questions understood better if we look at the time when Google decided they would try to be more open and transparent with webmasters and SEO’s? I’m thinking there is a correlation there somewhere.

    The total disrespect for a company who only has delivered thousands and thousands of free visitors to many millions of websites over the years is astounding. The utter lack of any respect for stated guidelines of that same company is also astounding. The comparison of same company to terrorists on 9-11 is both appalling and totally uncalled for. That in itself disrespects ALL who lost their lives on that day and all families involved on that day.

    Is this what the industry has stooped to? If so, you all are at an all-time low. I actually thought things would get better when Google decided to become more “out there” than just a username on the webmasterworld forums. Boy; I could not have been more wrong.

    It’s like the industry truly believes that ALL search engines owe them something. It’s also the fault of our industry leaders who seem to allow this all to happen, and even give outlets for it to happen. There is such a thing as free speech going way too far. This industry needs a good dose of “kick ass” I think. I believe if something is not done about things soon, any type of credibility the SEO industry had before will be totally lost forever. I can equate this to the fact that 95% of people who go into business for themselves fail within the first three years of doing so. I believe you can use the same type thing when looking at a “baby” industry such as the SEO/SEM industry. If things do not change…. and fairly soon, you can kiss away any type of trust the industry will have with the “general” public.

    Yeah, I know; off topic…. but just a little. I feel it truly pertains to this thread and many other places in the industry right now.

  246. BTW: Before the Doug Heil bashers out there say one word, just remember that I LOVE the bashing. Also remember I have stated my problems with Google many times. I’ll rehash them here:

    1. Google is too lenient with blackhats and those caught spamming.
    2. Google should not be selling adwords to blackhats and their sites.
    3. Google should have stricter quality guidelines for adsense publishers.

    There are more, but those are off the top. Go ahead now; call me a Google lover once again. I’m simply tired of the total lack of responsibility people have with their own sites. It’s always Google’s fault. It’s never the webmaster’s fault or the SEO’s fault. I can equate this to the liberalism of internet. Just like far-left people who think the gov should give to the masses over and over again instead of those masses actually taking on responsibility for themselves. Many in this industry seem to really believe it’s NOT their responsibility to make them successful on the internet, but the responsibility of Google to make sure they are successful. Nutty huh?

  247. General Public

    Webmasters > Google
    ===================

    Webmasters are more powerful than google, web sites will still attract visitors even if google disappears tomorrow. Google should understand that webmaster generated content is what makes google possible. Antagonizing webmasters is not a good idea, google should focus on developing better algorithms rather than hand editing SERP. An algorithm change is game for webmasters but hand editing is not….. if hand editing becomes common then google = yahoo directory.

  248. Jim

    Dave (original) – I was just wondering if google’s policy is not to purchase expired domains for the benefit of the existing links then why is that site allowed to do just that? If you look at the Yahoo search http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/advsearch?p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rcplayers.com&bwm=i&bwmo=d&bwmf=u

    It’s clear to see all the high PR pages linked to that site. Of course that was when the site was part of a university club. So the question is if this type of domain purchasing for the benefit of existing links is ok or not?

    As far as relevant searches showing them in the results.. try searching google for “costa blanca villa rental” an area they offer many villas for rent. Before they bought this domain they were no where in the results, now #6. Not surprising considering the number of high PR pages from the EDU site including at least one PR8 link. Not a bad strategy if google allows this type of behavior. What about it Matt is it allowed?

  249. Oh; I see what you mean Jim:

    http://www.umich.edu/perform_arts.php

    You are saying that the domain “use” to be about something entirely different than it is right now, and you want to know why those good links are still counting even though the domain was entirely changed with a different focus and offering?

    My question would be; how do you know that Google is actually giving value to those previous links? If they indeed are doing so, it’s simply a matter of time before those links will cease to be of value anymore. It’s obvious to me the owner of the new site wanted to transfer the link value to a very different type site.

    You have to understand that spam “can work” for awhile. That has always been the case and will forever be the case. The thing is; it is caught at some point as aaron wall found out. When that happens, that site will drop down or totally out. Whenever you have automated stuff involved, you will find stuff that has not been detected as of yet. I’d also note that since this is now public that you might see something happen fairly soon as it’s very obvious to me those “old” links should not be helping a site that is VERY much different than the old site. :)

  250. Aaron Pratt says:

    So yeah, I am not liking being fed incorrect data by the “John Chows” and SEO thought leaders but at the same time I am VERY concerned about where Google is heading. If anyone cares…

    I hear that – I had mentioned above about oversight – not in the same context, but I generally agree with what you are saying here.

    Danny says:

    The spammer cleans his site (and may have help with that from Google), asks forgiveness by making a reinclusion request and gets indexed again.

    Only if your a name SEO and “famous” you might get that privilege. What about the minor inadvertent stuff that suddenly gets you ‘knocked’ from the quieter companies, what recourse of action do they have?

    On another Note:

    We got knocked back a point on PR, okay it was nothing to do sweat about and we don’t actually live for the little green bar, but it does give a indication that maybe something could ahve been wrong. We weeded out anything we thought may be imperfect. What we came across though made us a little concerned – on our portfolio page we link to all of our clients, which there should be nothing wrong with as we did build those websites and were proud of them. The work spans several years. Does this mean by linking to them were now breaking rules? We shouldn’t have to put nofollow tags on this as we are giving a vote of confidence to the work we do. We also build websites of all different subjects from industrial, industry, fashion, music, and hospitality. Does it mean because were linking to these different areas that we are in violation of guidelines? Also, a lot of these sites link back to us with a link on their pages that says “website solutions developed by “………” etc. Is this then wrong? we gain permission from the companies that we build the sites for to link back to us to say who did build their sites. Also, any CMS we create we put our label on it. Is this then wrong? We noticed one of the industrial sites we built they have a page named accessibility statement which explains why their website meets accessibility guidelines. On this page they link to us as the company who built their accessible website. We noticed that one page has a PR of ’0′ while the rest of the site has ’6 and 5′s’ have been penalized for linking to us as a warning? They also had a link to an article about accessibility we removed that while trying to troubleshoot what could be wrong.

    Before anyone jumps the gun and says I am going off-topic or this is nto relevant, well in some ways it is. It is also a legitimate question. Only a couple of weeks ago, I was at a conference here in Bournemouth with several webmasters from varying large small to larger new media agencies, it came up about linking from portfolio’s and clients linking back to us. Nobody ahd a clear answer, but we all agreed that it should not be a case for penalization.

    Quite frankly, I am glad the case with Arraon Wall is being settled without any blood being spilled. Okay, by his own admission he used to be a spammer. If he is still practicing these techniques then he has been busted, but at that same time has been helped out of the predicament. At the same time I agree that Google do penalize without looking at the whole picture and not giving any recourse.

  251. “Doug Heil Said,
    November 21, 2007 @ 6:35 am

    BTW: Before the Doug Heil bashers out there say one word, just remember that I LOVE the bashing. Also remember I have stated my problems with Google many times. I’ll rehash them here:

    1. Google is too lenient with blackhats and those caught spamming.
    2. Google should not be selling adwords to blackhats and their sites.
    3. Google should have stricter quality guidelines for adsense publishers.

    There are more, but those are off the top. Go ahead now; call me a Google lover once again. I’m simply tired of the total lack of responsibility people have with their own sites. It’s always Google’s fault. It’s never the webmaster’s fault or the SEO’s fault. I can equate this to the liberalism of internet. Just like far-left people who think the gov should give to the masses over and over again instead of those masses actually taking on responsibility for themselves. Many in this industry seem to really believe it’s NOT their responsibility to make them successful on the internet, but the responsibility of Google to make sure they are successful. Nutty huh?”

    Google lover? The only “thing” that Doug Heil loves is….. Doug Heil… lol.

    But I agree with the idea that you have to take care of your own problems and not blame someone else for them and hope they will be nice and take care of your problems.

    I don’t understand the “far-left people” statement. Though I am absolutely not a left wing person, I don’t agree at all that “far-left people” think “the gov should give to the masses over and over again”. “Far-left people” know exactly what they want and take action to accomplish their goals and they´re often willing to give everything they own to do so. (generally not in ways I’d aprove of that much, but that’s another discussion :) ) It’s the middle people that don’t know left from right that complain so much.

    Neither is the “liberism of the internet” responsible for so many complaining people. It’s simply a fact that the world is full of complaining people. That too isn’t a bad thing, nor is it a good thing. It’s just a fact. That´s all it is.

    What does make a difference is how much you get upset with these facts. Why would you care about people complaining about Google,.. :) It’s Google’s problem, but not yours.

    People complain because they can’t resolve their problems them selves. I guess it’s like complaining about “the total lack of responsibility people have with their own sites.” The only reason to complain about that is to consider it a problem. But why on earth would that be your problem? Maybe your clients complain and you don’t know how to deal with their complaints.. ;)

    And then indeed, the thing that you do (like most other people) is complain,.. you know,… kind of like those “far-left people”.

  252. Vincent’s comment hits the mark. If we follow all the guidelines and yet our PR drops, how the heck are we supposed to interpret that? Either those guidelines are not a true representation of what Google considers good behavior, or Google is just jerking us around with meaningless stats.

    Neither of these strategies will actually deter spam, but they will provoke a reputation for petty tyranny. Search algorithms are a dime a dozen, and abuse of webmasters’ trust is very dangerous!

  253. Hi Chris, Green bar pixel drops have happened since Google first introduced the toolbar and pagerank. Nothing has changed in that regard. Did you fret over a one drop green pixel in the past, or is this just something you started to do when the “SEO” industry started making a big deal about it?

    Nothing has changed with Google and green bar drops. It’s the same as it’s always been as far as I know.

    The differences today that were not present in the past is the “fact” that the SEO industry leaders are allowing the bad information about the toolbar to go haywire with little to zero teaching about it. The leaders are not standing up to say….. STOP it already. They are allowing the bloggers and those who follow those same bloggers to fret and worry about something that makes almost no difference to their own websites.

    The leaders are allowing SEO types to complain and whine and cry even though they were caught implementing search engine spam. I don’t see or hear or read ANY so-called “leaders” telling all the SEO babies to:

    “Shut up already”.

    They refuse to do so. These people know damn well that a drop in green pixels that is “visible” does NOT mean the site has a penalty. You would never believe that from reading ALL the silly blogs in this industry though. People actually believe that a drop means a penalty. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

    A blackhat gets caught spamming, but we see NO place out there telling that blackhat to “clean up” your act. MOST forums out there are totally silent on the issue…. totally. Instead of using this as a way to ‘teach” the masses, the leaders are using it as a way to allow the blogs and SEO wannabes to proclaim “Google is Evil”.

    Just look at this thread? How many members are posting about their “green bar” score and thinking they have a penalty? Has Google EVER stated you have a penalty just because your visible green stuff dropped?

    NO

    Peter; why yes; I do love myself and that’s a good thing. :) I think having confidence is a very good thing. It enables me to take on the actual responsibility of “my” websites and of my client websites, and not whine and complain about a little drop in visible pagerank, which I already know has zero to do with a penalty. Why a drop then?

    Well; the reasons are too numerous to post about in here, but one big reason might be an incoming link that use to be valued fairly high, is not valued as high anymore. If the page my link was on had their green bar lowered, then that will lower the value of my link on that same page. Seems like common sense, right? It is. That’s what has happened to most all of you who’s green bar pixels have dropped and you do not sell links. The value of your incoming links has simply dropped a tad. You do NOT have a penalty so stop crying and complaining about it.

    Peter; if I don’t stand up and “out” the whiners in this industry…. who will? Last I checked, I’m a part of this industry, so I feel the real need to let the masses know that they need to actually learn this stuff themselves and learn why their “own” websites might be doing badly, and stop blaming the search engines for their lack of success. Because the industry leaders don’t seem to want to stand up and take a stand on much of anything…. little o’l Doug has to at least make an attempt to do so.

    I know that a post way above is asking “me” to look at their site because they are worried about a penalty as their “visible” pagerank dropped a tad. Where are they getting the idea that they have a penalty in the first place?

    The answer is:

    Just look around the internet at all the SEO blogs and websites in this industry to answer the question about why people are now thinking that a green pixel drop means a penalty. It’s truly bad stuff.

  254. Well Doug,

    Sounds like you have the same problems with expectation management as most SEO’s do. (For us too it is high on the priority list and it starts already at the very first contact with a potential client.)

    Pagerank drop we generally explain by the fact that the total amount of real Pagerank is growing every day while the toolbar always has a 0 to 10 scale. So that means that 1 point on the toolbar every day represents a higher amount of real PR. So it’s only logical that over time, toolbar PR drops. Another simple question that resolves the issue is: Did you lose rankings? The answer is always no. Or,.. Did you sell less all the sudden? The answer is always no. Or,.. Do you get less phone calls now? The answer is always no.

    Here in Brazil nobody really knows about links being devaluated, except for the very very few people that actually make an effort in reading the english information online. Generally, Pagerank is only as important as we make it, so we don’t have many problems regarding PR.

    As to all the sites that mention penalties,.. that’s the result of Google’s own attitude towards what they consider bad practice. They made a point out of buying links being bad. They wanted to receive reports on paid links. If they’d just would have started devaluating paid links without making such a point out of it, nobody would have really cared anymore about paid links. But I guess the way they did it, was much faster than just letting it fade a way.. :) (works for me, what ever they consider best for them, they should do. That’s how I work as well.)

    But still, why waste so much time on outing the whiners in this industry? It’s a negative marketing technique, though here too I guess: What ever you consider best for your business, you should do. My preference is a bit different which can be best described by a saying of my father in law:

    If you want butterflies in your garden, you should grow flowers.

  255. Dave (original)

    Jim, how do you know the sites is benefiting from those links? If they are, I would expect Google’s algo to catch up soon. Remember, with 10 Billion + pages it can take time.

    So the question is if this type of domain purchasing for the benefit of existing links is ok or not?No and IF you pay a price based on links you are your own worse enemy.

    Don’t purchase domains, purchase businesses and hope for the best and prepare for the worse. That is, if you purchase a business don’t change the sites flavor and hope that all inbound links remain as are.

    Vincent’s comment hits the mark. If we follow all the guidelines and yet our PR drops, how the heck are we supposed to interpret that?

    How about with some common sense?

    1) Who is to say Toolbar PR is real time?
    2) How do you know the PR drop is not the result of pages linking to you dropping PR?
    3) Perhaps you WERE being credited with PR and shouldn’t have been?
    4) List another 1000 reasons here.

    A note to all who are obsessed with PR (but not) and ‘other’ sites. Forget PR and forget other sites. Then channel all that wasted energy into making YOUR site THE site on your chosen topic.

    Trust me, “SEO” is based almost entirely on guess work and charged as if it is based on inside information. Read ALL the SE guidelines (funny how they are basically the same) with common sense and with the SEs best interest in your mind. Then go back to your site and put your site visitors at the top of who to please and SE’s at the bottom.

  256. Dave (original)

    Webmasters are more powerful than google, web sites will still attract visitors even if google disappears tomorrow. Google should understand that webmaster generated content is what makes google possible. Antagonizing webmasters is not a good idea, google should focus on developing better algorithms rather than hand editing SERP. An algorithm change is game for webmasters but hand editing is not….. if hand editing becomes common then google = yahoo directory.It’s NOT about power, it’s about win (Searchers) win (Google) win (Webmasters).

    If you REALLY feel that strong and “Webmasters are more powerful than google”, block googlebot. Case closed.

    With some 10 Billion + pages and Google manually intervening at about .0000001% of the time, “hand editing” has a LOT of catch-up.

    Here’s a novel idea! Quit worrying about Google and focus on your own business. You just might be surprised.

  257. Dave (original)

    Webmasters are more powerful than google, web sites will still attract visitors even if google disappears tomorrow. Google should understand that webmaster generated content is what makes google possible. Antagonizing webmasters is not a good idea, google should focus on developing better algorithms rather than hand editing SERP. An algorithm change is game for webmasters but hand editing is not….. if hand editing becomes common then google = yahoo directory.

    It’s NOT about power, it’s about win (Searchers) win (Google) win (Webmasters).

    If you REALLY feel that strong and “Webmasters are more powerful than google”, block googlebot. Case closed.

    With some 10 Billion + pages and Google manually intervening at about .0000001% of the time, “hand editing” has a LOT of catch-up.

    Here’s a novel idea! Quit worrying about Google and focus on your own business. You just might be surprised.

  258. Dave (original)

    Pagerank drop we generally explain by the fact that the total amount of real Pagerank is growing every day while the toolbar always has a 0 to 10 scale. So that means that 1 point on the toolbar every day represents a higher amount of real PR. So it’s only logical that over time, toolbar PR drops.

    Not true. It’s logical that decent sites move in relation to the Web as a whole. Everything is relative and PR is no exception. Following YOUR logic to its logically (but flawed ) conclusion, all pages should expect a PR of zero in time.

    Only dead fish swim with the tide.

  259. Actually, dead fish sort of float upside down on the surface with a blank look on their face.

  260. “Dave (original) Said,
    November 21, 2007 @ 8:04 pm

    Pagerank drop we generally explain by the fact that the total amount of real Pagerank is growing every day while the toolbar always has a 0 to 10 scale. So that means that 1 point on the toolbar every day represents a higher amount of real PR. So it’s only logical that over time, toolbar PR drops.

    Not true. It’s logical that decent sites move in relation to the Web as a whole. Everything is relative and PR is no exception. Following YOUR logic to its logically (but flawed ) conclusion, all pages should expect a PR of zero in time.

    Only dead fish swim with the tide.”

    Yes Dave, you are right, All pages would have a ToolBar PR of 0 when the index would reach an infinite size. But that would take an infinite time,.. So that’s just theoretical.

    But they wouldn’t have a real (internal) Pagerank of 0. It would just show as 0 on the toolbar.

    You´re wrong on the relativity of the internet though. That would only be true if the increase of the number of pages online would be only on the same things. In your logic you´re assuming that the growth of the internet is based on more of the same, while in reality the growth of the internet is mostly caused by more new stuff.

    So even though inside a certain market the number of pages might grow, it will generally grow slower compared to the growth of the entire internet. And since toolbar PR is based on the total amount of PR available in the index, over time toolbar PR will drop.

  261. Dave (original)

    Peter, I’m not assuming anything, just using facts. Everything is relative, unless you can up with a better “theory of relativity” than Einstein did? While not perfect, it’s the best we have.

    Common sense and history proves your theory to be incorrect. That is, decent pages on the web increase in both real PR and TBPR.

    PR can be diluted by Web growth, but any decent page/site naturally keeps up with the growth in general.

    Even “just theoretical” theories must be based on a true premise and need be proved to be seen as a theory to be taken seriously. So offer some proof to support your “theory” as I have above.

    Actually, dead fish sort of float upside down on the surface with a blank look on their face.

    Aint that the truth ;)

  262. michelle

    Matt, in numerous posts you’ve referred to “cookie cutter” sites being a problem.

    I notice many sites with subdomains for category, or location, eg locationa-sitename.com, locationb.sitename.com

    Or same design and operation, but different urls, for different areas.

    eg, locationahotels.com and locationbhotels.com

    Do they risk a cookie cutter filter/penalty?

    It makes sense to resuse design and fucntion for the different sites covering same topic, but different area… but is google anti doing this?

  263. “Common sense and history proves your theory to be incorrect. That is, decent pages on the web increase in both real PR and TBPR.”

    Your replies are always so much fun.

    Following YOUR logic to its logically (but flawed ) conclusion, all pages should expect a PR of 10 in time.

    Don’t bother to reply.

  264. Dave is right. Peter is wrong. :)

  265. Dave (original)

    Peter,
    Even “just theoretical” theories must be based on a true premise and need be proved to be seen as a theory to be taken seriously. So offer some proof to support your “theory” as I have above. :)

    I have offered my proof and it’s concrete. Shall I wait for yours, or are simply posting your guesses? I’m guessing the latter :)

    Following YOUR logic to its logically (but flawed ) conclusion, all pages should expect a PR of 10 in timeNo Peter, not all, but decent pages can, do and continue to. BUT, you have to understand that PageRank is NOT linear, it’s logarithmic and each 1 point is harder to obtain as you go higher.

    I have never seen a decent page go to PageRank zero without something VERY wrong. If you are telling your clients this cock and bull story I can only guess you do so to mask your ability as a “SEO”. Do you also charge for SE submissions, guarantee top rankings etc?

  266. Mark

    Interesting debate, even if I don’t understand a lot of it. You are all very knowledgeable in SEO, and frankly, use a lot of words I don’t understand.

    I found myself here because I’m interested in finding out something about this SEO stuff. I’m a newbie to it, but it does impact my business. I have specific products in a really small niche. I’ve been on eBay a long time and recently started messing around with Adwords to promote items specific to my site. That is too expensive, so I started to look into why my stuff isn’t appearing on the search engines. Long and short, my website doesn’t EVER appear anywhere when a search is performed for exactly what I offer… even if typed to the exact specs of what I have. A couple of years ago my stuff would always show up. So something has really changed.

    What appears now in search results for most of my specific products is a bunch of unrelated sites that no searcher could ever use. Not just on the first page, but for 10 pages after it. I have what the searcher wants, EXACTLY. Alas, the searcher will never find it.

    I can only imagine that if I were skilled in any of this black hat stuff, I could get them there for a short time. Then after a while, Google would probably block me in some way. Point is…. I HAVE what the searcher wants, but Google doesn’t show it and nobody in their search results does have it. All the high ranked sites are ultimately unrelated to my product, though most of them appear to be quite reputable. Apparently they rank only because somehow they have been able to earn enough Google credit on some of the words that somehow relate to my actual product. So in my customer’s case, the search experience sucks. I don’t know much about SEO, but I’m sure the search failure has nothing to do with actual spam, but everything to do with Google’s algorythmic response to it.

    I don’t have a dog in this fight, but my guess is that if this blackhat stuff were given less credit by Google, my customers would be far more likely to find their product… even if it came from those very blackhat spammers.

  267. I also would like to know more about the “cookie cutter” sites and what michelle mentioned above,

    PS. first time here and love all this information, a bit scared though I gunna spend sooo much time here now, I won’t get any work done!

  268. Just to let you know that a dead fish can see the sky and bottom of the sea simultaneously – its the all knowing and seeing eye!

    I agree with what Dave is saying – but I think alarms should go off if you drop several points, not just to ’0′ if you suddenly plummet from a ’6′ to a ’3′ then something is not right and should be looked at. I always view that as a warning sign and could only get worse if affirmative action is not taken. It only gets tricky when you can’t find what is wrong.

    Look, Google is not perfect and mistakes in generalization are going to be made – when this happens I believe there should be some recourse for action or at least manual inspection.

  269. Dave (original)

    Dead fish are popular and they can see :)

    Vincent, agree, if a page drops by even 1 point in PR it warrants at LEAST some looking into. It’s ludicrous to say it’s to be expected as time goes on when the total opposite should happen!

    Having said that, a common reason for a drop in TBPR is Google discounting links the page WAS erroneously being credited for. As TBPR appears to lag real PR it can SEEM deceiving. Personally, life goes on as normal for me when/if a page drops in TBPR. That is, I KNOW I’m not spamming and create my pages for users.

    I don’t believe Google should ever offer explanations as each one would be another puzzle piece SE spammers could use. Unless Google manually lowers PR (not sure if that is even possible) it’s pretty safe to say there is no mistake.

  270. Dave, I agree somewhat and yes our own site lost a point recently; we didn’t worry too much as a couple of inbounds seemed to have disappeared. Coupled with that we had a very old links page that had suddenly gone to ’0′ we figured to pull the whole page down and dump those old outbounds and do a bit of spring cleaning of our backyard, hopefully that fix a few things next time around.

    On the hand are involved with another site that has suddenly plummeted to a 3 from 5′s and 6′s – interesting enough it is a portal with thousands of pages and carries a lot of unique content. We are still troubleshooting it. We were a bit cheesed off that the entire site paid the penalty for whatever is wrong. I think in a case like this that there could have been some kind of explanation given to us through webmaster tools. Maybe in the form of a warning that we are linking to a few duds (If that is the case). The issue I have is that there is no recourse if you just drop in PR whether dramatically or lightly you can’t request a ‘re-inclusion’ as your not banned and you can’t say ‘ask what you did wrong’ as webmaster tools don’t allow for this. That I find is frustrating.

    I think the search engine should not just be answerable to its owners and shareholders but to the very people who support it, webmasters, site owners, etc. It’s now gone past the point of being just a private or public company search engine, but it’s become a very integral part of web life. When this happens there should always be more oversight. I admit my comments were a little harsh much earlier on in this thread about webmaster tools being all ‘smoke and mirrors’ that came out a bit wrong. But I firmly believe there needs to be a further development upon the tools to allow more flexibility in troubleshooting when things do go ‘t*ts-up.’

  271. Vincent; I understand your post and frustration.

    You wrote this:
    “I think the search engine should not just be answerable to its owners and shareholders but to the very people who support it, webmasters, site owners, etc.”

    The thing is, search engines are accountable to “it’s users”, whether or not those users are also shareholders, webmasters, or just little sally doing a search for her 6th grade science class. It’s users are it’s users. It does not differentiate between a webmaster and a user. Both are the same.

    Think about if Google decided they would give personal responses to every webmaster who requested a “reason why”? Is that possible? No.

    As far as your directory; you have to know that Google has held them up to scrutiny starting about three years ago now. A directory is a dime a dozen out there and most of them aren’t worth one dime. Do you see? And yes; “WHO” you link to is extremely important. That’s something this industry does not seem to understand, nor get.

  272. Vincent,

    A 1 point drop in PR is nothing to worry about, especially if you don’t see any changes in traffic to your site from Google. If you´re in the position that you can monitor many websites you will see sometimes a 1 point drop in PR in many sites at the same time, while traffic to these sites remains the same. I agree that a sudden drop of 3 points or so is something strange and that is likely to be caused by a devaluation of backlinks, though still not a penalty. If you’d gotten a penalty, things would be much worse.

    Also, did the website you mention lose traffic at the same time the PR went down? Did the number of indexed pages go down as well? You can be sure you didn’t lose the PR because of who you link to. Other things to look into: How long is it ago that a reasonable amount of internal links were changed? How many pages are in the supplemental index? ( http://www.mapelli.info/tools/supplemental-index-ratio-calculator/ ) What about duplicated meta description tags? How many of those do you have? There are so many factors to look at and possibly improve.

    Don’t try to figure out what is the exact cause of the problem, but instead spend your energy on resolving these kind of common problems and you’ll get the site more traffic from the search engines. No need to worry about Pagerank. Pagerank is just the basis of the Google algorithms, but it isn’t the deciding factor that makes or breaks a website. Such a factor doesn’t exist. Only the total is responsible for the results.

    We hardly do any link building for our clients as its generally not necessary. Just optimizing the website (with a strong focus on internal links) is often more than enough to get huge increases in traffic. When it is a new website we do some basic submissions to directories to get the search engines interested in the site and start indexing it.

    By the way, I like talking about Pagerank because it’s just interesting stuff but there are many other Google algorithms that are very interesting, like for example the historical data algorithms. We’ve been on the Google rollercoaster with 1 site a couple of times but we now know how to prevent that. Just saying this so you don’t feel like I’m some kind of PR junky as some seem to have this misconception.

    Pagerank gets all the attention, but for example internal links are pretty much completely ignored all over the internet, while that’s where you can get huge improvements.

  273. Dave (original)

    Vincent, I wouldn’t conclude a “penalty” unless you KNOW you are being penalized and only Google knows this. As has been said many times here, PR can drop for any number of reasons. For some unknown reason though, Webmasters often jump to the “penalty” conclusion.

    As far as “penalizing” the entire site, not true as all a site owner can/should do is direct the flow of PR. It to be expected that IF a main page drops in PR, then pages being linked to from it will also drop.

    PR is changing perpetually and the ONLY time a site owner knows this is when/if the TBPR (likely lagged) drops/rises 1 unit. Real PR is on a much finer scale and as said, changing all-the-time.

  274. Doug, glad you understand ;-) anyway, you said:

    “As far as your directory; you have to know that Google has held them up to scrutiny starting about three years ago now. A directory is a dime a dozen out there and most of them aren’t worth one dime.”

    Absolutely agreed and I support your statement fully. In actual fact we did quite well for a while and were very strict in our approach which helped us garner some very quality websites into the Search and Go Directory. A couple of days ago we took the decision to redesign the entire directory from scratch and make it more interactive i.e a video directory, and the pages more focused around product. This will go live probably end of January just before the main portal is finally finished. To this end we have decided to implement either nofollow or JavaScript redirects. We are confident enough in our abilities we can get exposure for the directory through good copywriting and SEO techniques. Were going to dump 30% of the existing outbounds starting next week. I know people will bitch about the nofollow, but put it this way – what they will egt for the price is well written copy, a chance to show videos and other products to a large visitor base. I think that should clear it. (sorry this is not meant to be self-promotion stuff here – just driving a point).

    Peter said:

    “I agree that a sudden drop of 3 points or so is something strange and that is likely to be caused by a devaluation of backlinks…”

    Not in this case Peter, I think it is more of a case who we are linking too and have overlooked some of our own strict rules and go a bit loose. That will change though. You just don’t get a ton of inbound links devalued and plummet from 6′s to 3′s site wide on thousands of pages. I think Doug has it more exact – it’s who we linked too that has caused concern.

    No, we didn’t lose traffic and maintained strong positions through well written web-copy and articles that are all unique and not seen anywhere else.

    Dave said:

    “As far as “penalizing” the entire site, not true as all a site owner can/should do is direct the flow of PR. It to be expected that IF a main page drops in PR, then pages being linked to from it will also drop”

    Yes and No Dave, it just wasn’t a main page were talking about here – it was some major pages and the entire portal architecture is et that there are several main pages that do different things. Bit long and drawn out to explain what I mean here. I do think though that we had overstepped our mark, or rather we had ignored the very tenet of good SEO we were working too. I have come to the conclusion that a few bad apples can ruin an entire basket – and this case I can prove. I also believe that there are warning signs we had ignored – such as previous light PR drop on key pages that should never have dropped from the start – we ignored that which is unusual as it did fleetingly cross my mind that there may be something wrong. In retrospect if we had heeded that warning I don’t believe we would have been ‘hit’ this time around. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, eh?

    And, the dead fish still remains a dead fish and all seeing ;-)

    In conclusion to the above as we still remained at reasonably high positions inthe search engine for a number of key-phrases, we have taken this as another warning and will act on it with the above outlined plan.

  275. I agree with Peter and Doug, at the same time people too much value on pagerank there seems to be a lot of controversy about the dropping PR on some pages. My guess is people will keep tweaking their sites with SEO as well Google will try to make things more and more clear regarding spam and textlinks.

  276. Dave (original)

    RE: “I have come to the conclusion that a few bad apples can ruin an entire basket – and this case I can prove”

    You’d better believe it! Matt has confirmed this many times and not just the 1 site but any that are linked-up in a network. This is why WHO you link out to SHOULD be based on how the link will *help your users*. I link out to every single site like mine and even have Google Custom Search set up so my users can search them. BUT I use nofollow on any I have any doubt on. Better safe than sorry.

    Internal PR flow etc is about the ONLY aspect of PageRank a Webmaster SHOULD be concerened with. Yet, most are obsessed with getting that silly green TBPR to their home page at any cost……which some end up paying.

    RE: ” I also believe that there are warning signs we had ignored – such as previous light PR drop on key pages that should never have dropped from the start – we ignored that which is unusual as it did fleetingly cross my mind that there may be something wrong”

    Hey, it’s to be expected……..apparently ;) Seriously though, classic example of why Peter (IMC) posts should not be taken seriously.

  277. Sarah

    The problem is: Google forces webmasters to do things Google does not like.

    I have reported a lot of websites that rank on top positions without a single natural link. They still sit on their positins – and even if Google removes them in some months (if ever) they have still made enough money. So SEO works unfortunately and as long as reported websites/networks will still keep there, the only thing Webmasters can do is to copy what competitors that rank better, do.

    Many websites will never receive any natural links, as there is no reason why someone should link to an average website. You need a huge website like ebay to receive enough natural links to use this as a factor. A lot of small but good websites will not receive natural backlinks (e.g. classifieds, online shops…). The internet can not only concentrate on the best internet websites and the biggest ones – otherwise there would only be a set of 100-1000 websites, and small websites also have a right to exist but for them the “natural links” just don’t work .For small website only the SEO matters for your ranking, not the website – and not every website has the potential to become big. Google pretends “if your website is good enough, it will be recommended, and grow…and receive natural links”. Not for the majority of website that are not “recommendable” and just too small.
    You also have to differentiate between informational websites and community websites. The small fraction of possible natural links will also always be deep-links and use “here” as an anchor text.

    If you look at 99.999% of Google results and the back links of those pages, you will notice they are all the result of SEO companies (at last the website I am looking for).

    The top 5 positions only have their position due to artificial links….at least in my internet areas.

    I have never done SEO and was ranked well…now more and more people rank better then I do although their websites are worse – they just get links from thousands of websites of the same “network”, pay directories pseudo-directories that don’t accept new submissions anymore and of the link-exchanges of bad websites. So basically you are forced to copy what the competitiors do in order to be ranked the same way you would be ranked if those competitiors did not exists. And those competitiors are not real competitiors – only as they steal traffic, not because they are better.

    Trustrank also won’t work. You would have so many seed websites for so many niches and different areas of interest, that this becomes impossible.

    Any why would an “authority” website link to a property website or a chat website? The only reason why an authority website like CNN or BBC would link to a chat website is if a child is murdered because of the chat website.

    Wikipedia? Why should anyone write an article about an online shop ? And if someone did, Wikipedia would delete it.

    So all the ranking theories are just a big pile of nonsense that does not work.

    Why has Google never used any neuronal networks or something more sophisticated then taking anchor text and titles like in the stoneage?

  278. Sarah

    p.s: I know many good medium-sized websites that are the best websites in their areas and for the small group of people in that areas a lot of visitors – and returning visitors. But up to day, nobody has ever linked to the website.

    Google over-estimated the power of “being linked to”. The majority of websites will hardly ever or never be linked to – unless they spend money on PR but then this is the same as buying links in my opinion or sponsoring blog entries.

  279. sry man i just think its funny so you should slap back.
    dont link em though man, lol

    and btw can you tell me what your using for your poll?

    i really liked it and have not seen it like that before

    Thnx Matt
    Mich
    http://mich.in

  280. Vincent, Internal links are also backlinks.

  281. Hello Matt,
    This is a very useful blog. Your Tips & Tricks help us a lot, and as you say in your Disclaimer page, this is your personal blog, why waste time to reply to Aaron Wall ?

  282. Sarah; your concerns don’t hold much water, sorry. Incoming links are “one” part of doing well in Google. That’s it. One part out of 211 parts now. :-) Each part is weighted differently and each part could be weighed differently on different days and even times. Thinking that a site is top 5 just because of links is just not understanding how a site got there in many cases.

    You also wrote this:
    “Google forces webmasters to do things Google does not like.”

    Nope. You are not being forced to do anything at all. If your competitor told you to put in a special paragraph of text on your page because it would make that page do better……. would you do it?

    Just because spam is working today, does not mean it works tomorrow if indeed it is spam. Build a better website and stop worrying about your competitor. Simply report the page spamming to Google and forget about it after that.

    This is not for Sarah;

    It’s very frustrating to read all the stuff out there about this pagerank and linking issue. It’s almost like the entire industry is totally clueless…. most of it anyway. Am I and a few others the ones who are clueless? I’m sorry, but I don’t think so.

  283. Hi Matt,

    You said: “Kathy, your case intrigues me a little bit. I poked around a bit (I agree that hystersisters.com is a great site). I’m seeing that some 57,279 urls were robots.txt’ed out. I might take a second look there to see if you’re forbidding us from crawling something that we should be crawling. I’m going to ask a few more people at Google their opinion though.”

    I don’t want to be a pest but were you able to find out anything that would be a help to me? Thanks for your help! I appreciate you!

  284. I think the reason why many of us are angry at Google is because Google has started to slam sites for doing things that are in the webmaster’s best interest but not in Google’s best interest. Buying text link ads is just one example.

    Also, Google has become overly arrogant in their leadership position. You claim that you “Do no evil” however I see Evil every day from Google. Just last week I had to remove an adsense ad for Kitty Porn off of my site. You advertise kitty porn, illegal gambling, and many other horrible things just to help your bottom line, yet you claim this absurd motto that you “Do no evil”. Its a complete laugh.

    I think Google is about to get it’s head handed to it with the Yahoo/Microsoft merger and the forthcoming recession. After your revenues drop, and Microsoft becomes a close #2 player, you won’t be acting the way you are now if you intend to keep that leadership position much longer. I think Aaron is absolutely right in what he has said about Google, and I commend him for coming forward and making his claims public.

    If you retaliate against him it will only enrage us more. It’s time to eat a piece of humble pie my Google friend.

  285. Jim

    I am not sure about this whole thing/issue. I am a professional seo and have been for years and have noticed that when people get hit with an algo change, they get mad. But the flip side is that Matt has warned(hinted) for months or even years that Google was going to make changes. Matt warned of coming changes by telling everyone that link exchanges were bad, but people kept doing it.

    They were told not to buy and sell links, yet people did it and got hit by the big G.

    When are you people going to listen? He plainly tells us what they are doing to reduce spam, all you have to do is listen(read)!

    Sure the search engines will be ever changing because there are people out there that want the big , short term income and will relentlessly spam to get that top position for a few months and then have to start over because they are hard headed.

    I Think Aaron is out in left field here, But also think Aaron is not alone, Google is right there with him.
    They break their own T.O.S. on a regular basis. Linking schemes out the wazoo. The google subdomains and the internal linking form high pr pages puts the new G. project right up top with high PR fast.
    Craigslist practises the same thing as many other corporate giants.

    Google has even now started a huge local listings with it’s own algo, and you can bet that if you do a local search now on G. You will get PPC ads and 3 to 10 local listing before the natural search results.

    G. is a self interest company and making the internet more communist day by day. But it is also not alone, Yahoo, MSN and other search engines are doing the same.

    Just my opinion.

  286. Bompa

    Just ignore the whole issue and get back to work.

    sheeesh, some ppl’s kids!
    ;)

  287. I do not think Google regards all SEO as Spam.

    This statement

    “SEO = spam” in Google’s opinion (simply not true). is true imho (The simply not true bit I mean).

    Google has shown me that if you set out to be good and helpful and try your best to help Google to index and return the best results for a search term then Google rewards you accordingly.

    I also do not agree that a natural/organic result can be purchsed well not unless you count hiring a seo/seo writer that is. Of course loopholes can be found and exploited but these are the things that get one penalised are they not? Maybe that is where the problem here lays?

    I never go on face value alone and would question the motives of Aaron concerning any of his statements.

    Aaron is obviously well respected in the SEO community but as we all know it those who know SEO who are the ones that know more than most when it comes to how to use words with motives that are not always clear.

    If I we’re Aaron and I had a problem with Google I would try to talk to Google about it privately.

    Maybe other than that others have expressed their own individual gripes that would be a way to address the personal gripes Aaron has.

    Addressing the gripes of multiple people would of course be helpfully done with a Google public statement of some sort to clarify any misunderstandings and the position Google has. Of course Google cannot reveal all as that would make things all too easy to abuse.

    Surely a person should be able to work out for themselves to some extent why they had been penalised though.

    I have achieved some amazing natural/organic results myself recently purely by following the guidelines and by trying to provide the search results Google says it wants. So I know for myself that when Matt says it is simply not true that those results can be bought this is correct I have the evidence to prove it. Well at least to myself that is.

    I find it difficult to believe anyone can buy top rankings after what I have seen achieved by my own SEO efforts.

  288. SEO’s a joke. I run websites where people don’t want content – they want to use a service I offer. They don’t want to read my silly content (however well written and keyword rich it may be). Still, it seems that I have to spend my time making this content purely for the spiders.

    Google always says to keep your visitors in mind when building your website, and stuff like that. Adding useless content to a website whose visitors only want to see the index.php page is silly, but I’ve gotta do it, right?

    Another issue I have is the deal with duplicate content. I’ve read your other post where it says there’s no real duplicate content penalty (as far as its not malicious and stuff), but I’m a big fan of making websites that centralize information. I manually pull information from many sources and offer it in a very clean, safe to visit from work, accesible website. Unfortunately though, I’m probably eventually going to get raped by Google sometime for it, even though I believe that my centralized information is more useful for a web visitor than them having to visit 10 different websites to find the same information.

    All fair though I guess right?

  289. Google is in a weird position. So many people use their search that they have thousands of people working to figure out their algorithm in order to optimize for it. The only way they can keep people from finding trends is to change it up often. They also have to try and penalize sites that attempt to take advantage of SEO. It seems like it would be hard to do so without having some splash damage on legitimate sites, which I assume is what’s happening.

  290. Thank you for referencing SEO 2.0

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

If you have a question about your site specifically or a general question about search, your best bet is to post in our Webmaster Help Forum linked from http://google.com/webmasters

If you comment, please use your personal name, not your business name. Business names can sound salesy or spammy, and I would like to try people leaving their actual name instead.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

css.php