Sunday, April 29, 2012

SEO S&M : Google Webspam Update Punish vs Reward Mentality

"I can't make you do anything. But I can make you wish you had!"
Everything about the mind-numbing fallout from the Google Penguin webspam update reminds me of my father's most sadistic quote. Like Google's recent and highly punitive algo changes, the whipping-stick was reserved for special occasions when I had been a very, very Bad Boy. And with that  first 'SMACK!' you didn't know if - or when - the beating would stop.

To the untold thousands of website owners who's business and profits crumbled or vanished overnight thanks to Penguin update's disciplinary actions :  "It doesn't matter what you think. I'm your Father. I don't have to give you a reason..." And that's how this oddly perverse and twisted scenario plays out if your web site has suffered in the hands of Big, Bad, Daddy Google. Rather than simply REWARDING best SEO practices - this whole update in late April 2012 had all the delicious preamble of a BDSM Master-With-A-Riding-Crop hinting at exactly what he was going to do to us if we didn't do as he said. Many of those with Webmaster Tools accounts received fair-warning and we began to tremble. On April 24th, with a flick of the wrist, hard leather bit bit flesh - and the bleeding began...

Who knew our White-Hat Cowboy on a White Horse had a Blacker Hat in his closet too : Matt Cutts - Head of Google's Webspam Team - always seemed like such a nice guy in his videos. And we took his insights and recommendations to heart. We balanced "Doing The Right Thing" by Google -- with needing to pay bills, gas up the tank, keep our mortgage on-time, and the kids fed. And for that, we did everything - EVERYTHING - we could to drive traffic to our site(s) as if our lives depended on it; Because it did. Who knew he had a riding-crop up his sleeve?

"Don't Be Evil" - Google's own cliche' corporate mantra took a sick turn this past week. Like an enraged, sadistic and drunken father, those loathing eyes turned towards *us* (those who write the content Google feeds on), spit it back in our faces, and raised it's fist in rage. And now there's just a whole bunch of webmaster's cowering in the corner crying and praying he doesn't come after us again. Like he did with Panda. And now with Penguin. And always fearing the ultimate: 'God I hope he doesn't kill me next time' update that will inevitably follow.

That's the crushing crux of what went down this past week. Instead of state-of-the-art linguistic and syntactic assessment of page quality and relevance, instead of focusing on POSITIVE signals and rewarding that, this algo tweak was clearly coming from a NEGATIVE frame-work and mindset. After the Holiday Shopping Season, a big DISCIPLINARY ACTION was being formulated, it was going to be heavy-handed, and the SINS OF THE PAST - all of them accumulated in a backlink profile - were going to be answered for.

It isn't just ONE thing you did! You're going to pay for EVERY stupid thing you've EVER done!"

Indeed.