Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Search Insider: The Emotionally Abusive Relationship Between Google And Its SEOs

The Emotionally Abusive Relationship Between Google And Its SEOs

A GIRLFRIEND WAS TELLING ME about her erratic beau the other day. On Monday, he says that if she wants him to love her, she has to wear red. On Tuesday, he tells her that he hates women who wear red and that the real trick to gaining his affection is eating one orange every day at 10:30 in the morning. On Wednesday, he says the orange is still okay, but only if she also reads aloud from John Battelle's "The Search" before bedtime. 


OK, you've guessed it. She doesn't exist. But read a few SEO blogs, and you'll see that the relationship I describe is real after all. Webmaster World, for example, is currently hosting a support group for people who have tweaked their title tags and gotten slapped for it. A user called whiteknight warns of the need to tiptoe around Google's easily-incurred wrath:


Unless you are a super trusted authority site (ie you can throw up a page on a long tail and rank Top 3 in an hour), then Google is very cranky about title changes lately.

Another user, Tedster, adds, "Looks like their (sic) watching even more closely for signs of what they feel is over-optimization."


So Google essentially defines good practice, and then punishes you for following it too much. Got it. You'd better have the house clean and dinner ready by the time the big G gets home, as well. Since I'm not a psychologist, I decided to check with Dr. Drew. I figured he would be an expert because he hosts Celebrity Rehab, but he just quotes another guy, Richard Wessler, Ph.D.:


... abusers tend to exhibit the following behaviors:
  • They're controlling and feel entitled to have things the way they want.
  • They have little empathy or compassion for the other person in the relationship.

SEOs, does that sound at all familiar to you?


Wessler says abusees bring their own characteristics into the mix:

  • They believe they are "supposed" to suffer.
  • They believe Google is just "that way."
  • They're "addicted to self-pity" and seek out situations in which they'll feel sorry for themselves.

Alright, I don't know about the self-pity thing either, but we've definitely all given up trying to change Google. It's just a fact of life that sometimes you have to jump through hoops to please the object of your affection.

Alas, the sad reality is that abuse spawns abuse, as Brandt Dainow points out in "7 Ways SEO Consultants Rip Off Their Clients":


A company had been paying for link-building services but could see no benefit from them. Its SEO company claimed to be gathering 10 to 20 links per month. This is a carefully chosen number -- not too many to seem extravagant and not too few to seem lazy. When asked to provide a list of the links it had obtained, the company refused. The service provider explained that the sites in which it had placed links had been carefully identified through research using its SEO expertise. The company said that it could not provide this list because it would threaten its carefully created intellectual property. Believe it or not, the client accepted this lovely piece of legal waffle -- and continued to pay for the services.

And so the cycle of shame continues.


Attention search engines, SEOs and Webmasters! I call on you to find healthy relationships, with partners who treat you with respect, who care for your happiness and well-being, who behave consistently and fairly.

They are out there -- and you are worth it.

Kaila Colbin blogs for VortexDNA, whose technology can improve relevance for search engines, ecommerce sites, or any other recommendation service.

Search Insider for Tuesday, August 26, 2008:

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