Google Openly Profiles SEOs As Criminals – Says Lisa Barone

Ash Nallawalla

20 June 2009


I like Lisa Barone’s writings. I even followed her on Twitter until she started tweeting about the RedSox. Unfollow :sad:

I’m disappointed I didn’t go to SMX Advanced, where a few major announcements were made and where Matt Cutts apparently was “openly stating that Google profiles SEOs like common criminals.”

At this point you should read Lisa’s post and all the comments below. With a headline like that, I certainly took notice. It would seem that well-known SEOs are on Matt’s personal radar for special treatment.  She cites Michael Gray, better known as graywolf.

During a lunch conversation and follow up email conversation with Matt, Michael received some advice on things to change on Viral Conversation to help them “match” what Google suggests. One “recommendation” obviously being hinted at was to make sure bloggers used a nofollow on all links to rid any sense of paid link impropriety. In session, Michael asked why he had to place a nofollow when he gets free links but Google does not.That’s when Matt started talking about SEOs as being “high risk” and “people who do things deliberately for links”.
Fact: Viral Conversations faced more scrutiny because Michael is an SEO. Michael and his sites are profiled the same way a black kid is when he’s out too late and the convenience store on the corner gets robbed. Make no mistake, the way Google handles your site is both site-specific and SEO-specific. And they do hold grudges.

See also an older post by Michael:

He wrote:

Why does this matter, I run a website the purpose of the website is to put free gifts in the hands of bloggers, the exact same way Google did with the android phone, yet I have had to modify my FAQ to tell all bloggers to use nofollow on all links or risk a google penalty, while Google gets to corrupt cell phone searches with impunity.

How does this show that Google is profiling SEO’s and not the rest of the blogging world? How else can you explain high profile A-List bloggers like Robert Scoble and Sarah Lacy accepting free all expense paid trips to Isreal and not getting penalized? How can Guy Kawasaki get “loaned” one, two, three cars in three years and still be within Google’s guidelines .

What’s my take on all these examples? I learnt a new, apt expression from one of the comments – “conference circuit SEOs” – which sounds more like a liability than an asset. I have only been to Webmasterworld conferences, so I have not met some of these conference circuit SEOs. Matt Cutts wouldn’t give me his email address when I asked him a couple of years ago, so I guess he isn’t going to write to me anytime soon. :smile:

I don’t have any hard-core affiliate marketing websites, other than a handful that have survived the Google algo pogroms of the past five years. I don’t covet PR and I have never bought a link. I don’t sell links. I certainly review products here and link to the vendors, but I have written reviews for over 20 years and am not changing anything. I doubt if Matt will ever visit my sites, let alone tell me what to change.

There’s no denying that some SEOs do test the envelope and are bound to attract attention. If I were Matt I would be tempted to look at the sites of expert SEOs a little closer if only to see what tricks were being used to bypass the algo. I sometimes check the customer sites of SEO companies to discover where they get their backlinks, but if I were Matt, why would I not hand-edit a site if it was misbehaving? He often uses the word “intent” to refer to activity that attracts a penalty.

As for the well-known tech review sites and A-List bloggers, they have a large enough audience to not need SEO or even Google traffic for survival. Their intent could be simply commercial quid pro quo, which is nobody else’s business.

What’s your view? Please comment.

Ash Nallawalla

Search strategist experienced in large, complex websites. SEO consultant.

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