Google may be the dominant search engine in much of the world, but that doesn't mean it's perfect. To the contrary: there are plenty of examples which indicate that Google struggles to detect even the most unsophisticated web spam, and as a result is driving its users to sites that they'd probably rather not go.
Increasingly, Google's flaws in this area are attracting attention. While it's not yet clear if the attention is a reflection of the fact that consumers are finding that Google's results aren't meeting expectations or an indication that Google's glow has simply worn off, it is clear that Google has a lot to lose if it doesn't pay attention to web spam.
Google Instant certainly ranks as one of the biggest user experience
changes Google has implemented since it launched Google search more than
a decade ago. And for that reason, it has attracted a lot of press attention,
and sparked a significant amount of conversation among search experts.
But is Google Instant really little more than a convenient distraction
that masks Google's flaws? Some are essentially arguing just that.
Getting smacked by Google is never fun, but when you run a
multi-million dollar online business that generates much of its sales
through Google's SERPs, a Google smack down can be downright painful.
Just ask Ryan Abood, who runs GourmetGiftBaskets.com. According to a
profile by Inc. Magazine, Abood lost $4m when his
GourmetGiftBaskets.com was dropped from Google's index in 2008, right
before the most important time of the year -- the holidays.
How bad is the newspaper business hurting? If the shameless link selling the Express Group is engaging in on its websites is any indication, newspapers have it pretty bad.
The sales team at the Express Group has been sending emails to SEOs promoting the company's "SEO advertorials", which are little more than keyword-rich articles published on Express.co.uk, DailyStar.co.uk and Ok.co.uk that the Express Group is willing to pepper with paid links.
I don't provide SEO services these days, but every once in a while, a friend or associate asks for some advice. I usually respond with the same high-level (and somewhat useless) stuff: structure your pages and internal links well, produce great content, execute a strategy to acquire high-quality, relevant backlinks and don't worry so much about the things you can't control. But more and more, I've become inclined to ask "Do you really want to know?"
While I've never been under the illusion that blackhat SEO was 'defeated', I've become increasingly resigned to the idea that it's far worse than most of us can imagine and Google just doesn't care as much as it says it does.
British police have shut down more than 1,200 websites selling fake designer clothing in jewelry in the past week. And along with those websites, they've taken out some of Google's top results.
Thanks to a tweet tip, the aftermath of Scotland Yard's crackdown can be seen with a Google UK search for 'ugg boots'. As I write this, no less than seven of the top 10 results on the first page for this search are inaccessible. One of the websites that can't be accessed includes the top-ranked site: okuggboots.co.uk.
On the internet, few companies receive more attention than Google. And for good reason: Google touches so many individuals and businesses. From search to its 'side projects', just about everything Google does creates interest.
Google's prominence, not surprisingly, has led to the creation of many myths. Here are my top five.
Paid links are something I've written about lately as the possibility of Twitter data being incorporated into the Google and Bing search indexes has raised the spectre of a much more complicated situation vis-à-vis paid links.
In the case of Google, the rules are clear: paid links are bad. If you get caught buying or selling them, you could find yourself in a world of hurt. But just how good is Google at detecting paid links? If the example I'm about to give is any indication, it's not good at all.
Now that Google and Bing have access to Twitter's firehose, the
speculation about over how Twitter data could eventually be used
as a search engine ranking factor has begun.
Since there's not a whole lot of text (and context) in 140 character tweets, it seems likely
that if Google and Bing want to use Twitter as some sort of ranking factor, they'll look to the links that are spread on Twitter
and who is spreading them.
If you're an entrepreneur, or budding entrepreneur, making money online can sometimes seem like a real challenge. In my opinion, that's often because entrepreneurs focus on the wrong thing. They want to create a 'startup' and become the next Facebook or Twitter.
That's a tall order and, for most of us, a recipe for disappointment. But if you're willing to start out small and work hard, profit on the internet isn't so elusive.