My post yesterday about Google's paid links smack down sparked quite a discussion and a bit of debate.
Good points were made all around on all sides of the debate.
One person argued that "any method where you had a hand in creating a link where you knew you were likely get more SEO benefit from it than direct traffic" could be seen as a violation of Google's guidelines. Another argued that Google was simply not practicing what it was preaching.
Most comments made it clear: Google can be an enigma.
Is Google inconsistent at times? Yup.
Is Google arbitrary at times? Yup.
Is Google conflicted at times? Yup.
Is Goggle hypocritical at times? Yup.
Is Google unfair at times? Yup.
Google is a great company but make no mistake about it: Google is an imperfect company. All companies are because people are. And people run companies.
For everything we love about Google, there's something we hate.
When it comes to paid links, it's clear that Google has a real problem. It doesn't like them, but there is a huge grey area as to what constitutes a 'paid link'. Should Google push the identification of 'paid links' onto publishers? Nope.
As I stated in a past post on paid links, there's a fair argument to be made that Google shouldn't expect publishers to go out of their way do its job. In an ideal world, Google's algorithm would take care of everything. But we don't live in a perfect world and the bottom line is that if you want your pages to appear in Google's index, you have to play the Google game by Google's rules or risk penalty.
There are a lot of philosophical debates around issues like SEO but at the end of the day everyone is aiming for the same thing: results.
There's no right or wrong way to climb your way up the SERPs ladder. A lot depends on the type of websites you run and how competitive your industry is. A lot also depends on your risk tolerance. Some people are willing to push the limits while others stay out of the grey area that exists between white hat and black hat. There are successful white hats and black hats, and not-so-successful white hats and black hats.
Here on the Econsultancy blog we report on important news and trends that are relevant to online publishers and digital marketers. Much of the information is pragmatic, some of it is intellectual.
We can debate Google until we're blue but when it comes right down to it, make no mistake: you control your destiny.
In the world of SEO, there are a lot of things that you can't control. Google can change its policies at any time. It doesn't have to enforce those policies equally. An algorithm update might result in a drop in your SERPs through no fault of your own.
None of this means that Google's policies aren't worth discussing. None of this means that we shouldn't point out where Google isn't treating people equally. And none of this means that we shouldn't watch Google like a hawk.
But don't be fooled into believing that any of these things minimizes the importance of developing a viable online strategy that works for you. The only thing that matters is the results you achieve.
Achieving results depends on taking advantage of what you can control and accepting what you can't. If you're focusing on the stuff you can't control, chances are you're not paying enough attention to the stuff you can.
That's something to keep in mind.