While I don’t normally use this blog to talk about my business, I think with the recent news in the internet world you may be interested. While I still am overworked guy doing too many things, one of my biggest projects is SEO and internet marketing. What is SEO? Stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the craft of both building your website and promoting your website to be found in search engines (which is primarily Google these days, for the english / USA market). I have been doing this since 2004, maybe a bit in 2003, having built a couple websites before that in 2000 and 2001, but not thinking about how to promote them online.
I remember being in Stevens Tech university, in a class, and my friend showing me google.com as a way to find information and websites I was searching for. I remember how everyone said it was so amazing and quick and relevant…we were tired of altavista and ask jeeves or other search engines that had to search again and again, going through pages and pages of crap to get to the answer or site we were looking for.
So people just started to believe what Google said, whatever came up on the top of google had to be the answer, right. Don’t know what you want to buy, or where to go, google knows. “just google it”
But then….companies and businesses realized this is the best way to get customers….and studied more and more how to do it. Read books, attended seminars…and industry called SEO and internet marketing emerged to rank on google. Then when I came to China end of 2007…not many people really knew about web marketing (or marketing in general really)…seemed like most of the SEO and internet marketing was done in Europe or USA…..maybe some outsourcing projects in Asia….but the main projects were being done in the west.
So many people in China were curious how to improve their rank on google….to get direct access to American buyers….they mostly would use alibaba and globalsources to promote their business. I would preach Chinese need to learn online marketing more….(and still am preaching) but in the back of my mind…I wondered what would happen when 1 billion people learn also how to market online, as well as indians….and filipinos…..and everyone else in the world. It would have to get more competitive.
Sure, Google says it is always updating its algorithm to ensure only the best sites come to the top of the search engine…..but when you create an internet marketing industry of people working hard to optimize websites….and rooms and rooms, or departments and departments of workers building pages, building content, cross linking, networking in groups and on forums on how to build their website to be the best for GOOGLE. And come on….sure webmasters all over the world can say “make it for the user”, but you can’t kid me they are making it for the search engines at the same time.
So what has SEO become? A couple months ago, New York times reported on a online seller of eye glasses who would use negative online feedback to boost his website (notice later its again New York times doing these articles about negative SEO), and then google was defending itself that it had ways not to allow these kind of bad customer service websites to rank in their search engine and punished the website.
And we have social media exploding now, with the news and people mostly talking about Facebook, Twitter, foursquare…..none of which are owned by Google.
Then recently in the internet world, right when the superbowl came out, Huffington post was bought by AOL. Many said AOL was buying an SEO optimized website, other bloggers criticizing that huffington post “keyword stuffs” by writing the content with an emphasis on keyword desity for target keywords, and grabbing other website’s hot content and re-writing it for SEO purposes.
Now, we see Google punishing jc penney deparment store for black hat SEO and buying links to specific pages that would rank the website to the top of google, breaking Google’s webmaster guidelines. This story was covered by new york times actually, just as the earlier article with the reputation management SEO issues in the eye glasses above…..strange to me, but seems NY times has a lot of SEO people of their own to understand and cover these stories. (kinda cool, would like to meet them!)
We also have to think about a company called Demand Media which is a massive company of contents all over the world who are paid (rather low) to write content…..cranking out tons of new articles every day….and most of its traffic coming from Google and SEO. Many claim this Demand media is simply a “content farm” (there is a defensive article from Demand Media stating otherwise) which adds little value to the internet, and is one example of how the internet is polluted with low quality webpages made just to receive advertising revenue. There are others like answers.com and ehow.com that also are often called this, filled with advertisements and low amount of valuable information.
Then this week, we also have google coming out with a chrome extension to filter websites YOU choose, which is pretty cool, if you are tired of some annoying websites that you never go to (that have pop ups and are just full of advertisements. But this seems like a strange timing…like a defensive move by Google to do anything it can to have users stop saying their search results are full of spam and sellers who have bad customer service. BUT….thinking as an internet marketer…I can always see how this can be used negatively, maybe competitors in the industry will add this function to their browser and have as many people as they know DOWNGRADE their competition’s websites. Maybe Google has ways around this, but the idea Google gets is that they see enough people blocking a website from their results, I am sure they will look into the site.
People in the past used to 100% no questions asked believe anything that came to the top of Google. now seems…there is more questions there, and Google is getting desperate. Maybe they feel overwhelmed by social media (facebook, twitter being the center), and all this negative press about content farms, black hat SEO, and irresponsible ecommerce sellers….they are doing everything they can to keep the loyalty from their users (those of us who search google.com each day). I do love Google, lets hope they can adjust…..but as they adjust, so do many internet marketers and SEO guys.
For example, Social media keeps growing, and its said Google now is looking at tweets from twitter.com as links and counts this in their ranking algorithm. Also we have companies like klout social media optimization and this has nothing to do with google at all, the tools or the companies and services used….and more and more people are looking to facebook and twitter for experts and services….asking their friends for advice and help.
Lets see what happens.