What Does Google Really Want?

By - August 31, 2012

We don't buy links for our sites, and we have never used "article spinners" for our websites and never will, but we wonder what Google really wants in order to rank a site highly, and if perhaps bought links and spam provide a surer route to success online. In case you aren't familiar with these software tools called spinners, they create new articles from old. This is meant to avoid a "duplicate content" penalty from search engines, as opposed to just posting the same content all over. Every sentence is altered using a synonym program so, for example, if a paragraph starts with this:

There is more than one way to save money when buying a house...

Then the software might make it into:

There is excess of one method to put aside coins when purchasing a shelter.

The average internet user does not know that "English" like this now comprises more than half of everything online. Thankfully these kinds of pages still do not show up more than 50% of the time when you search using Google.

However, the infamous Google algorithm still cannot tell that these sites are not original content, nor that it is not "human" language. It isn't terribly surprising. If you put that "spun" sentence in MS Word you will notice that there are no grammatical errors flagged, even though no real person would want to read such garbage. So sites that are full of this garbage still count as important in the Google search engine algorithm, and this is why many SEO experts still make a living online with sites that get their ranking in Google due to links they buy from crap sites like these.

But what happens Google identifies the spammy sites? Unfortunately they have decided to attack not just the crap, but also anyone that the crap is linked to. Thus, if a site wants to rise in the results, they can buy a bunch of crap links to their competitors' sites, and report the linking sites as spam, so Google will penalize the target. There are software programs that will get the links for you for free as well. This is referred to as "negative SEO" ("SEO" stands for "search engine optimization").

This is why we have 14,000 links from a speed skating site in Holland pointing to on of our sites -- it is an obvious "negative SEO" attack. We wouldn't know how to buy 14,000 links on a skating blog nor have any interest in doing so, but there they are. Google has, unfortunately, decided to enable the entire criminal industry of negative SEO by penalizing sites for links coming to them. That particular site of ours has now lost 98% of Google traffic, and so has lost more than 80% of revenue. We have disappeared from their search results, after having first page listings for many years.

We don't use spinners, and we haven't had to pay for links either. The links we have are mostly from people who found my articles useful and reprinted them on their websites. We try to simply produce quality content that serves the visitors to our sites. Our site howtoremovecarpetstains.com, for example, lays out specific instructions for removing fifty or sixty different stains. My site on ultralight backpacking has more information on that subject than all but a few other sites, yet it has lost almost all traffic.

Google has decided to let other website owners destroy our business. They even sent a notice to us to let us know that they are penalizing theultralightbackpackingsite.com in the search engine results pages due to "unnatural linking" that they have detected. They will not tell us which links they do not like, nor could we afford the lawyers necessary to get the taken down. They have chosen to put dozens of garbage sites ahead of us in the results for searches like "ultralight backpacking" and "lightweight backpacking" in order to fight a battle against "spammers." Of course, the victims in this battle are not the spammers, who have moved on to other projects and who make their money with disposable sites (they can build garbage sites full of spun content in minutes).

I will not participate in the spamming of the internet, and so I will not do the things the spammers and negative SEO crowd does, but for the first time we have to consider at least buying links in order to compete for position in the results. Google says this is what they are trying to stop, yet the more we focus on quality and relevance, the more they penalize our sites. When I go to the forums I see that those who play the SEO games at least sometimes succeed, so what's the lesson?

Google apparently wants us to buy links, and even from those spammy spun-content sites. Nothing else seems to get a site into the top results any longer. "Build a quality website and they will come" is a myth. The truth is that you have to build a website and play the SEO game without getting "caught" by Google, and you then might get some traffic. And unlike negative SEO links, the spammy linkls we buy can be removed as Google identifies them, so we can somewhat protect ourselves. Throw away the old links and buy more. Throw away the websites and build more. I'm not sure if Google intended to change the internet in this way, but with most of the search traffic online going through them, they make the rules.

By the way, if you want a fun brain game, try to reverse engineer the "spun" content you find online. For example, I found this in the first paragraph of a blog post about a baby diaper company:

This company buckles down to serve its customers with the best amenities and to slake their wishes and expectations.

My guess is that it originally said something like;

We try to serve our customers with the best products and to meet their every demand and desire.

But who knows? Of course, when and if Google is able to (sort of) detect this crap, they will almost certainly ban my website or this page from their search results for having it here--even if it is here only as an example. A human would understand but is there really any way to avoid the juggernaut of algorithmic judgment? I doubt it. It is, perhaps, time to play the game.

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