Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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There is a really good discussion over at YouMoz / SEOMoz about the ethics of SEO especially as it relates to SMBs… and it's about Google and Spammers and SMBs that want quick easy rankings and marketing responsibility and… it's worth a read.

It was written by Marie Haynes, a member here at the Local Search Forum and the very 1st person I ever did Google Places Training for.

It's sort of a made up story about a Plumber, but a story everyone here should be able to relate to. She summarizes at the end with the following...

Are SEOs Destroying Small Businesses? A Penguin Story - YouMoz | SEOmoz

The world of SEO is changing! I believe that the day is coming when there will be no easy ways to get backlinks. A good SEO knows how to network and where to cultivate links. And better yet, a good SEO can help with content creation that is going to attract natural links...and then promote that content!

But what do you think? Will today's linkbuilding strategies last? Are SEOs who use these tactics likely to cause their clients to get penalized? And more importantly, are poor quality SEOs destroying small businesses?

I could really relate to many of Dana's comments - snippets below.

Still, we are all so susceptible to the idea of making it big overnight. We are so easily seduced because we are greedy. Good marketers know how to captialize on that greed, and SEOs marketing SEO are apt to tap into that just like anyone else selling stuff.

So, I'd argue, that the blame really should be shared by business owners looking for an easy, fast, cheap way to get what they want and SEO's who are irresponsibly giving it to them.

I do think that Google's lack of transparency and being very difficult to use for small business owners is a huge part of the problem. Google expects small businesses to learn how to submit sitemaps, shopping feeds, and markup. Big companies can hire people to do this for them, while the little guys just get further and further behind.

Following are a couple of my comments

Even though I specialize in local now, local IS currently mainly about the organic algo. So when SMBs come for help at the Google and your Business forum or my Local Search Forum asking why their ranking dropped - it's no longer as simple as checking to see if they have any G+ Local violations or dupes. You have to look at what they've done on the organic SEO side of the house and sometimes, as with Joe, it ain't pretty.

True of any business, but I think SMBs often want to take the quick, cheap, easy route to ranking and often the companies that make the biggest promises for the lowest buck are the link building SEOs. And even though I think business owners need to be accountable for their own online campaigns, I just think many have no clue what type of marketing is being done for them or what type of negative impact it can have.

and later I said...

Doug said: "Google created SEO as the cat and mouse game that it is. Personally, I'd be happy if Google made SEO easy and honest & open. The system they've allowed to flourish is one that hurts many small businesses as much as it helps others."

Actually I think the problem is the damn spammers! That's why Google can't make things transparent and easy. As soon as spammers find a way to game the system, Google has to find a way to thwart them. It's been that way for years. (Think old old days, tiny text or whatever.) Spammers do something, Google cracks down. Innocent webmaster does the same thing for the right reasons not trying to be spammy, not knowing it's a problem and the baby gets thrown out with the bath water.

I know this from being a Top Contributor at the Google Business forum and dealing with the Google Places guidelines all the time. There too, Google can't come right out and say "always do this and never do this" because that just gives the spammers and fake Place page builders a road map to follow. So guidelines are intentionally vague and SMBs break the rules all the time not even knowing it's a problem - because it's not clearly spelled out and can't be.

Google and the spammers - that's the biggest cat and mouse game of all IMO.

Not to negate what you are saying. I totally get it from your viewpoint, just explaining why Google can't make it easy and transparent.

Anyway, head over and read the whole discussion. Are SEOs Destroying Small Businesses? A Penguin Story - YouMoz | SEOmoz

What do you think?
Comment here or there and share your thoughts.
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