Category Archives: SEO Crap

Pissed Off Webmaster’s 5 Minute Rant On Google Hangout

I love me some Search Engine Roundtable. I read Barry’s website on a daily basis and he consistently finds some of the most unique stuff that no one else reports on (or at least they don’t report on it until Barry puts it out there first).  Seriously, first thing I do when I get in the office is head over to Barry’s site and see what’s brewing in the world of search.

One of the more interesting finds came up this morning from a Google Webmaster Hangout.  If you skip to the 8 minute mark, you can catch Gary Lee really laying into John Mueller about the fact that they’ve been playing by the rules for years and can’t crack page 1 because they have a bunch of black hats in their industry doing black hat stuff.

I’m sure that most of us who focus on white hat can feel this guy’s pain.  Unfortunately, this is hardly surprising.  It doesn’t matter what the search engines do.  People will always find shortcuts and black hat tactics.  And yes, there will always be a double standard when it comes to big sites vs small sites.  It sucks, but you can’t fight the white whale and expect to win.

Posted in SEO Crap.

Google – Focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site that actually helps

Seriously?  Sometimes I really hate what the world of SEO and SEM has become.  In a recent Google “hangout” [just threw up in my mouth a little], dude asks “is link building in any way good?”.  The response from John Mueller is pure Google:

That is a good question.
In general, I’d try to avoid that.

So that you are really sure that your content kind of stands on its own and make it possible for other people of course to link to your content. Make it easy, maybe, put a little widget on your page, if you like this, this is how you can link to it. Make sure that the URLs on your web site are easy to copy and paste. All of those things make it a little bit easier.

We do use links as part of our algorithm but we use lots and lots of other factors as well. So only focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site that actually helps.

Everyone knows that the biggest ranking factor is links.  That’s why SEOs have been preaching links for the past decade or so.  Unfortunately, in the eyes of Google, if it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck, than it is obviously linkspam.  Seriously, it’s starting to feel a bit like William Bligh with Google being the HMS Bounty.

This just exacerbates the entire problem with SEO.  If you reach out to people and ask for links, you’re seen in the eyes of Google as a spammer.  Never mind the fact that this is the core responsibility of any PR department.  That’s right folks.  Google has taken an entire industry and told them that they are nothing more than a bunch of black hat spammers.  Which of course is funny considering the fact that Google has over 40 job listings under the category of PR.  He who has the gold makes the rules I suppose.

Full disclosure on this – I haven’t been actively reaching out for links in years (personally or professionally).  We build pages that we feel have good information.  If people link, so be it.  If they don’t, so be it.  And yes, I actively review, prune and manage by disavow list. I no longer have the patience to try and decipher the cryptic “instructions” that the PTB at Google provide.  Penalties suck and Penguin penalties super suck, so SEO has turned from a game of trying to improve your rankings to trying to avoid penalties.  Awesome.

Posted in SEO Crap.

Online Ratings Now More Worthless Than Ever

Ok, let me couch that. Online ratings are now more worthless than ever to end users.

There’s a new game in town folks, and that game is selling bogus reviews to get pretty little stars attached to your Adwords ads.  For those who have never noticed them, they look a little something like this:

review

 

When Google first started assigning star ratings to Adwords ads (back in April 2014 if memory serves), they were using reputable resources such as Bizrate for those reviews. Last year though, everything changed. Instead of just using a few trusted sources, Google opened the floodgates and created a new cottage industry of allegedly selling bullshit reviews.

If you’re not familiar, here’s how it works. Adwords charges on a “per click” basis. The price and position though isn’t just based on the amount you’re willing to bid. It is a calculation based on your max bid, the quality of your ad, the quality of the landing page and the click through rate. Basically, Google is trying to figure out how to maximize their revenue by showing the most relavent ads. The idea of adding the star ratings is to improve click through rates on ads, hypothetically decreasing the cost per click (as CTR is a large component of the Adwords quality score calculation).

The problem though is that there are now dozens of companies that are in the business of gathering reviews and giving the data they gather to Adwords. Now, I get weekly calls and daily emails from extremely aggressive salespeople from these review aggregators and they all come with the same basic sales pitch:

“Hey Mike, I see you’re spending quite a bit of money on Adwords. I’ve got a great way for you to decrease your cost per click! Google leverages reviews collected by as a data source for its seller rating extension and it has been shown to increase click through rates by 17% on average! Oh, and did I mention that we guarantee that 95% of your reviews will be 4 or 5 stars and less than half of one percent will be one star? Seriously, how strong is that?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?”

No offense to the great Herb Tarlek, but I’m pretty sure that all of these jackasses that waste my time on a daily basis look like this:

herb-tarlek

If you then look at the reviews from these companies, you’ll notice that somehow everyone is averaging 4 stars or higher. One of these services goes on to claim that 95% of their ratings are either 4 or 5 stars. If you believe that 95% of the ecommerce companies deserve 4 stars or higher, put down the bong and the Grape Ape, as you’re clearly abusing your MMJ card. As for the quality of the reviews, the vast majority are short, one liners like “always a pleasure” or “great site”. No details, nothing to show that these are verified buyers or in any way legit. Just page after page of worthless 3-5 word, 5 star reviews for companies you’ve never heard of.

Not surprisingly, there are now hundreds of individuals on Fiverr offering to sell you positive reviews.  These guys were there before, offering to write you Yelp reviews to artificially boost your Yelp stars, but now the floodgates are open.  And don’t worry if the reviews don’t actually make any sense, are written in broken English or simply look like they came from spambots.  After all, if the review services don’t care/encourage these types of reviews, why should we?

Honestly, I don’t blame companies for using this service. Google has created an environment where they are effectively encouraging Adwords customers to use these systems, as they allow the companies to publicize the fact that their review data is used by Google. This then encourages sales people to use aggressive and deceptive tactics to make sales.

Are all the companies Google uses bogus? Are all the reviews bullshit?  Of course not.   Just keep in mind though that the next time you see 80k five star reviews for a company you’ve never heard of, there just might be the slightest hint of cow feces wafting from the rating.

Posted in SEO Crap.