SEO Quotes of the Month - December 2012

Written by Stephen Jones - 13 Dec 2012

December heralded the festive hint of Christmas to Fresh Egg with a delightful change of weather from rain to very, very cold rain. In the business world our favourite search engine got fed up with other people playing with its toys and possibly found itself on Santa’s naughty list. The death of SEO was predicted again (hurrah! There had to be at least one this year), although if Mayan conspiracy theorists are correct, it won’t really matter anyway.

Paul Boag, Smashing Magazine [source] kicks the SEO hornet nest with the “truth” about SEO:

“ If you care about how you rank, it is time to take responsibility for your website’s content. Once you overcome the initial hurdle, you will find that producing quality content on an ongoing basis becomes second nature.”

This got a huge and rather emotive response from the SEO community, and I’m really not sure why. Yes, the article is somewhat belligerent and dismissive in its premise, but from the reactions from notable individuals in SEO you’d think they’d never seen an article written for dramatic effect (or even a forum troll for that matter). It’s the equivalent of Sheldon Cooper’s comments on Geology in The Big Bang Theory.

There’s nothing wrong with Boag’s comments that sites need to improve their content. It is, after all, there in black and white in the Google guidelines and has largely been what two years of major algorithm updates have been all about. He’s also correct in asserting that this takes effort and hard work. While it used to be much easier to create lots of offsite links than a decent piece of content that attracted a variable amount of organic linking, one of these methods has gone the way of the Dodo and now it’s the hard way or no way at all.

Where I’d question the article is if there is a serious SEO agency out there that isn’t repeating the same advice about content to its clients, and been doing so for some time.

Pamela Parker, Search Engine Land [source] comments on the recent statements by Raven Tools and Ahrefs:

“Though Google denies conducting any sort of crackdown, it does seem that the team monitoring compliance with the AdWords API’s terms of service are being more zealous than they’ve been in previous years.”

Both Raven Tools and Ahrefs have shut down features which rely on scraped data from Google, after apparently having their access API under threat of being revoked. It hasn’t just been Google that’s been tightening up its user policies, this year Twitter also caused consternation for some third party software tools after blocking API access . . . even SEOmoz, usually the poster-children of Google-approved activity has had its keyword API revoked following what it described as “intermittent access”.

It’s no surprise that a company would tighten up policies on its data provision where people are, frankly, taking the mickey. Individuals conducting research are one thing, but when you have so many third parties offering membership packages that provide industrial-scale scraping for campaigns, that has to start making an impact on even Google’s servers.

It would be understandable if Google was offering a paid alternative to this data; it’s so useful that those paying subscriptions to third parties would gladly pay Google instead. Unfortunately it seems like this train set is being put away where no-one can have it, which rather suggests Google is making it harder for automated methods to exploit search trends and putting the focus on non-automated methods of content design instead.

James Dohnert, V3 UK [source] talks about the “Double Irish” and “Dutch Sandwich”

No, these aren’t delicious items of Christmas food and drink, they’re popular (and legal) methods of funnelling company profits around the globe to avoid paying tax. It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that after enjoying some very favourable payment terms on yearly profits, many multinational companies are now in the spotlight about the amount of tax they pay to countries in which they operate.

Having done nothing technically wrong or illegal, Google is now being investigated in the US and UK for tax avoidance schemes, with various Government spokespeople vowing to update legislation on offshore accounting practices.

For some reason, the following advice from Google’s Quality Guidelines seems relevant:

“Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit.”

Well said, Google. Happy Christmas.