Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stephen Spencer talks...funny...about Google...

I was just watching some of the popular videos on WebProNews and I was struck by how much of the SEO talks are a rehash. Repetitive, redundent, and they say the same thing over again. Many times, in a funny way.

I'm using the word funny since I don't want to trash the guy. Steve Spencer gave a good interview with a few gems in it. For instance, I really liked the point he made that you shouldn't try to buy your way to large numbers of links. Instead, you should use your paid (I personally don't pay so I would say my "controlled" links for those that come from friendly sites) links to focus on certain pages and anchor text. Actually, this isn't exactly what he said but I'm building on his point.

Another real good point he made was how much you should focus on links that appear to be part of actually content, not run-of-site or sidebar links since Google's mission is to rank pages based on editorial citation, not this other type of link.

This is where Steve Spencer talked funny. (OK, I'm nit picking on a guy who was probably jet lagged and running thru the usual conference madness) He talked about how Google is just a company and has no role telling people how to build their pages. "They're not the police or a government agency". He said that in the commercial world, sponsorship happens. He cited a company that gave T shirts to a LittleLeague Team. That team would surely cite their sponsor on their web site, perhaps on every page. And there's no way that google should try to stop it.

Google would respond by agreeing. It's a funny point.

The relevant point is that Google tries to build a search engine based on finding the best results as determined by citations (or links). Google is free to define what types of citations it will weigh in which ways. And they are free to tell those of us that want to get citations that help us with their engine, what should and shouldn't be done. We don't have to like the rules, we can disagree with their direction, we don't have to follow them. In Steve's example of the Little League team, Google should not count the sponsoring company higher because of their contribution to Little League. Or at least, not much higher. Giving T shirts should not be a way to get webpages ranked higher in the search engine.

But, if our goal is for the google search engine to rank our site highly, it would funny to not follow their directions. And funny to complain that google is telling us how to build citations that improve our ranking. If someone doesn't like being told, don't listen. But don't complain about them telling you how to run your business. They're not, they're just telling you how to comply with the citations that they care about.


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