It’s been a few months since Google rolled out a major update designed to combat manipulative links. While this update was expected to only affect about 3% of searches, one poll showed that 65% of SEOs believed they were negatively affected by this update. Such disparate opinions on this change shows how much this update shook SEO to the core. It caused many to claim that SEO was dead.
What the results really mean is that 65% of SEOs work with a site that google believes has used manipulative links to achieve high rankings. This update didn’t care if these links were created during an experiment or as part of an ongoing campaign. Penguin exposed quite a few skeletons. Let’s face it, there was a time that getting 1000 links for $10 was too good to pass up for a struggling site. If there were no risk to such low cost linking strategies, there’d be no reason not to try them. However, if everyone tries them it just pollutes the web with low quality manipulation.
Google has always had webmaster guidelines which threatened a manual action penalty for such un-natural linking behavior. Penguin was able to algorithmically enforce some aspect of this proscription, creating ripples in the SEO world.
However SEO is far from dead. If anything it’s more alive than ever. The rules of SEO haven’t changed, just the enforcement of these rules. All of us should want these efforts to succeed, as it will make the web a better place. Sustainable SEOs recognize that we still have to do the work to earn the equity of a top ranking, and we shouldn’t be tempted by the promise of a quick win on a site that doesn’t deserve to be there.
If anything SEO needs to move from talking about manipulation, and work to become a true strategic partner for our clients. It is our job to advise our client on not only the technical aspects of site architecture that will clarify our sites purpose to search engines, but also prescribe the activities online and off that will earn the attention (and links) of influencers large and small. At RankHammer, we believe that it is our duty to drive this next generation of SEO.