If Google Sculpting Is Dead Then SEO Must Be On Life Support
If Google Sculpting Is Dead Then SEO Must Be On Life Support
Like many of my fellow webmasters...
I have always thought of SEO as optimizing your content, both on-site and off-site, so that it ranks at the top of the search engines. Promoting your content or site should never be a crime in the eyes of Google or any search engine for that matter.
Years ago, before I even knew what SEO was, I wrote an article and submitted it to the major online article directories. Next morning my article and links were on a thousand sites across the web, that may be a bit of an exaggeration but you get the picture. How can Google or anyone fault webmasters for voting on the quality of your content by placing it on their sites?
Same thing happens when your visitors bookmark, tweet or digg your content and you end up on the homepage of Digg with hundreds of sites linking to your content. How can Google fault you for that happening?
Democracy happens. SEO happens.
But not without a lot of promotion and marketing to get the wheels rolling. If you want to sit around and wait for things to happen, buy a big soft cushion and some extra patience at the check-out counter because you're going to need it.
Any business has the right to advertise, to aggressively market their products. How can Google fault any company for doing such a thing? Now outright buying of thousands of links to get your site to the top should be wrong but presenting quality link bait in the form of articles, videos, ebooks, press releases, quality information... and letting webmasters decide what content and sites they want to link to should be at the heart of all this foolishness.
SEO is knowing how to fine-tune your link bait and your site to reach the top spot in organic search.
But is Google cracking down on webmasters who actively pursue this kind of link building? On webmasters who try to get those embedded anchor text links on important relevant sites? Are they trying to give SEO a bad name? Like that's even possible!
Over the years, my sites have held some very profitable keywords on the first page results in organic search, mostly in Google. That's mainly because I optimize my content and web pages to rank well in Google. I have been quietly Google Sculpting for years, controlling what links I want on their first page results.
Actually, ranking well in Google is not rocket science and any idiot can do it; all it takes is good quality content and plenty of good quality backlinks to that content. Anchor text (underlined clickable part of an URL) is extremely important for ranking high in Google but you have to be careful to vary your keywords because many SEO experts believe Google has a keyword quota - use the same keyword too often and your content will be penalized for keyword and/or URL spamming. Makes sense.
Actually, I have been studying and analyzing Google since it was merely an itch on someone's back. And it seems like I have been constantly rubbing that ever changing Algorithm ever since. Generally, it has paid off handsomely for me and I have been a full-time professional online affiliate marketer for 3 or 4 years now.
I am rarely stumped by Google but it does happen occasionally. And recently my SEO alter ego took a massive beating, some kind of filter has taken one of my main keyword phrases off the first page of Google and landed it in the 60th place. Ouch!
What is even compounding the problem, this keyword phrase sometimes bounces back onto the first page and then back off again. This is not like Google, they are never erratic unless it's one of their dances or a major update when all hell usually breaks loose. For the most part, my keywords in Google have been fairly stable, if they drop, they drop slowly and because I have stopped promoting them. Years of monitoring your keywords tells you something very different is happening here in this case.
It is totally frustrating when Google won't do what you want them to do! Usually they are so easy to lead and they take directions so well. However, this recent erratic keyword bouncing in Google has me so perplexed I am stumbling to find possible reasons. I am jumping to conclusions way too quickly.
In my case, Google was listing both my main index homepage and my optimized page for the same keyword phrase. This appears to be diluting the ranking of both pages. The optimized page was at around 50 and my homepage came in at the 95 spot. However, this seems to be more my mistake than Google's, since I inadvertently placed the same keyword phrase in links on my homepage going to other interior pages and not necessarily to my main optimized page which I wanted and which is usually ranked in Google for this keyword phrase.
Let me explain further, I develop sections/guides on my site that are keyworded to different markets generally relating to the theme of my site or domain. For the keyword phrase in question, I have a well established page that's linked from hundreds of related sites around the web – this is the page that should be ranked for this keyword phrase since it is the most relevant, not my homepage. Likewise, on my own site I have constructed my pages so that PR flows to this optimized page. For years, this optimized interior page held the number one spot in Google.
Could this possibly have something to with regards to PageRank Sculpting, which Matt Cutts spoke about in a recent blog post? If PR sculpting no longer works on my site, can this be causing the erratic bouncing of that particular keyword but if this is true - why aren't my other keywords turning into bungee cord wannabes?
Now there could be separate filters at play here and the above scenario has nothing to do with these bouncing keywords within Google. It seems to be connected with URL spamming in some form or manner, even when those links are legitimate links coming from quality sites. It seems Google's Algorithm has become so sophisticated and complex, it probably has developed a mind of its own and nobody can tell it what to do.
However, it is always rather foolish to draw conclusions regarding Google on just a few erratic keywords. But something definitely has changed in how Google is ranking those keywords - could it be that PageRank Sculpting or even Google Sculpting is killing the old tried and true SEO techniques. I am seeing a lot more Brand Rankings in the SERPs which Aaron Wall talked about a little while back; I am also seeing much more relevance on News listings, more relevance on Video listings... can Google be shaking up the whole ranking order?
Rumor has it that many top Google big-wigs are upset with the introduction of Microsoft's Bing into the search arena. That orders have gone out to shake up and improve Google's Algorithm... to further combat this pesty new competition.
But does Google have to worry about Bing? The answer is a possible yes - if you do a side by side comparison of Google and Bing here:www.blackdog.ie/google-bing/search-com.php
You will see Bing is not half bad - whether it can give Google a run for its search dollar money is still up in the air but it could definitely eat into Google's share of the search market. I am seeing Bing turning up in my own traffic stats with a lot more traffic than I get from MSN or Windows Live - now it's no where near the amount of traffic Google delivers but still it more than what was there before Bing launched.
All this shouldn't give Google any sleepless nights but Google can't afford to take too many catnaps if it wants to keep its dominance in online search.
Could all these background events be playing into Google's shakeup of how it lists popular lucrative keywords. I am not seeing the same kind of movement in my other less profitable keywords. Can Google be hand-picking certain lucrative keywords and applying different standards or filters to those keywords? Are there "human eyes" filtering Google's organic rankings? Extremely hard to believe given Google well deserved reputation, but something is definitely not routine as usual in the Kingdom of Google?
It now seems to rank high for certain lucrative keywords in Google, you MUST have TWO highly ranked optimized pages instead of JUST one?
Is this a new and more powerful ranking factor which overrules most other factors? It's my most burning SEO question at the moment. What has caused that keyword to drop so far, so fast? And why does this keyword phrase seem to be in Everflux, with new listings jumping unto the first page every day. The rankings/listings are much, much more fluid than they used to be; if Google ranks all its keywords in this fluctuating manner, SEO may indeed be dead. At least whitehat SEO where the webmaster is doing everything according to the rules.
Again, this is micro-reasoning on my part since all this could be just some filters holding my keywords back or recent activity from competing sites have suddenly increased and my rankings have naturally dropped when compared to them. But I have held that keyword for years in Google, how dare other sites take my spot? For the other sites to gain so quickly and for mine to fall so fast and so far has me scratching my head. Something just doesn't smell right in the land of Google?
Could something more sinister be going on? Could someone be Google Sculpting my links in the opposite direction? Since it's so easy to sculpt or convince Google to list your page, can it be just as easy for someone to use underhand methods to get your page or site ranked lower? Spam your link on thousands of nasty sites or simply get you ranked for two pages for the same keyword, one of them that's poorly optimized such as your homepage so as to pull both of them down lower. This is too laughable and too paranoid to entertain, or is it?
Regardless, I have learned long ago, SEO has to be taken with a large grain of salt. Besides, this is just one of thousands of keywords I am monitoring. Win or lose, I am having the time of my life, even when Google goes erratic and won't do what I want them to do. After all, when everything is said and done; SEO means never having to say you're sorry....
All views, opinions and conclusions expressed in this article are solely those of the author who is a full time online affiliate marketer. He earns a living by ranking high in the search engines for lucrative keywords. His main site offers Free Guides on everything associated with running a business from Corporate Business Gifts to Online Fax Providers to Internet Marketing Tools. Titus Hoskins Copyright.
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