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Is Google The New McCarthy - Fear And Loathing
In The SEO World



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Is Google The New McCarthy - Fear And Loathing In The SEO World
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It has been a few nasty years in the world of SEO. And it all has to do with Google and their relentless series of Algorithm changes - especially the Panda and Penguin Updates. This is probably not the scenario anyone expected to be played out in this somewhat secret and hidden field of Search Engine Optimization - at least secret where the general public is concerned.

However, in the SEO world and for those who follow such matters, things have gone horribly wrong and the fallout is just starting to take effect.

One would like to take the high road and give Google the benefit of the doubt - could they have possibly known how drastic and devastating the relentless series of updates would be for webmasters and site owners, especially those belonging to small or struggling business endeavours. It is extremely hard to believe, that Google could be so cruel or even know the true consequences of these changes? Again, we will be kind and state for the record, we don't believe Google planned all this chaos, but we could be wrong.

Actually, we will put the whole issue of rankings aside for one moment, this is not the subject of this article. Keep in mind, any Google change (minor or major) will bring about winners and losers. Usually the losers cause the most noise and uproar; the winners quietly smile all the way to the bank. And of course, never forget, one's Google rankings is at the heart of all these changes, but for the purposes of this piece, we are looking at a far more important and long-lasting consequences of these updates.

In a nutshell...

Has Google's relentless series of Algorithm updates really changed HOW webmasters/site owners view and treat links on the web?

Let's backtrack a little and fill in a few details. Google has been making updates and changes with its search engine from the very beginning. Seasoned webmasters have weathered countless updates, many of the major ones were even given names such as the Florida Update, which appeared in November of 2003 and often referred to as the one that started all this foolishness. Other Major Updates had names such as Brandy (February 2004), Big Daddy (December 2005) and Caffeine (June 2010).

Now, beginning with the first Panda/Farmer algorithm update on February 23, 2011, one major shift in Google's methods spelled the end for countless sites. Instead of just dealing with poor quality pages and ranking them accordingly - the Panda Update judged and ranked your WHOLE site. Perfectly good content was lowered in the rankings if Google found your site to have too many duplicate, low quality content or judged to be a content farm. In other words,a few bad pages and your whole site suffered.

While affected webmasters complained loudly, most could see Google's reasoning behind this issue. Besides. what webmaster doesn't want to clean up their site if they can afford it. In many cases, once these sites were cleaned up or fixed, the former Google rankings came back to some extent. However, webmasters for the most part, are not a stupid bunch and here's where Panda caused serious damage. Once certain sites were marked as content farms because of Panda, webmasters en masse, dropped any links to these "marked" sites.

Many perfectly good sites, not only suffered because of the drop in rankings caused by Panda but also lost rankings and visibility on the web when other sites didn't want to be associated with what Google has now labeled as a poor quality site. This caused a ripple effect, with many good legitimate sites suffering the fallout. Can you say McCarthy?

Links are the lifeblood of the web, the more quality links a site has, the more traffic it will get. Once a site received a falling red mark from Google, many lost tons of links which meant less visibility on the web and even less traffic from the other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo.

However, while the whole series of Panda Updates and their fallout, did a lot of damage to the web - but it was nothing compared to what happened when Google unleased Penguin on April 24, 2012. Google upped the ante here because this directly tied in your rankings to the quality of your incoming links and the quality of your outgoing links. In other words, your site's whole link profile was being judged and ranked. If you or your site associated with bad neighbors or poor quality sites - your rankings tanked in Google. If you or your site had too many bad links flowing into your site, your rankings tanked in Google.

Google As BullyPenguin was created to combat webspam and personally attack those sites or webmasters which were manipulating Google's rankings via keyword stuffing, anchor text manipulation and blog link networks. Many webmasters believed they and their sites were unfairly judged by Penguin.

Again, like Panda this new update affected the whole of your site and just not a few pages. The fallout was massive and unprecedented. Webmasters scrambled to get unwanted links removed from low or poor quality sites - some even had to sue to get these links removed. Webmasters also now started removing links from their own sites - just to be on the safe side. Whether they intended or not, Google was in fact, blacklisting certain sites and webmasters on the web.

Many innocent webmasters and site owners cried foul, this was a perfect example of McCarthyism. Many felt as if they were fighting false accusations and Google even supplied a form where one can snitch on their follow webmasters. The real nasty part also concerned negative SEO or commonly referred to as Google Bowling - a competitor can place/create thousands of spammy links and point them at your site. Google sees all these low quality links pointing to your site and your rankings take an immediate nosedive.

While Google protested the effectiveness of this negative SEO, the outcry was so great that Google had to put a "Link Disavow Tool" in Webmasters Tools so that these unwanted links were neutralized when Google ranked your site. Many believe Google is or will use this information to see which sites/links are generally regarded as low quality by other webmasters. McCarthy would be very proud, but it might be hard for the general public to understand what all this fuss is about.

Again, some background information is probably needed.

Over the years, the fear Google has planted and nurtured in site owners is enormous. Rankings can disappear within seconds, one minute you're running a successful online business, and the next minute you're invisible on the web, or at least where Google is concerned. Most times, webmasters are completely baffled by Google's ranking changes and many have grown a weary mistrust of anything to do with Google.

One of the main reason for this mistrust lies in the very success of Google. Not only does Google control the majority of the web search traffic, but any traffic coming from Google is extremely valuable so any movement up or down in their SERPs will be noticed immediately. For very lucrative keywords this can mean the failure or success of your business - especially if your site is removed for the first page results.

Now there are countless ways to get targeted traffic on the web, but few webmasters or online marketers would argue the fact that traffic coming from Google is some of best converting on the web. It's not only targeted search traffic but Google has built up a brand which is totally trusted by web users. In other words, just a movement of a few places in your rankings can mean a significant drop or rise in sales and leads.

For this reason, Google rankings are closely monitored and major updates such as Panda and Penguin can throw everything into turmoil. Just visit any of the SEO forums and you will see examples of this turmoil applied against actual websites and online businesses. The fear is almost palpable and the distrust seems to be growing with each new update or change.

However, when all the Penguin changes this fear took on a whole new angle - not only were webmasters fearful of placing links to sites and content which they believed to be helpful to their visitors/users, but they also were fearful of placing keyword links on their own sites, even though they knew those links would prove helpful to their visitors and enhance their experience. We are not making this stuff up folks, see a discussion of this issue here at WebProNews.

Here is where the major fallout from all the changes from both Panda and Penguin directly affects the health of the web. We all know keyword linking is the cornerstone of the web. These targeted links are what makes the web relevant and useful for browsers - reduce these keyword links and the web as a whole becomes less relevant and useful. While no one can accurately judge how many of those vital links were removed because of Panda/Penguin, but every alert webmaster on the planet has no doubt examined all their links since the introduction of these updates. Many of these links, some very useful ones, didn't survive the cut.

It's here where the fear of Google has impacted the web and it goes much deeper than just ranking in Google or any search engine for that matter. The fallout will be around for years to come and will keep growing. Like the "Red" threats of bygone years, this fear may be unfounded, but it is never the less a force which has actual consequences and has to be dealt with in some manner.

It is also this fear, real or imagined, which makes Google the new McCarthy.

Surely Google must be aware all this commotion and turmoil can't be good for its corporate image, even if it's mostly webmasters and site owners who are feeling the direct impact. The general public may be blind to these changes, but Google must surely realize they have done the web and keyword linking significant harm when it comes to relevancy. Fighting keyword spam is a noble goal and should be applauded but hasn't Google thrown out the baby with the bath water this time?

It seems like Google is taking notice and doing some serious damage control with all these updates and they're probably putting their Public Relations Handlers into overdrive. For example, Matt Cutts had been forecasting for months the next Penguin 2.0 would be very severe. However, when it rolled out this past May 22nd, there was much less of an impact than webmasters expected, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. This is an old politician's tactic, predict dire things to come, and when the ball drops, everyone is relieved because the impact wasn't half as bad as what had been forecasted.

Unfortunately, for those affected by Google's constant stream and stress of Algorithm updates, there's little time to relax. Regardless of how whitehat your SEO methods may be, the next Google Update may just have your site's name on it. Even if you're not hit by the next update, it doesn't mean your online business won't be affected indirectly with McCarthy-like fallout as we have seen with Panda and Penguin. Call it anything you want, this fallout can sometimesbe just as lethal to your online site as the actual changes.

Maybe your only comfort will come from a few words which may prove true over the long haul. Just keep repeating to yourself, over and over again, the following words:

The Web Is Mightier Than Google.

.........................................Related Resources worth checking out:If you want a much more detailed analysis on all these Google Algorithm Changes and how you can fix them - try this Special Report on Google Panda/PenguinOr some of these might also help:5 Google Filter Penalties For RankingsFixing Google's Penguin PenaltyThe Five Pillars Of Google Search - Do You Know Them?Content Is Not King, Google Is King.........................................

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Titus HoskinsMy name is and I am an artist, writer and webmaster. I am also a former art teacher who has been a full-time Online Professional Marketer for the last 10 years.

Bizwaremagic.com is my main website, but I have many more. You can follow me on Twitter, Linkedin and Google+.























McCarthyism


Wikipedia defines McCarthyism as "the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence."

The phrase gets it name from Joseph Raymond "Joe" McCarthy who was a Republican Senator from Wisconsin. Arising from the Cold War tensions, McCarthy head-lined a whole series of accusations/hearings concerning the "Red Scare" of the early 1950's in America. The NcCarthy era was one of distrust, blacklists, false accusations and all-out fear mongering.

Today, the term NcCarthyism has a more general meaning and often refers to demagogic, reckless, and unsubstantiated accusations.

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