My View on the State of the SERPS

Any newbie’s reading?? SERPS = Search engine results pages 🙂

OK, I am sure most of my readers saw the post by Rand on SEOmoz this week talking about spam in the index, results that offer little value but are still ranking highly. He reels off a load of results in the engines that have a few ‘spammy’ sites in the top ten. He then quickly moves on to talk about cheap directories, forum posting etc… and how these cheap links are helping websites rank better.

Now you should head over there and read the article, don’t take everything that is said on face value but do read it as both the post and comments below raise some interesting points and I’d like to take a moment to go over them now.

I don’t leave many comments, usually due to time however I left one over at SEOmoz, couple of thumbs down but hey you can’t win them all.

My View

I think it’s really important when thinking about ‘Spam’ results that we confirm what they actually are;

My view is that if a website has compelling, useful content and/or provides an excellent first class product or service that is relevant to a search query, then it CANNOT be spam…

It doesn’t matter how many directory links a site has, how many forums they have pointing at them or even cheap follow comments, if it does the above and is relevant it is not spam… In my opinion 🙂

The debate whether or not these type of links should count is a completely separate debate and has no impact what so ever on the results Google returns….

Users aren’t bothered about links profiles, SEO’s and online marketers are, if a result is relevant then that’s all a user really wants.

Should Cheap Link Profiles Work?

You know what? I don’t really care about what should work, only about what does work! I may get a few Holy SEO’s pulling faces but hey the SERPS has never been a fair playing field, our Jobs’ as SEOs is to find out what works and implement it.

I am yet to see a truly excellent resource get punished because the SEOs went and submitted to a few spammy directories.

However, what I don’t want to do is encourage anyone to go out there and spam a load of directories, when it comes to your link profile the best piece of advice I can give is “be diverse”.

More on Diversity

As you can imagine ranking for the ‘SEO’ keywords I keep a fairly close eye on my competition and what they are doing, and quite frankly I’m disappointed to see some fairly mundane tactics.

I am not into outing and am certainly not going name names, however some of the high ranking SEO companies in the UK have clearly lost the plot.

In short this is what is happening;

A company is buying a load of ‘SEO’ anchor links and getting a rise in the SERPS, then Google is discounting them and they drop position, sometimes a few places back, then the same cycle is being repeated over and over again.

Guys….. Come on, even though yes you can say your ranking there 60% of the time with this tactic, how much are you spending? What is your monthly text link ad bill???? More importantly how long will Google play the yo-yo game with you??

If you have been watching the SERPS over the last 6 months and have been a practicing SEO you will have noticed a huge drop off in the effectiveness of the traditional text ad, they just aren’t as powerful anymore, yes they have some impact but nowhere near what they used to!! Bad news link sellers.

Both myself and Patrick at Blogstorm noticed this drop off early in the year and have created diverse link strategies to tackle it and I have to say the ranking increases we have seen have been huge.

Everyone should be looking to create diverse links with diverse anchor text, use all your knowledge and resources, articles, forums, directories, comments, bookmarking, guest blogging, viral marketing and if your of that persuasion maybe the odd text link.

No one tactic is going to work anymore and Google is changing there algo so rapidly it is impossible to maintain any one successful tactic (other than link bait if you in the right industry).

The Social Graph

Now there has been talk about this ever since Digg launched!! In my opinion using the social graph as a ranking model is more prone to abuse than the link graph. We have already seen how Digg, Stumble and twitter can easily be abused and already paid tweets, facebook thumbs up and stumbles are all the rage.

However, just because I don’t think the social graph will replace the link graph, I do think Google can make good use of the information and it might be a ranking factor.

I am not a social expert, I struggle with online social interaction due to a lack of ROI, however I reckon I could still figure out how to abuse it within 24 hours pretty easily, what more can I say.

I’d love to know all your thoughts on this, what links do you think should count? Do you think sites should be punished for ‘cheap’ link tactics? Do you think the social graph could take over or become a ranking factor?

Would be good to get some thoughts on this……