Why More SEO is the Only Way To Clean Up the SERP’s – Killing Links is Not the Answer

OK,this is going to be short but sweet and mostly me rambling, however try and stay with me I do have a point :)

Right, there has been a lot of moaning around the web about the state of the SERP’s, in fact I have done a fair bit myself, mostly about the crappy results being returned for pretty commercial terms.

Then Rand at SEOmoz brought up the issue and literally just today there was another post on the SEOmoz blog highlighting some crazy results Googlere returning a.

As far as I am concerned the moaning is over, there needs to be a solution and I don’t think killing links is the way forward.

The Link Graph

Many have suggested that the problem is the link graph, the fact it  is too easily manipulated and until Google drop their current model they’re always going to struggle with Spam, this has an element of truth in it but there is a fundamental problem.

Without the link graph Google have no business model…..they need a way of ranking sites and any other method just isn’t going to cut it.

Google commands a massive amount of targeted traffic, no matter what method or data is used to rank sites there is always going to be manipulation out there, where money can be made the scammers will always be around.

The Social Graph

Google have admitted to using social signals to rank sites and even though I have seen multiple examples of this working I still think it’s a minor rather than a major factor.

You can guarantee that if it became a ‘major’ factor paid tweets would be rife, spammed and hacked facebook profiles would become the ‘norm’ & paid stumblers, diggs, reddits etc…. would become even more popular than they already are.

Anchor Text

It has been mentioned on SEOmoz multiple times that anchor text is the issue and that Google should seriously devalue the impact it has on rankings but where to they add that value?

High PageRank = More Link buying

In content = More blog networks

Trust = Does anyone really know what that is??

I think the fact is no matter where Google tweak there algorithm it is always going to manipulated.

All Hope is Lost?

As far as I can see the only real way to sort this issue is to make more webmasters/business owners and bloggers aware of SEO how it works and why you should be investing in it.

Of course you’d say that Tim?

Well ye I would, however I honestly believe it’s the only way to clean up the SERP’s. Think of it this way you’re a business owner, you’re hot on SEO, you have a fantastic site and a top product, you see a fake spam site pop above you for your main keyword, obviously spam and not likely to be legitimate.

So what do you do??

You report it and it is removed within days, job done.

Now I know I am going to have those that passionately disagree with me and think this is encouraging site outing and it is but let me be clear.

If you have a genuine competitor that has bought a link on a dodgy site, that’s not spam, your Job or whoever is in charge of SEO is to beat them. A spam site is one that offers no value to a user what so ever, a genuine website is not spam regardless of how many anchor text links they have.

So the more people understand SEO, the more will understand spam, the more spam reports are complete and the less spam there is in the index.

There will be many big brand websites out there that think they should rank regardless because of there trust, brand presence or some other invisible factor, the truth is if you want a piece of the Google pie you have to invest, let’s all stop the moaning and get on with what we know works.

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……