I have been in the SEO game for a bit. I even built a SEO tools company a while back. I recently attend a SXSW Q&A with Danny Sullivan, Matt Cutts, and Duane Forrester. I was shocked at how many people have such basic questions, like WTF, read Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide! What a waste…until someone started to get smarter, thanks Conductor!
The questions were focused on ranking… and Ranking Reports. Basically, how can a company deal with ranking as a KPI.
Good Question I thought, but then I was shocked, Danny got pretty angry at the guy about how a SERP for a keyword done in Austin, TX and one done in NYC produce 2 different results. How ranking is something SEO should NOT be focusing on and how converting is a KPI, not rank. This is very true and I completely agree, but there is a large asterisk that is not being mentioned.
If ranking is not the KPI and conversion is; how do you test conversion and track what is working or not when it comes to local search for your nationwide plumbing company? You would think you would want to do a search for every major city and find where you rank or pull what keywords (city, state) is bringing in the traffic. So you would WANT to know where you rank for all the metros in the US, no? (I’m being serious.) Don’t you want to run a LOT more ranking reports to mimic all of these variations?
Okay, to give them some break in terms of ranking, I raise the question: Why not open up an API much like adwords where you could hit the server and get the ranking result. You could even throttle it in terms of how many per day/etc. Let’s say 1,000 which is what is in place now until they start showing a captaca (what?) (cough cough google). So there are ways to break the system and get around (proxies anyone?), but just think how many resources, cpu, energy, and $$$ is being dropped just to get a rank. I recently attended SES and could list at least 5 companies who are all pulling the same SERP keywords in multiple locations. Talk about wasted resource! Google could easily save millions in server cost as well as save the environment in terms of power costs by opening this up, oh that’s right you killed the SOAP API which could have solved this. Don’t Be Evil, right? Well when you make up your own rules, I have to just call you out Matt.
Google’s TOS 5.3
5.3 You agree not to access (or attempt to access) any of the Services
by any means other than through the interface that is provided by
Google, unless you have been specifically allowed to do so in a
separate agreement with Google. You specifically agree not to access
(or attempt to access) any of the Services through any automated means
(including use of scripts or web crawlers) and shall ensure that you
comply with the instructions set out in any robots.txt file present on
A while back Matt posted up about Google 2000 vs Google 2011. I read it and knew that Matt ran those 40,000 queries BEFORE he was at Google. Matt Cutts even TWEETED back to me to showcase that he broke Google’s TOS 5.3 in terms of an automated script.
So with that, WTF @Google! Since the head of Webspam at Google breaks
Google’s TOS, talk about breaking your own rules! I give up…well kinda.
So with that I think it’s game on! It’s time to open up the flood gates with creativity and give power to build millions of pages in seconds to the marketers (Yea, I said it!) There is no white hat, only black hat. If you build a site on wordpress and write solid content, then it’s white hat. If you focus on optimizing your content for high volume keywords for ranking, and conversion; Congrats! You are heading toward the black hat wannabes, which is what Google WANTS. Hrm, well maybe Google wants blackhats…err maybe more greyhats as blackhat is more when you are working at a LARGE SCALE implementation, right Demand Media? Then again, maybe I am too late with that and the Demand Media’s of the world have already open the flood gates, which is WHY Google launched Panda update during the IPO of Demand Media!
Just think about it. Any site that is trying to improve SEO is black hat, you are trying to game the system. Google wants you to optimize your site, it helps their search, but Google will pull back and slap in the face (Right Jason?) if you try and do this on a larger scale.
Google, are you scared how people might break your SEO algo if you open it up? Seriously, talk about the worst game of cat and mouse. Remember you want to provide the BEST results and BEST experience. If it’s in OUR best interest to GAME YOUR system, you will ALWAYS get caught in this cat/mouse game with the Demand Media’s of the world if you contain down this path.
Seriously, can’t Google be more like Blekko.com, or walk the talk and Don’t Be Evil!