Tuesday, February 07, 2006
I come from a liberal, non-punishing type of family.
I remember when my sis and I were raising a ruckus as small children, we'd usually be convinced to shape up with a few words, or well-placed silences. But sometimes we wouldn't be, so our parents would half-jokingly say: "Quieten down up there or I'm coming up there with a big stick!" The problem with that one, of course, is that children are insatiably curious. After awhile, we'd stay up a bit later and make a bit more noise just to test when the "big stick" threat would rear its implausible head. And finally, we demanded to actually see the big stick. Foolishly, Mom decided she'd better come up with something, so we were led to a closet where were shown a rather pathetic-looking yardstick. "That doesn't look very big," we mused. Realizing that the threat had turned into a fun game, for our semi-laid-back domestic enforcers, it was back to mean stares, mock outrage, hushed tones, and moral suasion. (The unfortunate side effect of the Internet is that said ogres will be reading this post inside of one day, even though they're enjoying winter on the other side of the planet. Look, Ma, I'm airing our squeaky-clean laundry in public!)
Well, purveyors of deceptive online content, and index spammers, aren't children. They're members of an economic game that affects millions of businesses. The future social development of hard-core cloakers isn't something that keeps me awake nights. Fair rules that apply to all are much more important than spammers' sensibilities. Are you a big company that got "duped" by your "deceptive" SEO firm? Shame on you, then. SEO has been around for ten years, and it's time you did your due diligence.
So if Google's going to pull out the big stick on big brand name companies who engage in garden-variety spam techniques, then I say, make it a really big mofo'in club, like the ones you used to see in the Flintstones. Ban them for a year. Take that, you wascals. Right now, the message being sent is relatively benign. You'll get de-indexed, but if you grovel, you'll be back, and oh, by the way, as we've been saying ever since Florida, wouldja buy a few AdWords from us you cheapsakes?
The message to those who recommend riskier techniques is (for now), clear enough: here's the worst that can happen. The worst that can happen -- if you're a prominent firm with good grovel techniques anyway -- is a temporary slap on the wrist. For those who have more reason to go "gray" or "black hat"... the message couldn't be clearer: spam on. Google could be a lot more draconian.
In case you missed it: the news coverage claims BMW.de got the "death penalty" from Google. In fact they'll probably get out of the clink soon, with time off for good behavior. Or as the Flintstones theme put it: "that cat will stay out for the night."
This wacky "Google is being Orwellian" post gets a good rejoinder from Danny, if you scroll down the page. Along with Danny, I see no reason at all to consider a search engine out of bounds for strict censures against optimization techniques that are clearly deceptive to users. Search engines are built around automation and math, but they are also editorial organizations that have the right to set their own ranking rules based on what they think is best for consumers and fairest to all companies that are vying for rankings.
Imbroglio aside, it doesn't affect my inner debate: will that be a BMW 323i, 325xi, or [used cars used cars used bmw canada britney spears autoblog edmunds car parts comparison bmw] 330xi?
Man, I hate when irrelevant keywords interrupt my dreams.
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