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SEOs: Google is not your friend

Search engine optimisation is an adversarial industry. With ‘adversarial’ I don’t mean that SEOs fight amongst themselves (though some certainly do), but that the business itself is one of conflict. Conflict between search engine optimisers on one side, and search engines on the other.

Many seasoned SEOs will already know this, but many younger and inexperienced search engine optimisers may not fully grasp this particular fact yet: Google is your enemy.

SEO is about making websites perform better in search engine results. At its core, SEO is an attempt at trying to do better than Google. An SEO is basically saying: “how Google has ranked these sites is not correct. Let me fix that.”

Google doesn’t appreciate that. In a perfect Google world, there would be no SEO. Websites would rank because Google – and Google alone – finds them most relevant.

Matt Cutts is the Google employee who most directly and visibly deals with the SEO industry. Through blog posts and comments, webmaster videos, conference appearances and interviews, Matt is spreading the Google gospel among the SEO crowd.

In case you didn’t know, Matt Cutts is the head of Google’s webspam team. Let that sink in for a moment.

The Google guy most involved with the SEO industry is responsible for dealing with spam in Google’s web search. That right there tells you all you need to know about how Google perceives SEOs. We’re spammers. We’re evildoers who pollute Google’s immaculate search results with our vile schemes and devious tactics. Google sees us as its enemy.

And in many ways we are. SEOs believe websites need to be optimised to show up for keywords that are relevant to it. Google thinks it is perfectly capable itself to determine which website should show up for which keyword. It’s a continuous struggle, a tit-for-tat that won’t end until search engines themselves cease to exist.

(The engineering discipline that concerns itself with fighting spam in search engines is called AIR – Adversarial Information Retrieval, which explains the adversarial nature of the SEO business.)

But, you say, what about all the help Google is giving to SEOs? Their documentation, their videos, their blog posts? They must like us, they’re actually helping SEOs!

No, they’re not. What Google is trying to do through their ‘support’ – be they Matt Cutts’ webmaster videos, the SEO Starter Guide, or anything else – is trying to make SEOs build spam-free websites.

Google has realised it can’t kill SEO, so it’s decided to try and convert the industry instead. Google is trying to ‘educate’ SEOs in the error of their ways and convert them to the Gospel of Google. Basically, Google wants SEOs to do the hard work for them – delivering websites that are easily crawlable and spam-free so that Google can more easily decide which is the most relevant result.

And it’s working. Whole swaths of the SEO industry listen to Cutts’ every word, strictly adhere to every Google guideline ever published, and try their very best never to offend Google. These SEOs are trying to be Google’s friend.

Hey, guess what? Google is not your friend. Google is your enemy. No matter how nice you try to be in your SEO practices, how strictly you adhere to the big G’s guidelines, Google will always see you as the enemy. To them you are vermin. You’re a blight on the purity of the world wide web. If Google had its way, SEOs would be eradicated from the internet.

So don’t for one second think that Google is your friend. It’s not. Google hates SEOs. No matter how affable Matt Cutts is – and he seems like a genuinely nice and smart guy – he is not your friend. His role within Google is to make you obsolete.

Real SEOs aren’t chummy with Google. Real SEOs aren’t invited to the Googleplex for coffee. Real SEOs don’t make cameos in Cutts’ webmaster videos. Google is too scared that somehow it’ll inadvertently reveal something which a real SEO could abuse.

Don’t let the friendly façade fool you. If you engage in SEO, Google really doesn’t like you. Don’t ever lose sight of that.

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