One client recently asked, “To what degree these days does Google attempt to make it difficult for SEO specialists to do their work?”

My response:

I don’t believe Google does anything to make it difficult for White Hat SEO specialists like me (those who choose to follow Google’s recommendations).

However, they make it very difficult for SEO specialists who use “Black Hat” techniques – those who look for ways to get lots of traffic quickly even if it isn’t the right traffic, those who are looking for short term gains through temporary loopholes rather than long term growth for their clients, and those who want to “automate” all the processes involved in securing high rankings.

I’m one of those who believe you can’t automate the key process of developing good content (text and photos) for a website. You must take the time to get to know the business, to know what makes them unique, and best in their niche. You must become part of their “marketing team” and work hard to get into the head of their ideal customer and staff.

Google has a large team of programmers let by Matt Cutts that is ever in process of creating new algorithms to filter out those websites that are utilizing strategies that violate Google’s Webmaster Quality Guidelines. Note: These guidelines have been the same for years and so there really is no excuse for SEO specialists. They can’t say they didn’t know. You can’t trick Google and you don’t want to do so.

I recently helped one client get a refund from a major SEO company because this company used a strategy that was specifically stated as a violation in the quality guidelines. Employment of the strategy caused the business to have the worst level of web traffic and even sales in 35 years. Their SEO company literally tanked the website in the search results and they tried to say they didn’t know it was wrong. They used the fact that Google didn’t catch up to them for several months as evidence. In a meeting with them and the client we pulled out Google’s quality guidelines and other Google public documentation and they knew the game was up. They allowed the client to cancel service and are in process of negotiating the refund.

Over the years our clients have outperformed their competition in search rankings and new sales from online marketing because we’ve helped prevent them from doing spammy things – the things that Google spells out in the quality guidelines. While there have been short episodes during which our clients’ competitors were securing more high rankings and more traffic search by using spammy strategies such as keyword stuffing or getting lots of links from questionable websites, over the long haul this has caused the competitors to have to let go of their domain names and rebuild with new domain names.

Once the reputation of a domain name has been damaged it takes a human at Google to remove the penalty and Google won’t do that unless you humbly admit you’ve made a mistake, you call out the specific details of the violation, you provide evidence that you’ve remedied the violation and you promise never to let it happen again. And even then Google is under no obligation to even to tell the business that their website has been penalized or to lift the penalty.

We’ve had several clients come to us after another SEO company has done something spammy and caused their website to be penalized. We are happy that to date we have been successful in getting penalties removed for these clients’ websites. These clients then go on to become some of our best clients because they have learned the value of following quality guidelines and they support our efforts to do so.

While I know that Google is in the search business to make money, I believe that their quality guidelines are in the best interest of the web visitor and of businesses that market through the web. While other SEO experts may call me overly optimistic and naïve, I can point to over 13 years in the industry though which my adherence to quality guidelines (not just Google’s but Google’s predecessors as well) has benefited my clients and my small business. I love the quote from Letters from Iwo Jima, “Do what is right because it is right.” Even when I’m pressured to follow the latest loophole I stand firm and ask my clients to wait out the latest Black Hat strategy. And I’m terribly proud of the success of those clients that have done this time and time again and have survived downturns in the economy and the short term loss in rankings that they have experienced when competitors temporarily were leading in search due to Black Hat SEO strategies.

We love seeing that over the long haul our clients are getting the right results for consistently doing the right thing. It’s rewarding to see that the “good guys do win”!

If you want to learn more, contact Elizabeth at elizabeth@4cesi.com