With the help of MSN, recently I've been reminiscing about the Google of old.
Remember those days? When you could take a good quality site, add a few
keywords, get a few incoming links and bada-bing, bada-boom, it'd be #1 on
Google? Remember the old days, pre-Florida, pre-sandbox? The days when we, as
search engine optimization specialists, didn't feel like a private schoolgirl smoking
in the bathroom? When we didn't feel like the iron fist would come crashing down at
any moment? Yes, those were the good old days. And MSN has finally brought them
back, though on a much smaller scale.
Google hit it right on the nose back then. Search results were almost never
irrelevant - venturing to the second page of results was an event that drew gasps.
There was never, ever any reason to leave Google and search for the same query on
another search engine. Satisfied users the world over, it was the search engine of
choice almost everywhere searches were conducted. I myself never strayed from
Google, I was loyal and I was rewarded for my loyalty with consistently relevant
But has Google taken their quest for perfection a few steps too far? Case in point:
http://www.jimmylerner.com - this web site is the official site of an author. Search
on MSN for his name, "jimmy lerner" and his web site is the top result. Now, try the
same search on Google. The top results are pages devoted to reviewing his book,
book stores selling his book, a press release I sent out to announce his new site and
a few times I've even seen sites show up in the top ten that simply have a link to his
site from theirs and are completely unrelated. His site has been jumping from the
second page to the first and back again.
This begs the question, optimization or no optimization, what, exactly, is the
problem with a quality, informative web site reaching number one for a search query
that is probably conducted specifically to find that exact site? Has the focus and aim
of Google changed from offering relevancy to satisfied searchers to simply impeding
the progress of SEOs? Is Google's main concern now, to stop individuals from
helping a site reach number one? It can seem that way, can't it? And I can only say
one thing about it. Bad move, Google.
I've heard a few people say that it's just a transition period. That all web sites are in
the same boat, everyone's waiting to see the fruits of their optimization labour.
Perhaps this is true, and perhaps over the next little while we will see changes at
Google that make our jaws drop, impressed at the level of perfection we never
thought possible. But I think maybe Google needs to re-focus their energies. Take
the focus back to the user, not the SEOs. Get back to the near-impeccable relevancy
level before I start using MSN to learn about all my favorite authors.
Courtney Heard is the founder of Abalone
Designs, a search engine optimization company in Vancouver, Canada. She has
been involved in web development and marketing since 1995 and has helped start
several businesses since then in the Vancouver area. More of Courtney's articles are
available at http://www.abalone.ca/resources/