26 June 2011

Why I Hate The Manipulation Of Search

Hands up those who think that Search is ALL of the following:

Consumer Friendly

Right - all you Google Acolytes can put your hands down now.

I thoroughly dislike the manipulation of search. I hate that SEO has become synonymous with all that is dirty and ugly on the web. Back when the web was young and Google was but a glint in someone's eye, we used to worry that because the web was like the Universe - limitless. Therefore making money on the web was going to be hard as you could never own a piece of real estate long enough for it to have any value. Web Homesteading meant any person could put out his shingle and start selling stuff. The downside was that we could hardly find anything. The upside was that this was the purest. It removed the barriers so that the little guy could compete with the big guy. It was going to be the great leveller.

Today - we have the massive gatekeepers like Google (OK so the Googleplex IS the gatekeeper). Which in turn means we have to play games in order to get any presence. And this means we have to resort to - I can think of no other way to express it - but to call it cheating. In order to Optimize your abilities - you have to get on the Hamster Wheel and run that mad just to stay in place.

The different tricks that people get up to are indeed all over the map. And we are spiraling down to more and more extreme forms of cheating.

Let me just put up a few examples:

Unscrupulous SEO advisers, digital agencies and even individual companies some of whom are quite reputable (normally) engage in these practices.

1. Put keywords that include brand names of your competitors. While largely stamped out this practice remains prominent

1. Freelance blog for money commentators who are usually factory farming people writing from home or in low cost countries who mascarade as real bloggers or commentators. These people are trained in techniques that they can use to commentate. They are literally nothing more than robots. ( would hazard a guess that some indeed are machines now). I have been getting quite a few of these appearing on my blogs.

2. Fake people. a 19 year old professional "faker" masquerading as a 35 year old housewife from Stockport replete with fake name, normal sounding email and other persona credentials.

3. Compensation mechanisms which are tied to the latest version of Google's algorithms. (EG Panda v1 and v2).

For a great list and discussion on this topic go to InfoWorld here.

And who is to blame? We all are.

However I think there are ways to do something about it. Firstly the consumer is tired of this and HE/SHE KNOWS YOU ARE CHEATING. So anyone who thinks you can do this and get away with it - you might gain some short term advantage.

For my part - I believe that one of the drivers of Social Media is that the Trust of the peers - are helping to raise the stakes. But now we have "Fake Social" peers who are attempting to become arbiters of this Trust. I have about the average number of "Friends" in Facebook and a larger number of Linked in contacts. I routinely weed people out and only accept people I know personally. However fakers still slip in.

All of us have the responsibility to route out these fakers and cheaters.

So think about this today - go into your Facebook and Linked in Accounts and remove people who are not personally known to you.


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