Dear Google, I’m a fanboy. I admit it. A skeptical fanboy, but a fanboy nonetheless. You’ve got some smart cookies over there. So why do you let so many sites get away with murder?
I spend all my time with clients counseling good practices, link growth through great content, focus on quality not quantity, blah blah blah. I’m like Matt Cutts’ Mini Me. Then you let someone with a pile of spammy links and a site that looks like it was optimized in 2000 climb to #1.
No problem, I tell the client. They’ll get theirs. Google will catch up with them. And a month passes. Two months. Three… Nothing. Nada. So, guys, throw me some love? It’s kind of, you know, embarrassing.
Here are some random examples that make me question my faith in you, justice and liberty for all data. You don’t need to slam ’em. Just explain to me how they got where they are, and why they aren’t getting slapped around:
Example 1: Mahalo
Aaron Wall’s pointed it out. Danny Sullivan tied Matt Cutts up in knots with it at SMX in 2008. Mahalo shows an endless list of ads and scraped search results with zero added value if you search on, say ‘bicycle racing‘. If you search for a more popular topic – say, ‘facebook login‘ – you get a page that talks about everything Facebook except logins. Mahalo changed the article title, page title tag and a few other headings on the page to optimize for ‘Facebook login’.
It’s like slapping a Porsche sticker on a Pinto and hoping you get away with it. Of course, Mahalo does. So, Google, if your number 1 priority is relevance and happy users, why would you ever rank this site? For anything? More to the point: If I built a site that used these kinds of strategies, you’d ban me so fast the universe would forget I ever existed. Moving on…
Example 2: Vitamin C Foundation
A ‘foundation’ web site that’s a unique non-profit, insofar as they’re dedicated to selling you their unique Vitamin C formula. They rank #4 for ‘Vitamin C’ on Google. There’s spam, and then there’s fraud. This web site skirts the far edge of both, suggesting, without actually saying, that:
- Vitamin C will fight cancer and shrink tumors.
- Vitamin C prevents diabetes.
- Vitamin C prevents some ailments in smokers.
Then they link to PRNewswire press releases as their medical evidence. I didn’t even look at their link profile or site setup. I’m not even going to give a nofollow link to their all-bold-text web site.
How the hell did you give this site a top 5 ranking, beating sites like WebMD and Ohio State?! Quality content, my ass. Next…
Example 3: Search for ‘speed up my computer’
I dare ya. The top 10 is stuffed with sites that use forum spam, comment spam and articles scraped/plagiarized from each other. It’s like Peyton Place, only with adware. Many of them contain ambiguous conditions, like the ‘free download’ that ends up being a ‘one time payment’ that turns out to be a subscription. Some of them have 23 pages of complaints against them, too.
Lousy link profiles. Lousy onsite SEO. Duplicate content. And tons of complaints. Soooooo, you’re ranking them top 10 because… Yeah. I dunno either.
I’m not asking for perfection
I know there are a lot of web sites out there. I know most of them are utter crap. But Google, could you maybe clean up the top 15 or so? Or at least the top 5, so I don’t feel like swallowing my tongue every time I look at the rankings?