Is Organic Search Dead or Dying Because of Negative SEO?

So, I received emails from both “Oz” and Jon Leger today warning about the new cottage industry of “Negative SEO”. This is on the tail of the recent Matt Cutts announcement of a new algorithm update to weed out “webspam” that he claims will affect only 3% of searches. But, that isn’t really the issue. The issue is that the company who’s motto claims “do no evil” is allowing evil to be done because of prior updates.

Bad Link. Bad, Bad, Bad

A couple months ago, Google start de-indexing links from the spam blogs. At that time they claimed that this would do nothing more than lower the rankings of sites that were building their back-links mostly from the spam blogs. “Unnatural linking” was the term. What was emphasized was that “good” sites would not be “penalized” because of this change.

Well, if that’s the case, then why are ads like this cropping up?


The article at SEOBook from which this picture was copied then goes on the tell the story of one Dan Thies who tweeted to Matt Cutts his approval for the “splog” de-indexing. Almost immediately, Dan’s stire was targeted by some Blackhat hacks who virtually destroyed Dan’s rankings by submitting his site to a de-indexed blog network. He got the now infamous “unnatural links” message, and his site suddenly plummeted in Google’s index. So, how in the world is that not penalizing unnatural linking?

“Do no evil”, indeed.

Oz thinks that Google is allowing this to happen now because it will eventually force everyone back into the AdWords system. Organic Search could become so randomized and unpredictable that you will have to turn to paid advertising as your only certain method for getting on page one.

To quote Oz

I think this is bad news for everybody including Google,
This is a sneaky move by Google to get people to give
up on SEO, and rely more on Google Adwords.
Hmm… I wouldn’t put it past them.  🙁

Although an interesting theory, I’m not sure if that is the real goal here. Intentionally destroying organic search seems even too underhanded for Google. As a programmer, I’m more inclined to assume one of Google’s whiz kids came up with a plan to find and de-index the splogs, but did not consider the responses that might follow from the BlackHatters and spammers. (Techies are like that). The bigwigs at Google (Matt Cutts?) thought it would be a great way to reduce spam and level the playing field, and fulfill their promise of a content driven internet. They approved the plan.

In other words, I think Google leaped before they looked. It happens.

Spam Wars

So, are we now going to see companies fighting “spam wars”? Will your position in the organic search index be defined by how few spammy  back-links you have, rather than how many relevant back-links you have? Is this move going to turn the internet on its ear for awhile?

You know the BlackHatters are going to try to make millions on this. I’m expecting several new “pro-spam” services to crop up soon, and the noteriety they will get. Wow.

Where’d It Go?

On Jon Leger’s forum there is a raging discussion going on about the recent Google update mentioned in the first paragraph. ( The gist of his opening post is that everything is completely out of whack post-Google-update. Several key phrases that he regularly tracks (“Make Money Online”, “NewShoes”, “Bicycle Wheels”) are producing results in Google that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. One of the top results for “Make Money Online” is a blank Blogger blog!

Jon goes on to say that linking directories still seem to be working, the LSI (latent semantic index) dial has apparently been turned up and is causing mis-matched queries, older less-SEO’d sites are gaining ground – but providing less targeted results, and many sites that relied on splogs haven’t been hurt (at all!).

The forum thread is quite active with many posts about very wild results – some good, some not so good. Many are reporting results for searches like we used to see a couple years ago – a “hit” on a keyword on a page that had no real relevance to the search.  Back then, I recall doing searches for specific WordPress theme names and winding up at a page that had the theme name listed, but the site did not actually offer the theme. A bit of a bait-and-switch technique. Are we back to that now?

Actually, this reminds me of one of the updates last summer. For awhile, some of my lower quality sites were getting wonderful positions, and for 3-4 days my Adsense income went through the roof. But, as the search results re-sorted themselves over time, that income went away (but was replaced with income from higher quality sites). I fully expect to see that occur again, but who knows how long it will take…

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