Google updated their Webmaster Guidelines a few days ago. The changes weren’t massive, but it’s worth looking at what they said regarding building backlinks. Here’s a good example:
[One way to violate the guidelines is to use] Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.
For example: There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress.
Now of course, no one really has a clean definition of “optimized anchor text”, and Google likes it that way, because the more clarity they provide, the easier it is for cheaters to cheat. In their example, it appears that “optimizing” anchor text means “using niche-relevant keywords as your anchor text.”
Unfortunately, of course, using niche-relevant keywords as your anchor text is one of the most significant signals that you can use to tell Google what your website is all about and what it should rank for in the SERPs.
To be more specific, Google clarifies that…
Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site…
That’s right! If you’re creating links with the purpose of making your website rank differently on Google — which, if you haven’t realized it, is probably more than 50% of what the entire SEO industry spends doing all day — you’re violating the guidelines, and you, Mister, are a Black Hat Nogoodnick Feller.
Why does Google want to kill the SEO industry?
The simple answer is economics. Any college student who has glanced at the Warrior Forum can tell you that there are two major ways to get your site ranked #1 on Google: either you use SEO, or you use the program that creates more than half of Google’s annual income stream: AdWords. PPC. Every company that chooses to pay someone like me to get their site ranked on Google didn’t just decide to pay Google directly for a spot on AdWords, and thus took money away from Google.
Google claims to love content — but the truth is that content is, by far, a buyer’s market these days. Millions of people around the world add content to the Web every day. Some of them get paid for it, some do it for fun, but at the end of the day, every piece of content on the Web means more work for Google — sorting, managing, weeding out the crap, categorizing the remainder. The last thing Google wants to do is create incentive for hundreds of thousands of companies to pay to have more half-assed content spilled all over the Internets.
So Google is using the power in its hands — the power to define ‘what works’ and ‘what doesn’t’ — to redefine the playing field, and attempt to define the typical SEOer out of existence. They’re trying to define ‘SEO’ as ‘Producing content of such staggering quality that people link to it of their own accord’.
That’s a losing game. We’ll talk about why — and what you can do about it — on Friday.