There has been a ton of noise in the last few weeks in search industry outlets, tech blogs and mainstream media about ‘Search Engine Spam’ harming Google’s credibility as a pure search engine and its results becoming a so-called ‘marketing jungle.’ While there’s no question that the sophistication of web spammers has created new challenges, we don’t see some sort of ending for traditional search. On the contrary, if you look at all the changes that Google has rolled out recently, it is clear that its search engine is still innovating and aggressively cracking down on spamming techniques like paid links, cloaking, and auto-content generation. At BrightEdge, we’re committed to growing our SEO platform alongside search engines’ priorities to assure that SEO practitioners always have access to the best, most actionable data to improve SEO in a 100% Google-friendly way white hat. This week our CEO Jim Yu had the opportunity to comment on these issues over at Adotas. You can check out the full story here and or look below for highlights from the interview.
How could Google better approach the plethora of spam and lackluster content gumming up the web (i.e., cut through the crap)? One of the most interesting ways the internet is fundamentally shifting is that the signals that search engines relied on to evaluate content have totally changed. It used to be that people would link to your content if they thought it was interesting. At a simplified level, this was one of Google’s greatest innovations: to use reference as a barometer for relevance. But now, more than a decade later, there is a world of ways to game this system. Paid links, cloaking and auto-content generation have become more common, sophisticated and difficult to detect. Another example of how things have changed is in using age as a signal. It used to be that older content that had lots of links was a sign of relevance. Now with real-time social, it can be – but not consistently - be the opposite. So search engines are posed with the problem of blending in recency and popularity and balancing them in the greater framework. So if you’re Google, how do you make sense of and blend in all these new signals and practices as the old ones decline? It’s still early days in figuring out how traditional search blends with social search, but clearly these factors are going to bring a lot of innovation. How have SEO practitioners had to adjust in facing this same foe (i.e., crap content and spam)? What the advent of search engine spam really shows is that SEO is crucial to business goals and needs to be managed, funded and evaluated in a systematic way – just like any other element of a company’s marketing mix. Search engines are an exploitable opportunity for spammers today because there is a huge disparity in SEO expertise. Really what we’re seeing is a race between companies whose core competencies are selling things versus companies whose core competency is doing SEO to siphon off users. For many of the former, SEO has not traditionally been elevated in their marketing mix in a sophisticated, well-funded way. It’s been a nice-to-have back office function, but not a source of competitive advantage. How can search advertisers take advantage of social searching services? Lines between web, search and social search are blurring. You’re already getting social search results blended into the regular search results. This will continue to converge over time and bring new challenges and opportunities for marketers. Take reputation management, for example. From a search perspective, you want to see what listings are coming up for your brand. But now you need to look beyond search results and see what people are saying on Twitter, Facebook and myriad other sites – and that becomes an integrated part of your online strategy. No longer will you measure share of search. You’ll have to measure your share across all these channels.