Awesome discussion on Aaron Wall’s post, Yes, Negative SEO Techniques Do Work on Google, between Aaron, Danny Sullivan and a bunch of experienced SEOs who are not crazy about the collateral damage of the Penguin Update. The parts about small businesses and SEO ring particularly true, from both sides of the debate:
there’s never any mention of small to medium businesses and other vulnerable sites in regards to negative SEO. There’s a bizarre assumption that all sites are “pundit” sites and all we have to do is keep blogging away writing “remarkable content”. What about the small business that has a fantastic product or service but maybe their area of business isn’t going to win them links so easily? They’re caught between a rock and a hard place – they have to go near those margins you mention Aaron – just to get off the ground. I’m sure Rand or someone similar would condascend to suggest they create some cheesy viral video or whatnot to bait links, but really come on – asking companies to jump through arbitrary hoops (even you might say, prostitute themselves) just because Google’s algorithm can’t identify quality businesses is a ridiculous game that’s gone on too long now – in fact, it’s a deception.
now it is super easy to torch small businesses *super easy* and they have no way to legitimately defend themselves. Compare that to Google’s approach when the NYT highlighted massive link buying from big businesses.In one case Google says they detected it and discounted it & in the other Google claims to detect it and penalizes for it.
this change means the smallest and poorest businesses have been hit with the latest updates because they could only afford this kind of marketing – I’m talking real businesses here that offer good services and products, but they were hit because they can’t afford the hours in the day to write “remarkable content” and become some kind of austere authority, nor do I think their websites even warrant such arbitrary means-to-a-ranking content writing when it’s their product or service that their market is interested in, not a bloated brochure. Now Google deem such businesses as “webspam”, and I guess you do too. Does it not concern you that the smallest and poorest get hit the hardest with these updates, and that every update ushers in more passes to big business?
no one — I’m sorry but no one — can say that “the large majority of small and medium businesses relied on cheap links.” There are literally millions of small and medium sized businesses out there. Do you think that most of those are doing any SEO at all? Whenever I see stats, there’s still a long way to go for that adoption.
I think it’s fair to say there’s a substantial number of SMBs that one way or another thrived on poor links. Cheap implies some were bought. It’s been no secret Google doesn’t like paid links. The fact it’s now cracking down on them, what’s your solution? That should be reversed? Perhaps an amnesty? And the SMBs that didn’t go that route now perhaps being rewarded. They get punished?..
How you approach SEO will vary. There’s no one size fits all solution. I do see plenty of SMBs thriving and surviving in my search results each day. So the question is, if you were hit, what do you do to be one of those.