Google is trying hard to salvage its reputation after one of its employees, Jonathan Rockway, got the company into some unwanted controversy by posting two controversial comments on Hacker News.
The first comment by Mr Rockway was:
Instead of being able to SEO the entire Internet, businesses can now only affect the search results for a tiny percentage of users. That’s a good thing because SEO can’t scale, and SEO isn’t good for users or the Internet at large.
This statement is a direct contradiction of what Google has maintained over the years, that they do not consider SEOs to be spam.
If you remember Matt Cutts released a detailed video last October that explained the reason why Google does not consider SEO to be spam. Obviously Mr. Rockway forgot about this video and his comments sure have created a lot of confusion among webmasters.
The second worrying comment by Mr. Rockway directly indicated that if you want to rank well on Google you will have to buy ads:
If you look at the Google experience from the standpoint of customers, it’s pretty good. Users get relevant search results and ads. Advertisers get their content on top of everything else. It’s a good compromise between advertising and usability, and it works really well. It’s a bug that you could rank highly in Google without buying ads, and Google is trying to fix the bug.
Although Rockway made a corrective statement three days after his initial comments it only cleared the air about Google ads, but the SEO issue was still under the scanner.
In his corrective statement Rockway said:
I shouldn’t have mentioned ads here. Position on the results page should only depend on the quality of your content; if your site has the best content on the Internet for the user’s search terms, you should be the top result. You shouldn’t be able to change your position in the organic results any other way, like by exploiting bugs in Google’s ranking algorithm. The specifics of the ranking algorithm may change, but if your site is the best, you won’t have to worry about it.
This is when Google came forward and released a statement to clear all speculations about its services.
As always, Google search rankings are completely unrelated to Google’s paid advertising services and other partnerships, and there is absolutely no way for a webmaster to pay money to increase search rankings.
When it comes to SEO, many owners of high-quality sites can and do get their site listed well in Google’s search results without any outside help. Some site owners prefer to have someone else check and optimize their sites, and for these folks we’ve published some guidelines relating to evaluating SEO companies.
Google also cleared their stance on Mr. Rockway by saying that he is a new employee, hinting that he is not fully acquainted with how Google works. My guess is he will be told to get up to speed with Google practices pretty soon or will be shown the door.
On a lighter note, it is good to see more Googlers communicating, instead of the usual posts from Matt Cutts. They just needs to make sure they actually know what they’re talking about.