This is a hard-to-believe story of (100% proven) large scale power abuse by Google. But maybe the damage was not in vain, because in our desperation an idea was born, an idea that everyone at Google right up to Larry Page and Sergey Brin will find disturbing.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the industry, that makes websites rank in Google. This industry contributes to the development of the Internet, involves a lot of very smart and creative people (mostly self-taught) and stabilizes Google rankings. Although SEO experts are often seen as mystical hackers, they are usually not developers, but experts on the Internet itself, that know a bit of everything and have an amazing awareness of how the web functions in general (both technically and economically), something most end users don’t have a clue about.
SEO experts make websites better and easier for Google to crawl and help site owners create good content. You think Google should love them? Actually, they don’t.
Google hates SEO-s for two reasons, a real one, and a fake one. Of course Google is trying to get everyone to believe the fake one is the real one.
The fake reason is links between websites (backlinks). Since they are the core of Google’s algorithm and the notorious Pagerank, their artificial generation is very lucrative for SEO-s. Google will officially tell you they hate, dismiss and even penalize artificial (paid) links. But actually technical analysis overwhelmingly shows, that Google takes paid links into consideration and intentionally doesn’t ban marketplaces, where millions of links are being bought and sold every day. And most of all the link seller often gets slapped with a penalty, while the buyer, who actually was the one trying to manipulate Google rankings, is unharmed. So Google actually relies on paid links (they indicate the website with more budget, that statistically more often that not will offer a better service). But the search giant will never admit this. Because they cannot admit what the REAL reason for hating SEO is.
The real reason is economic. Organic clicks in Google due to SEO-s and clicks on Google pay-per-click Adwords ads in search share the same big pie. The less money clients pay for SEO, the more they will have left to spend on Adwords (which usually brings bad ROI, because it’s overrated, and SEO is underrated, thanks to Google PR efforts). So Google has a $15 billion/year reason to hate SEO in the guts. In the end everything comes to profits and corporate greed – a story we are seeing all the time in other industries. The special thing about the evil geniuses at Google (who have a “Don’t be evil” slogan by no accident) is how they have managed to maintain a good reputation while robbing the small businesses of the world from their position of search and advertising monopoly.
Google is also clearly including in their algorithm a lot of random elements, so SEO-s lose all clue what is going on. The final goal is to make organic results so unstable for commercial websites, that unless you have nerves of steel, you will do Adwords ads only, feeding Google with more billions of $. This has been proven already. They also apply “divide and conquer” very successfully among the SEO community by introducing the following madness:
- Negative backlink factors (that allow me to link to your website in a harmful way, the so called “Negative SEO”).
- Disavow Tool (a very slow tool, that rarely works) for fighting Negative SEO (that exists only by the will of Google).
- Report options for all negative, positive or whatever SEO, so that we all turn into snitches. The Disavow Tool is also a report tool in disguise, so when we try to get our own shit fixed, we trash other websites.
So the SEO community is cracking under pressure and mostly the hardliners (Black hat SEO-s, the guys that don’t trust the shit Google is feeding them) are still fully aware of what’s going on.
But we SEO-s all have a huge problem – we are fighting a hopeless in the long term battle on enemy (Google) territory. But the truth is our battle is not hopeless. We just need a big change of plans and start an offensive in the right way.
Today I will tell you my story and how I think we can decrease and balance Google’s power for good. Despite the economic war Google is waging against SEO and small business, we can stand our ground. Despite their overwhelming monopoly over web search and advertising, there is a way out and it’s not a hard one to follow. We have no choice, but to fight back – not only for ourselves, but to help countless virtually helpless small business owners, that are looking at their website visits, shattered by penalties, wondering if it’s worth starting over.
Google has lost the key factor to success. They lost the trust of the only people who know how the Internet economy and Google itself work. I believe 10 years from now history will look back upon Google and conclude their arrogance, lack of two-way communication and zero transparency were the main reasons for their downfall.
Several days ago our small SEO freelancer team received a final blow from Google. After years of slowly increasing bullying, they decided to destroy our websites and manually removed from their search index most of what we have for being “pure spam”. We lost everything.
Google probably tracked them by personal whois data. They went our of their way to manually fight and destroy a small freelancer team in a country where the medium net salary is about $400. This is so “nice” from a corporation with $50 billion of yearly revenues. Three of the people in our team are living in rural areas of Bulgaria, where they are almost no jobs available and they all have to support families.
My team has been working in SEO for the last 5 years. Profit is not everything for us. We are trying to do cool stuff, in the rare times we can afford it we donate to charity, we have helped NGOs improve their websites and we try to give society a fair share of our knowledge and skills. We have redirected our strongest domain to this wonderful video http://vimeo.com/36789712, instead of profiting from it.
But the Google manual actions team has done everything in their power do destroy us. For we have committed the worst crime ever – we… sell backlinks. Of course this does not break a single law of the real world, nor does it do any harm whatsoever, but Google, who sell A LOT of ads themselves, some very annoying (like Youtube pre-rolls), have decided, that whoever sells these non-obstructive SEO targeted ads has to be manually penalized. But remember, this is the fake reason, Google in a way relies on paid links. There are tons of people selling backlinks with no consequences in the marketplaces I mentioned and everywhere.
We were not that lucky…
The Google manual actions team has investigated manually (must have been hard, involved digging personal data from whois records) all of our websites (about 1000), has banned almost all of them, including websites with no links, (that have never ever had links), that in no way are against Google guidelines. They even gave a non-existing (redirected) website a penalty! Google also refuse to remove the penalties on websites, that have no sold backlinks and have some unique meaningful content 100% covering Google webmaster guidelines. Obviously if you once made the huge sin of selling backlinks, in such way possibly taking away Adwords money, you are banned forever. Or you just have your reconsideration request denied because you’re… well, you
I’m sure the European Commission and other authorities will be thrilled with the idea, that according to Google the websites of some people do not deserve a place in the search index, because Google doesn’t like the people, although the websites are fine. How fantastic is that for a policy Focus on website quality, Google says. Really!?!?
Here are some of the websites that Google still thinks are “pure spam”. The first three are centered around hand-picked videos of the highest quality about very important world problems. There were also more about education, relationships, global health issues…
Poverty? Google doesn’t care…
Ecology? Google doesn’t care…
Really serious issues about girls and women? Not important enough for Google
Come on Google, not even actual missing children are good enough for you?
Google also filters hand-picked criticism links, smells like outright censorship
But of course Google has to be right about something? They are right about one thing, the one and only fair decision of their editors. Ever. Here it is:
Ha! Google editors think a complete list of videos by Matt Cutts (The Google Search PR) is spam Couldn’t agree more, they are like the SEO Fox News Channel - it’s easier to find water in the desert, than helpful information in them. Please don’t watch them, ever.
So Google either doesn’t give a shit about Nature, Women, Girls, Relationships, Education, Pollution and Poverty… or this is much too personal against my team. More personal than the European law does allow in my opinion, considering Google is a complete monopoly in search.
I’ll spare you all the technical stuff, to put it short, we have tons of direct non-overlapping evidence, that Google is waging a war on us, breaking even its own guidelines. If you think that’s wrong, you can share this – before or after you read on how we fight back.
We tried to reach them and solve it like civilized people, but they did not answer. No problem can be solved when you ignore it and avoid all communication. This is a dictatorship, that has no place in the 21st century.
My team spent months in sending over 8000 official reconsideration requests to Google, and they were all denied, in violation of Google’s own Webmaster guidelines.
We have no question that this is a personal war against our team with the goal of draining us financially and emotionally. Google wants us to give up.
Will we give up? NO.
Unfortunately Google, you just made a very big mistake. You just gave a team of smart, creative and stubborn people the motivation of their lives. We are the now the cornered tiger, that will fight to the very end or until the enemy runs away for good.
We no longer have a job, because almost every website we own is penalized. So Google, we decided that because you hit our profits, we will hit yours, all while making the world a better place.
See, Google, you broke a golden business principle, that is taught in business class for dummies – diversify your income. Almost all of your profits come from Adwords, so it was pretty easy to think of a way to hit you where it hurts. Let me introduce you to Ad filtering - a great concept in a world where annoying ads are crawling all over the place while Youtube wants to make us see unwanted pre-roll ads. And if you say they are targeted – not only they are not, buy how could you let the worst musical performers in Bulgaria buy so much pre-rolls… they make my years hurt Ah, yes, I forgot – MONEY. Only Ad filtering removes even pre-rolls so we can make your MONEY become LESS MONEY, while of course we are doing the world a favor, by saving people: website loading time, energy, CPU load, bandwidth, all while improving user experience. My personal favorites are uBlock for Chrome, Safari and Firefox, they don’t download the ads at all – this also greatly improves privacy by not downloading some questionable cookies. Just compare:
Without uBlock – What a mess and which Download button should I click!?
The same website with uBlock on – any better? The Download buttons decreased like ten times!
I bet guys trading Google stocks would love to see a team of dedicated top-notch SEO and online advertising professionals working day and night to decrease Google profits by telling the whole world how great Ad filtering browser plugins are. Nothing spells a better future for a company than this message, right? By the way did I mention, that we will inspire a lot of other webmasters and small business owners Google crushed with penalties to join the party and promote Ad filtering too What if it becomes viral and starts an avalanche? For every percent of global market share growth for Ad filtering browser plugins, you Google will lose in the long run more than $ 2 billion (yes, billion with a “b”).
I think just with the guys in my team, we can achieve this Ad filtering 1% growth in an year, but with the help of all SEO-s around the world… this is where even Matt Cutts will get the shivers, not to mention Google shareholders.
We came up with a name for the process, we call it “crowd defunding” – the media will love it, also makes a great hashtag #CrowdDefunding - useful whenever a lot of people decide to take corporate money back
Google, you are now at the mercy of webmasters and SEO-s, and if they treat you like you have treated them in the last 2 years… God help you.
And to make you even happier Google, I will track our progress right here on karakehayov.com and every day I will update you with how much we have managed to rid you of unnecessary future profits, that will go instead to free clicks in organic search, thus supporting struggling local businesses and the SEO community you are trying to destroy. Turning us SEO-s on one another by introducing reports and disavow tool and making negative SEO an option HAS NOT worked. Today we stand united and the message you’re reading is a call for the community to fight back. I hope you all share it until more Webmasters/SEO-s have seen it than any Matt Cutts video!
If you ever got hit by Google – join the party, share the message and/or hit them where it hurts - promote Ad filtering with plugins, that filter Adwords in Search BY DEFAULT (Sorry, Google. That’s for being evil) like uBlock for Chrome, Safari and Firefox. If you haven’t got hit yet you still better join because:
- If you own a website, they will hit you anyway somehow. If you don’t believe this, try accessing your Google keyword data;
- Google monopoly is not only bad for the Internet and the privacy of users like you, it’s even worse for small businesses. I know a lot of people who give so much money for Adwords, that they make nothing in the end. Google is much like Walmart – a huge black hole sucking money out of small businesses and local economies. Wonder what happens with that money?
- They are very rich, but they use tax evading loopholes. I think that’s a shame. Enough with the “Google cares about the world” myth. Sadly, profits are everything.
- Google collects a lot of money, more than they can reinvest. If the money go to other (smaller) companies, they will spend it, boost the struggling economy and create jobs; And it’s not breadcrumbs we are talking about, it’s billions of $.
- Lets not even start the privacy discussion…
We share the same world, so lets do what’s best for us people, the economy and not the huge and increasingly greedy corporation that tested 41 different shades of blue to find out what makes you click on their paid ads the most.
Sadly for you Google, actually a world with less Adwords ads will be a little better for end users, much better for SEO-s, much better for small businesses and much better for the economy in general. No one will care for your loss, even if it is billions of $.
Here are some thoughts on promoting Ad filtering for Google to consider:
- Ad filtering improves user experience and privacy and reduces web page loading time, CPU load and bandwidth. It also saves energy and is eco-friendly. It’s free and takes 5 seconds to install on a browser. It’s the best product ever :)
- When you have such a great product like uBlock every user you get brings you a lot more by word of mouth. So your losses Google, will multiply in time.
- Ad filtering browser plugins tend to be addictive. It’s like the beautiful feeling of migrating from Internet Explorer to a real browser – you know you’re not changing back. Ever. Seeing your favorite websites crumbling with annoying ads after a few months with Ad filtering is a shock and the plugin is installed again in a matter of seconds. So your losses Google, will add up in time forever.
- I bet a lot of people are looking for a way to remove the annoying Youtube pre-rolls. We will tell them how easy it is to get rid of them. Permanently.
- We will strive to include Ad filtering plugins in every free software package out there.
- We will team up with governments and NGOs and explain to the cybercrime authorities, that some ads in general are not safe especially for children and inexperienced users. Better install Ad filtering by default in all public institutions. In fact if Ad filtering were more popular, a lot of scams would be harder to execute. No more “Win iPhone” scams for your grandmother to fall for. And no more fake Download buttons
- We will suggest Ad filtering to be included in the IT classes of every school and university in the world. Most people don’t use it just because they don’t know it exists, that can be changed and will be changed.
- I have a strange feeling this website will get a lot of world media attention, driving direct attention to Ad filtering.
- We will use all the standard stuff – SEO, Facebook marketing, other social media, articles here and there and everywhere, press releases… the full package.
If you read this far you are my personal hero and I’m grateful to the bottom of my Google-broken heart. If you share this, we have a chance to make this uneven fight a more just one. Totally up to you though
If we reach the critical mass, maybe we can convince Google to open up a dialogue and eventually improve the system of penalties and reconsideration, instead of leaving us to bang our heads with automated answers or none whatsoever. And most of all we need a system, where they will have to act in a responsible way even for a problem on the small website of a crumbling small business, that has no choice but to be at Google’s mercy about making ends meet.
Although we are now broke, an achievement this big will mean the world to us. It’s up to you Also I would love it if you show support (or criticism of course) in the comments.
Kalin Karakehayov, head of a small Bulgarian SEO team of freelancers.
You can find me at:
https://twitter.com/Karakehayov Follow @Karakehayov
firstname.lastname@example.org (both contact email and Paypal email - in the unlikely case you want to donate for our cause - but really better donate to improve the lives of sick or starving kids, than to us. If you do anyway, 100% of your money will be used for spreading this message or promoting Ad filtering – you can tell us your preference between the two in the Paypal note).
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#SEO #Webmaster #Google #CrowdDefunding