Forbes Finds SEO Red Light District

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SEO is a difficult topic for anybody new to the game. It’s proved especially difficult for Forbes, where an article about "Google Hell" had the experts shaking their heads. Not to rag too much on Forbes, the article did present an opportunity for clarification about Google’s supplemental index.

An opportunity so ripe, Google’s Matt Cutts posts at length about, for those who still have questions. With some luck, we’ll get two great posts from Matt this week, as we’re told he plans to blog about Google’s controversial link-buying spam reports before he goes on vacation.

Forbes’ Andy Greenberg wrote an article "Condemned to Google Hell."
"What the heck is Google Hell?" asks Marketing Pilgrim’s Andy Beal, an industry veteran. Greenberg says "Google Hell" is industry jargon for the supplemental index, and Beal admits he missed Jim Boykin’s memo.

Greenberg cites examples of online businesses losing traffic, business, and money after condemnation in the supplemental index:

1. One paid $35,000 to a search-marketing consultant who accidentally duplicated 90 listing pages

2. A consultant (who sank himself in eternal text) credited his own pages dropping due to an algorithmic glitch and not because of his duplicate pages

3. A third is baffled why a reciprocal link campaign dumped him into the sandbox for a month.

Not sandbox, Hell.

Cutts responded at length on his blog, first by referring to an earlier post defending the necessity for the supplemental index.

"It’s easy to read the article and come away with the impression that Google’s supplemental results are some sort of search engine dungeon where bad pages go and sit in limbo forever, and that’s just not true."

Well, Greenberg did kind of use the word "dungeon." Matt has pages of his own in the index and says it has more to do with PageRank than penalties. He then hints that if there’s a sudden drop in rank that sends a page to the supplemental results, then a webmaster might want to check the quality of links.

But the real kicker of Cutts’ response is his examination of an example cited in the article, where a condemned webmaster admits to "grey-area tactics like buying links."

A little digging, and Matt discovered that the webmaster had employed some pretty big no-no’s like keyword spamming and excessive, unrelated reciprocal linking.

"Reciprocal links by themselves aren’t automatically bad," Cutts writes, "but we’ve communicated before that there is such a thing as excessive reciprocal linking."

The moral of the story, then, is keep your white hat on when approaching search marketing. Otherwise, Google’s coming, and Google Hell’s coming with him.

Forbes Finds SEO Red Light District
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  • Clint Dixon

    Google keyword term ‘richest women’

    My site is # 1

    Forbes is # 2

    It’s been this way for over a year now.

    Maybe Forbes needs me as the new CEO….or CMO at the least.


    • Funny Guy

      Wow, your site has a ton of ads on it! You must make $10.00 per month off of it. Good job.

  • bj

    More than one of those articles you pointed at stated that duplicate content could be a cause and that we shouldn’t “steal” content. But that’s not the only way Duplicate Content can end up on a site.

    If your site is script generated, you’ll want to make sure your web ap isn’t putting you into wordpress/2007/05/getting-out-of-google-hell/”>Google Hell.

    • bj

      THIS is the right URL:
      wordpress/2007/05/getting-out-of-google-hell/”>Getting out of Google Hell

  • Webmaster

    It seems to us that those of us who are honestly working hard at our business and using white hat tactics are still losing to the black hatted SEO’s as well as to those affilate companies.

    Case in Point:

    Do a search for Website Hosting, Hosting or Web Hosting. You will notice that almost all the top 20’s are people who are affiliates of other companies…ie website hosting directory and those with dashes between their names.

    They still have 30,000 links pointing into their websites, but they are not penalized, only small companies does the Big G, mess with. It is very difficult to get 200 links more or less 30,000

    I took a look at some of their links, and you can buy them in the Christian Science Monitor for $1000.00 a week. We don’t have that kind of money.

    Tired of wasting my time with Google.


    • Tim

      Google’s created something that’s growing out of containment. This is a great reason why the algorithms just aren’t cutting it, and maybe more manual jobs could help. Even a 10% improvement is an improvement.

    • dataminer

      Try web 2.0


  • Ganesh

    Google and their stupidty of indexing based linking is a total mess makes no sense and I think it is the root cause of all the mess which is happening now. If Google thinks Supplemental Index is correct they should have first purged their own Google groups listing.

    Each website has their own unique nature. Instead of identifying and making algorithm to study that website, Google really attempts to find is some one else find it useful.

    There are 100s of logical ways to make the search index better than what they are doing now and begging to people say certain html syntax keywords to be included in their page.

    Just don’t even listen to what Google people saying.

    I could spend some more money and place a tv media or paper media ad and get people than spending the time in researching what Google has to offer for us.

    Really Internet is not Search Engine, they are just a piece of entity, They will be more evolutions to handle these stupidity.

  • Chris

    I get tired of seeing these articles..

    I run an SEO Firm and I launched a personal web site offering a certain type of hosting. I just bought the domains a month ago, just launched the site a week ago and listed with the search engines two days ago..

    I already have Top 10 positions in Google, Yahoo, Msn and many other search engines.

    Seo’s need to quit blaming search engines because they simply can’t provide the proper service.. Forbe’s will BooHoo about Google, They should BooHoo about the SEO company who did the work.

    • Chris Sandrah

      what’s the URL? let’s see…

    • Bill Chase

      You might want to read the article again. Forbes is not as you say “boo-hooing” about Google. This is meant to be a informative article and if you run a SEO firm then you should be thrilled that an SEO article ended up on the front page of Forbes.com today – it may get you a new client.

  • dataminer

    It’s been a problem for a number of years being refered to as the google tickle,google hiccup,google slap then the google stomp now google hell. I tried to comply and follow the rules but to no avail. As an affiliate marketer I’m fighting mad and have switched to web 2.0 and not looking back!!


    • Jason Lee Miller

      nothing like the ol’ Google slap and tickle



  • Dan

    Another sensational headline too confuse an otherwise non-issue.

    • Jason Lee Miller

      I thought it was a pretty good headline, too. Thanks for mentioning it.

      Thanks, also, for taking the time to comment on the non-issue. Commenting on non-existence is always risky — very heady stuff the masses have trouble with.  Borges would be proud.


  • Dan

    Another sensational headline.

  • Clark Landon

    Why don’t you just use google and leverage on them for your own benefit. Instead of blaming google just because it not work like you want it to be.

    Just follow their rules and rides on them to your benefits. There are many way to rides on the search results pages both on the right and on the left.

    You just need to learn the rope and it would give unfair advantages to you. :=)


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