Forbes Finds SEO Red Light District

    May 1, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

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.