The two part article “Reign of Bread and Whip. The New Google Aristocracy” is already long enough. I had more content, which I decided not to include, some (IMO) funny stuff. Here is some of it. It’s off beat and you can skip it, without missing out on something.
I tried to make comparisons to things that non SEO folks would understand to help them to understand the general issue I am pointing out in the article. People outside of search engine marketing also should not have to worry about those things, but the peachy pink happy statement from Googles Webmaster Guidelines “Make pages for users, not for search engines” is as practical as the advice: “Love the person next to you like your brother and don’t make wars“.
It’s still a bit “raw”, but I hope it makes some sort of sense. Okay here it comes.
What have “classic cars” and “paid links” in common? A price that does not make sense to anybody who is not familiar with the subject. hehe
Like the age of a car is not an indicator of its value anymore after a market for “classic” cars developed. It is for the most part, but because of demand for certain models did some cars suddenly leave the curve of normal value depreciation and suddenly started to gain value again. In some cases significantly. What is a car worth? A 1969 Mercury Grand Marquis might be worth $300-$800 today while a 1969 Ford Mustang can cost over $200,000, a lot more than it used to cost when Ford made the car in 1969. A 1969 Dodge Charger (“General Lee” from Dukes of Hazard) runs only for 30-40K why not $200,000 or more? You can’t get to those figures based on the old criteria of list price and age. The market changed, but adjusted itself more or less.
The used car market has still issues with car scams where cars of low value are sold for more than what they are worth. There are a number of factors that make a ordinary car become a classic, scrap metal or anything in between. This is for me as transparent as search engine ranking factors for classic car experts.
The factors can be influenced and the value of a car goes up because of that, but in general is it pretty predictable how the price will develop for cars, follow the basic rules and an ordinary car will not turn into scrap metal as quickly and a car that is likely to become a classic will gain in value over time. I am not an expert, but I believe that the high price tag for a Ford Mustang is to a large degree the result of appearances in a number of classic Hollywood movies. IMCDB shows 36 pages with movie and TV show appearances for the Ford versus only 4 pages for the Dodge and 2 pages for the Mercury.
Without them would it still be valuable, but probably a lot less than it is today. SEO is like the value preservation for cars and the more aggressive SEO is like the artificial boost of popularity of a car to bring its value up even a little bit more.
Google is like a classified listing that tries to determine the value of the car based on list price, because they can’t figure out all the factors that make people actually pay a lot more money for some old cars while they would pay for others of the same age would only pay what the metal is worth the car is made of. Okay, the car aftermarket became pretty good at determining the actual value of a car and chances are good that a car value is determined somewhat accurate to make sure that a buyer is being found for that price.
Google is not able to make this determination yet for their ranking. The link buying business causes Google to make sometimes the wrong assumption about the actual relevance of some pages, because some SEOs skewed with the factors a little bit too much. Its like showing the Dodge for $200,000. Users will ignore it but not like it. In other cases does the boost increase the relevance of the page and people are perfectly happy. Okay, it was done artificially, but the customer is actually okay with the result. The competitor is not though, because he looses out on business. It’s like the guy who owns the Dodge looking at the Ford and asking why that damn car is so much more worth and why more people want it than his car. The Ford guys were smart and promoted the car much more intelligent.
Google has the problem to be vulnerable to those manipulations and unable to distinguish between manipulations that still return relevant results and make the customer happy and those manipulations that return not so relevant results and are ill perceived. So Google decides that skewing is now prohibited. You can keep your car clean and maintain the engine etc., but that’s it. Any other thing that messes with the potential value of the car as a classic in the future will now be punished and result in the removal from all listings. So the Ford and the Dodge will then sell for about the same and Google will be able to predict the value again. Great!
About Option 3) for Affiliates (screw Google)
Its as much fun as facing a machine gun in the hope that the spray of bullets from the burst that was fired into your direction without specifically aiming at you, will miss you every time. If a bullet hits you anyway, sorry, it wasn’t personal, but collateral damage we have to accept to protect us, because somewhere around the place where you are standing are some guys who cracked our cipher a while ago. Oh, okay, I understand. Suggestion: “How about developing a new code?” I know it is not easy, but in the meantime could I help you by pointing at the guys I know are okay to make it easier for you to single out the bad ones. You could than do single shots that are aimed directly at them. That way I would not be hit by accident by one of your untargeted bullets. How does that sound?
That’s it. Don’t take it serious!
It is a bit cynical, I admit that. I hope that nobody who reads this is an expert in “classic car value evaluation” and gives me a hard time about how the value of an old car is actually being determined. I have to admit that I have no idea how that is being done. :)