How Pizza Hut might lead to a discovery about technical SEO
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the SERP
This brings me to the purpose of this post. I talk to a lot of clients every day. Big businesses, small businesses, sites with tens of thousands of URLs and sites with less than 100 URLs. Because I'm not an algorithm-chaser, much of my work with businesses revolves around helping them achieve their business goals and how SEO can be one thing to help them get where they want to go. But still, every day, at least one client comes to me with a competitor who's participating in some "shady" tactics like participating in blog networks or paying for links who is out-ranking them by using those tactics.
The bottom line is that a lot of that old black hat SEO still works and it frustrates the hell out of real businesses. It also makes it really hard to sell them on #RCS.
This is what I say to clients who present me with that scenario:
"Participating in some of the old tactics like buying 10,000 'do-follow' links, setting up blog networks and involving yourself in search engine spam can still work. But it is a huge risk. I have seen businesses with revenue of $40 million per month get a manual penalty from Google and be completely removed from the index. Is that an email you want to wake up to tomorrow morning? If you are willing to take that kind of risk, what kind of resources, both financial and human, have you set aside to tackle the cleanup from such an event?
If it's just me, and it's just my blog, and that's my whole business, and I'm willing to take that risk it's one thing. But, if I'm PizzaHut.com, and I'm not only a major brand but a major employer with 10's of thousands of people and their families relying on that business for their livelihoods, taking that kind of risk is completely irresponsible."
Google has come a long way, certainly. Search experience is improving, machine learning is getting smarter, but it's still machine learning. There will always be loopholes and issues with how well Google interprets content both on and off the page. These will, as anyone in the SEO industry know, always be fast-moving targets. What works today, very well may not work tomorrow.
The fundamentals of SEO are based on making sure that search engines can access and correctly interpret the information on a website. Googlebot might be smarter than it was 16 years ago, but my 16-year-old born three weeks before Google, is still light years ahead of his coeval.