Google – Have they become the bully in the room?

Recently I got an email that started off…

Hi Webmaster,

Due to Google’s algorithmic changes we reviewed XXXXXXXXX.com’s (the real URL is unimportant to this discussion) link profile for our client.  Our client has asked us to request removal of their content / specific links to their site.

The link(s) your site has to our client’s site are on the list of links needing to be removed.  We respectfully ask that you remove these links. Blah, blah, blah…

I’m a Realtor® and I own and maintain several web sites that are aimed at providing useful information to people who may be interested in the learning more about the real estate process or who may wish to buy or sell a house.  As part of the content of my real estate web sites, I have written a series of informational articles, which are available there and I have researched the Internet for other sites that have useful information about the real estate process or information on ancillary topics that I feel my customers might want.

I’m not an expert on many of the topics that might be helpful for my clients, so I established links to those web sites that have articles posted by people who are experts. Those topics might include things like advice for people getting divorces (real estate usually plays into that action), or people dealing with the estates of recently deceased family members, or people with tax questions about the sale of a property, or any number of other topical areas for which there are great web sites with meaningful reading for my clients. The link mentioned above was one such link. I also note that I have never asked any of those sites for as reciprocal link back to my sites and as far as I know none have ever placed links back to my sites.

Now, due to “Google’s algorithmic changes” more than one of the web sites that I have links to for my client’s benefit have sent me similar emails, asking that the links be removed. Google somehow ends up being happier (I guess) and the web sites that I remove the links to end up being less threatened by Google (I guess) and I know that my clients end up with less helpful information on those topics. It doesn’t make sense. It’s unfortunate that an algorithm, instead of a live person, makes those calls, since any reasonable person after looking at the page and links in question could have seen that they were not SEO-driven links meant to game the system, but rather an integral part of the service that I was trying to render to my clients through my site.

Let me hasten to add that I understand that the whole search environment has ended up being compromised and perverted by the SEO crowd who make their money trying to game the Google and Bing search algorithms and achieve a higher ranking for their clients (likely higher than the sites deserve, based upon their content and real value). Not a week goes by that I don’t get 3-4 calls from these helpful people, many of whom try to use high-pressure sales techniques to get me to sign up. I have never used an SEO company and never will; but I have witnessed the corruption of the original intent of the Internet and of search engines, because of the greed and lack of scruples of many of hose SEO companies. They have mostly succeeded in closing out the little guys who have honest, simple little web site and no money for SEO. I think that is what Google has been working to try to prevent, but in their quest to outsmart the SEO crowd they have ended up becoming the bully in the room and compromised their own motto of “do no harm” (or “do no evil”). Perhaps we little guy web sites have just become collateral damage in the constant war between Google and SEO’ers trying to game their system.

I even get emails directly from Google telling me how I have to change my web sites to be more “mobile friendly” or face the wrath of the Google algorithm and relegation to the search results hinterlands. I’m working on that, but it’s not always easy for a one-man show to keep up with the demands of Google. Somehow, Google has become much less like the friendly Wizard depicted in the movie The Wizard of Oz and much more like the sinister and controlling wizard of the play Wicked. Unfortunately, banishment from the favor of Google means far worse than banishment from Oz. It means you are relegated to page 20 or higher in the search results and your web site becomes invisible, a non-entity. Monkeys really will fly before anyone sees your site. That is really sad and not at all consistent with the original intent of search engines.

So; off I go to remove links on my web sites that lead to great content on other web sites for my clients; not because they still aren’t very good places to visit with meaningful content, but because they offend the great and powerful Oz, oops I meant Google Algorithm. Hopefully, you’ll still be able to find my websites; but you might have difficulty if you Google them, because I’ll probably be invisible there, somewhere down around page 40 or 50 in the search results, I suppose. I may end up so far down the Google results list that only Bing will be able to find my sites. Oh, the pain of it all! Oops, I hope that link was alright. Oh, that’s right, I forgot, Google owns YouTube, too. Now I’ll get emails from YouTube asking me to remove that link from this post. Sigh!

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