It is no secret that Google has a complicated love-hate relationship with SEO. While the company is in favor of optimizing website’s pages so it would be better for both search bots and human visitors, the company is basically against all types of creating links to the sites artificially.
Although some of Google employees have stood against off-page SEO (creating backlinks) in the past, i never heard such harsh statements against SEO in general like the ones posted in Hacker News recently by Jonathan Rockway, one of Google’s new programmers (started working for the company since January 2012). Here are his two controversial statements:
- “Instead of being able to SEO the entire Internet, businesses can now only affect the search results for a tiny percentage of users. That’s a good thing because SEO can’t scale, and SEO isn’t good for users or the Internet at large.”
- “Advertisers get their content on top of everything else. It’s a good compromise between advertising and usability, and it works really well. It’s a bug that you could rank highly in Google without buying ads, and Google is trying to fix the bug.”
Those are pretty severe sayings from someone how is actually working for Google! This is the first time that one of Google’s employees (or a Googler as they call it) is expressing his opinions in such opposing manner against SEO, what can also reflect on the company’s official approach (which operates, if you forgot, the most popular search engine worldwide).
The second statement is probably even more severe as it essentially contradicts everything that Google was so proud of all of the years as an impartial search engine that can’t be affected by advertising, which is one of the reasons it grew to be so big (that and a better search algorithm than its rivals).
Trying To Clarify and Remedy
A few days later after this story went public and many angry fingers were pointed at Google direction, Jonathan Rockway released another post in Hacker News, where he moved away completely from his buying ads for rankings statement, as probably one of Google’s executives rebuked/taught/put some sense in his head:
“I shouldn’t have mentioned ads here. Position on the results page should only depend on the quality of your content; if your site has the best content on the Internet for the user’s search terms, you should be the top result. You shouldn’t be able to change your position in the organic results any other way, like by exploiting bugs in Google’s ranking algorithm.”
As for the anti-SEO statement, it most probably reflects only the personal opinion of Jonathan Rockway and not Google’s. Just a few months ago, Google’s Matt Cutts (which considers as Google search unofficial spokesman) discussed in a nearly 4 minutes video only about how Google don’t consider SEO as spam:
If you ask me, Google’s official approach of “SEO isn’t spam” is only half true. While on-page optimization is something that Google endorses and encourages, i think that the fellows at Google search team simply despise off-page SEO tactics and constantly trying to fight against them.