White HatFollowing is the interview of a lifetime for me because of my guest – Tim Carter from AskTheBuilder.com and StainSolver.com. Who is Tim?

If you don’t know him, in a word, he’s a pretty famous “white hat poster boy” for Google, one of the famous case studies for AdSense success that Google put a spotlight on for years.

See:

He’s not alone, Tim is just one example that Google has showcased to bolster trust in their products like AdSense, but Tim seems to come up an awful lot when Google makes changes to the algorithm.

In times past, he’s been used to illustrate successful publishing because he doesn’t try to “game the system” by using link-building techniques that violate Google guidelines.

The thinking being that, “If Tim can do it – you can, too!” For many years, that selling of the good life by being a good web publisher has worked in Google’s favor.

The relationship between Google, Inc. and Tim can be illustrated by the fact that Tim has testified before on Google’s behalf when issues of anti-trust litigation have arisen, and he has been referenced as a success story on Google’s behalf on more than one occasion.

But something happened with 2011′s Panda and 2012′s Penguin updates that you may not be aware of: this knight-in-shining-armor for white hat SEO practices has lost 70% of his traffic thanks to updates that were supposed to reward “quality, original content” and “punish webspammers.”

AskTheBuilder.com has for years produced nothing BUT original content, and does not engage in webspam for Google to punish.

His site followed the proposed guidelines that Google put forth, yet he got punished in the SERPs.

For those of you who plan on “playing by Google’s rules” to reap the reward of free SEO traffic – listen carefully to this interview. Ask yourself the following:

  • Do you think you can use SEO as a main traffic source, so long as you “play it safe” (according to the ever-shifting rules of Google)?
  • Do you think that SEO has a predictable ROI?
  • In a year from now, will all your search engine traffic still be growing, or subject to yet another algorithm “correction” designed to “punish the bad guys?”
  • Should any business be built using SEO as a main source of traffic?
  • Who really benefits from these algorithm updates: white hat SEOs? Blackhat? Or a third party named “Google, Inc.?”
Google claims they want to reward quality content, but can they keep a straight face in light of many examples to the contrary?*

But there’s a breaking news twist to the story. Don’t miss it.

I’ll warn you ahead:

It’s not polished.

It has klutzy moments – I was nervous, I’m human and flawed.

It’s long.

But bookmark it. Share it in your social networks for others to hear. Refer to it and spread the news.

The message in this interview is much bigger than my blog and deserves attention, so please link to this post and get word out to everyone thinking about SEO for traffic.

I don’t embellish the case when I say this is a ground-breaking, newsworthy story. To hear it, listen to the interview in full.

Key Googlers’ Quotes to Keep In Mind

While listening to the interview, please keep these priceless quotes from key players at Google, Inc in mind. The mixed message from Google should become pretty apparent (all bold text has been added editorially):

Quoting Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts from the official release of the Google Panda update of 2011:

[Panda] is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

…Google depends on the high-quality content created by wonderful websites around the world, and we do have a responsibility to encourage a healthy web ecosystem. Therefore, it is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does.

Quoting Matt Cutts as he announces the launch of what later became titled “the Penguin Update”:

In the next few days, we’re launching an important algorithm change [Penguin] targeted at webspam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines.

…Sites affected by this change might not be easily recognizable as spamming without deep analysis or expertise, but the common thread is that these sites are doing much more than white hat SEO; we believe they are engaging in webspam tactics to manipulate search engine rankings.

Finally, Larry Page, co-founder of Google and current CEO, once upon a time had this to say about what Google was all about (before Google began turning search into billions of dollars in profits):

Most [web] portals show their own content above other content elsewhere on the web. We feel that’s a conflict of interest, analagous to taking money for search results. Their search engine doesn’t necessarily provide the best reults, it provides the portal’s results. Google conscientiously tries to stay away from this.

[Source: see Page 2, Footnote 5]

Here’s the Interview

Enough preamble. Here’s the interview (don’t copy and redistribute, please right-click and copy this URL to this post to share the content):

Play the Interview: AsktheBuilder Tim Carter on Google and Web Traffic

What to Do Now?

There are 3 steps I’d like you to consider taking in response to this post.

1) Write to your state representatives or relevant authorities where you live.

If you’ve been unfairly hit by Panda or Penguin, or suspect that Google is inserting results that are more self-serving than actually quality, please write a letter to your state representatives in the U.S.

Find your state representatives here.

Stick to the facts. This means that if you have content scrapers that have replaced your rankings using your content (like I have), collect URLs and give links and evidence to make the case.

If you’ve contacted Google and haven’t seen a resulting correction, or notice that content farms and spun articles (or other low-quality sites) have replaced your rankings, write that down.

Someone needs to hold Google accountable to do what they claim they’re doing.

If you’re not in the U.S. then contact the appropriate authorities (and feel free to link to them in the comments below).

2) Please share this post on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, StumbleUpon…you name it. Use the buttons floating to the left of this post in the share-bar, or as you leave a comment there are options to take.

Or Tweet it here by clicking this link.

Thanks – the message deserves to get out to as many channels as possible, so please do so by linking to this post please.

3) Please join me in my new venture if you want traffic resources you CAN trust.

SEO is just one traffic resource, but it’s no longer one you can base a business on. Since I’ve been online, Google has been shaking the search community up in regular intervals.

If you’re an SEO, they do NOT have your best interests at heart: Google owes no SEO a lick of traffic, that message is loud and clear.

So while I think writing senators and taking a part in getting this message out there is a step in the right direction, it won’t get you traffic, either.

So what now?

Do you keep building sites that are “Google friendly” when Matt Cutts claims that Google punishes sites “they believe” are engaging in webspam (even when they are not)?

My answer?

Quit riding the Google roller coaster. Get most of your traffic from other resources Google doesn’t control.

To learn more, please join me in my new venture by entering your email below, we all need traffic but we don’t need Google (and they don’t reward white hat SEO – more on that in future posts from my own front yard).

The fact is that SEO’s are trusting Google to provide free traffic from a hostile, self-serving source of traffic that’s currently being or has been investigated in one degree or another (on multiple continents) for anti-trust allegations.

We business-owners need to ask ourselves if we can truly expect today’s Google traffic to bring in tomorrow’s customers, and ask ourselves “On what grounds?”

Why do we trust Google with the lion’s share of our traffic, when they keep shaking up the SEO world? If you’re paying for AdWords – haven’t you heard of the thousands of webmasters getting their accounts shut down?

Google answers to nobody, they settle out of court and little litigation seems to stick.

They’re literally “too big to fail,” but what that means for the small businesses online is that you’re too little to succeed in a Google-run ecosystem.

If you think otherwise, you’re either on their payroll or haven’t been online long enough to get Google-slapped.

White hat SEO and following Google’s ever-changing rules is no guarantee of your now and future success, it’s that simple.

*For Further Evidence You Can’t Trust Google

If you think I’m being too cynical on Google’s practices, please follow these links. Doing this interview, Tim made me do my research.

I’m not happy with what I found:

Video of Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, before a Congressional Subcomittee (which lead to a letter imploring the FTC investigate Google’s monopolist/anti-trust position):

That interview resulted in this letter filed against Google by members of Congress, asking the FTC to investigate:

http://www.kohl.senate.gov/newsroom/upload/Google-FTC-Letter-12-19-11.pdf

Investigation by Foundem (a price-comparison site competing against Google Products), suggesting that Panda was a Trojan Horse and the key to understanding Google’s ulterior motive:

http://news.techeye.net/internet/search-outfit-argues-panda-key-to-google-antitrust-case

Former Justice Department prosecutor, Beth Wilkinson (famous for convicting the the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh), commissioned by the FTC to lead their investigation into alleged Anti-Trust violations of Google:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/apr/27/ftc-google-antitrust

Tim’s own observations and further suggestions on Google’s negative impact on his business:

http://www.timcarter.com/free_high-quality_content_online_-_how_much_longer.html

Please Stay Tuned…

I have SEO on the brain, have had it that way for years – but SEO is not my primary business. Web publishing and marketing online is.

Personally I’m saddened to find all I’ve found out about Google and why they’re being investigated for Anti-Trust allegations.

I kept thinking, “So what? I keep getting paying customers – all this other noise is Google’s problem to sort out…”

Well then I got hit by Penguin.

Then I got my eyes opened to the “big picture” and frankly, I can’t trust my livelihood to Google if they aren’t going to reward high quality content like they claim.

SEO is nothing more to me than a method to market my business – but it’s far from the only way to do so.

So what now? Stay tuned, and please sign up to get more details as they come forth. My new venture is cutting out the highest risk factor in my business – my once-favorite source of traffic.

I’m not done with SEO, but I am done depending on it.

What about you? How are you moving forward?

Let’s talk more in the comments (after you share this post!).

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!