Google has (finally!) come around and validated SEO consultants world wide, acknowledging that Search Engine Optimization is an essential ingredient of a successful web site. This took many years! Some will note that Google continued to deny the value of SEO right up until Google itself figured out how to profit from it.
Initially, in the old days, Google denied SEO even existed. They sometimes referred to a small, disjoint community of fringe webmasters “gaming the system” as if it were an annoyance for Google and something bad for everyone. Of course they did this as they built their massive monopoly on search and advertising. They also did this as insiders at Google (Google employees) build personal web empires to exploit their knowledge of how Google works both sides of the traffic control and ad publishing marketplace.
The SEO consulting field grew rapidly due to the market demand for something other than Google’s promises of riches to webmaster who simply follow the published Google rules. Clearly Google’s claims didn’t hold water. Those who executed on SEO practices outperformed everyone else, often to amazing degrees. Still, though, Google tried to brand SEO as evil (and in some cases, “illegal”). In many cases, Google was nearly forced to rewrite and update its published guidelines, as professional SEO consultants exposed situations where Google clearly didn’t behave as it promised to behave.
Eventually SEO had earned so much respect in the marketplace based on performance alone (even overcoming Google’s significant attempts to brand it negatively) that even Google had to pay attention. Matt Cutts opened a dialog with the professional SEO community, and, over time, Google increasingly acknowledged that SEO existed, was important, and that people needed to learn SEO.
Google started an SEO education channel on YouTube, addressing hundreds of common SEO issues. Matt Cutts and other Google employees contributed expertise about how SEO increased the odds for business success on the web. Google answered submitted questions, and Google employees participated in site reviews at search conferences. Google still didn’t openly acknowledge the SEO consultants, however, choosing instead to continue to warn consumers not to trust SEO consultants. For every few words acknowledging that some could be helpful, Google published dozens of words cautioning consumers of the risks of hiring SEOs or following SEO advice.
These days the marketplace has had just about enough of Google’s misinformation. Every day we read articles admonishing Google for privacy invasions, aggressive unilateral moves against select web publishers, and corporate behavior typical of yesterday’s AT&T, SouthWestern Bell, or Verizon. Google has become the big greedy insensitive corporation, despite its promises of “being good”. We are seeing reports of the equivalent of “insider trading” at Google, where Google employees help select friends and associated with SEO issues, secretly and “unofficially” at the same time that Google the corporation refuses to provide public customer support, or even a communications channel.
But now, finally, SEO consultants around the world can rejoice. Google the corporation has validated the SEO consultant. According to reports of this Google post, Google will start offering SEO services on a limited basis (starting in Norway). Since Google always tests first and usually runs extended “beta” periods for their new offerings, it will likely be some time before we know how far Google will move into the SEO services marketplace. But one thing we know for sure: SEO is an essential ingredient of any web site, and it takes a search professional (a respected professional SEO consultant or perhaps a Google employee) to advise business on how to SEO their web sites.
John Andrews is a professional SEO consultant in Seattle, Washington. John has been focused on Search Engine Optimization since before Google launched, and a full-time independent SEO Consultant since 2003.
Updated: The Google post was subsequently updated. I now see this (translated to English by Google):
“When we published this post, we did this in order to reach our target audience: Webmasters in the Nordic countries. Some readers misunderstood this as an indication that we introduce help for webmasters over the review of the pages; imidlertig this is not the case. A site clinic is an opportunity for us to come up with constructive criticism and share tips on improving web pages, hopefully, can lead to better visibility for these pages. Our decision to keep search and advertising completely separated continues to be a definite fact.We should have made this clearer in the original post, and hope this post clears up any confusion.”
I received two requests to acknowledge this. I also note the language used… despite the fact that this still reads like consulting on seo matters where Google legal has imposed a clarifying statement denying any crossover between search and paid advertising, Google chooses language that claims it is the reader who has made an error (“Some readers misunderstood this…“). Perhaps Google needs to return to finishing school for a bit?