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Search Engine Manipulation Fuels Content Creator Fears

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Google has recently used a new term – ‘Search Engine Manipulation’ – to shine a spotlight on spammers and protect the integrity of its search results.

In 2014, e-ventures Worldwide had 231 websites removed from Google search results because all were identified as ‘pure spam.’ eVentures sued and a court in Florida has allowed the case against Google to proceed. According to eVentures, when Google removed the sites, it was violation of its own policies forcing the firm to buy AdWords.

The individual to take action against eVentures was Google’s search quality analyst Brandon Falls, and he was also the first to identify Search Engine Manipulation in the following statement:

“An important part of providing valuable search results to users is Google’s protection of the integrity of its search results from those who seek to manipulate them for their own gain. As noted, efforts to subvert or game the process by which search engines rank the relevance of websites are called “webspam” in the search industry. Such search engine manipulation harms what is most valuable to users about search: the quality (i.e. relevance) of our search results for users. Accordingly, Google considers search engine manipulation to be extremely serious and expends substantial resources to try to identify and eliminate it. These actions are critical to retain users’ trust in Google’s search results.”

As a group of unique content creators, this statement sounds completely fair. Google encourages SEO practices within its guidelines, and best practice is clearly outlined in its Quality Guidelines which fervently encourages content creators to avoid link schemes, dodgy redirects, hidden text and links, among many others. But, there are no help documents when it comes to defining Search Engine Manipulation and content creators who don’t deal with SEO day-to-day might feel nervous as they embark on new content projects.

Danny Sullivan, the founding editor of Search Engine Land assures readers that ‘Search Engine Manipulation’ was merely a bad choice of words: “It’s a pity Google wasn’t much clearer and didn’t stay with the commonly used industry terms out there. As a result, it’s possible for anyone to fear monger or fear that doing accepted SEO might be a bannable offense.” It isn’t. Google went public to comfort and reassure the publishing community:

“While we can’t comment on ongoing litigation, in general, Google supports and encourages SEO practices that are within our guidelines and don’t consider that spam.”

Content creators who collaborate with SEO specialists have nothing to fear of Search Engine Manipulation if they adhere to the Quality guidelines. You’ve fought tooth and nail to create unique content, so push the jargon to one side and stick to the facts.

Loving your work, Google. Never change.

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Sharon Flaherty

Hi, I’m Sharon the Managing Director of BrandContent. Day-to-day I oversee client satisfaction and carry out strategic client work. I work on both established financial services brands as well as challengers and love working on both. In a previous life, I was a journalist at the Financial Times and worked in-house for brands including the MoneySuperMarket Group and leading their Content, PR and Social divisions.

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