I am feeling a little disgruntled lately, and it is mostly due to the injustices of the search engine world. My last post talked about why writers should avoid blogging. Basically, I am just fed up with the way the web works, and how it is essentially unfair for the majority of webmasters and content builders (particularly the newer ones).
Perhaps I should have started a blog about this injustice? Or maybe not since the search engines wouldn’t have displayed it unless I SEO’ed it and marketed it to death. Oh well. If you are a disgruntled webmaster and you want to share in my misery and pain–then grab a snack, sit back, and read on why backlink building and SEO sucks. I will also talk briefly about my own personal experience with this:
Why Link Building and SEO Wastes Time and is Pointless
Building backlinks sucks. Agree? Well at this point I am not sure anyone sane would disagree. It wastes valuable time that people could use to do something else (like write a useful article). In my opinion, Google and other search engines should have completely abandoned links as an identifier of valuable content long long ago. Especially as soon as the world realized how to manipulate search results via link building.
Yet these search engines still give an incredible amount of value to websites that have a lot of links pointing to them. Why? Because search engines somehow see links as “votes” that a website is valuable.While this may have been clever 10 years ago, this is just plain stupid in 2010 for several reasons:
- Most people don’t link to content naturally. Think about the average person starting a blog today. They really aren’t going to link to sites naturally, and are more likely to simply put the URL in their post or say “visit whatever.com”. Or, if they are half-way web savvy, they create link using an anchor text of “click here”, which will do virtually nothing for your site’s SEO. Creating a serious link takes time and some level of technical “know how” that most people simply won’t have. Therefore, they link system gets skewed.
- Bad content gets linked more than good content. Most people link to content they think sucks, or has nudity, or has something outrageous in it. It also may be something they disagree with. So if they see a stupid article, picture, or video, they link to it and talk about how much it sucks. Then Google and other search engines will suddenly think this site must be great, and it’s rank will increase. Sounds silly, huh? Of course the person could us a no-follow tag, but that is time consuming, and the average person has no idea what a “no-follow” is.
- Most people only link to buddies. They link to their own buddies’ sites (regardless of quality), and they all increase in rank solely because of a silly popularity competition. They are web-geek gurus who edit Wikipedia or code HTML for fun, and go around dominating the web because they know how to game search engines. That is really unfair if you ask me. And speaking of Wikipedia, don’t even get me started. They often rank number one for keywords, only to have a half-butt filled out page with absurd or inaccurate content. That really annoys me when I am searching online.
- Millions of People Build Links–If everyone on Earth now spends time building backlinks, then how can backlinks even be considered a stable indicator of quality? Everyone now does it, regardless of the quality of the content. A guy writing a crap article may build more backlinks than a person writing an article with the real cure to cancer. Which page will top the search engines? The one with the most backlinks of course (the crap article guy). People have all sorts of sneaky software to automate this process, and companies have individuals that sit at a computer all day doing nothing but spreading links. What a waste of time!
My Own Experience and Frustrations as a Webmaster
I may sound a little cranky, and that is probably because I am a little cranky. Here’s why: I am a blogger who has worked hard (at least on some of his sites), and expects to see that hard work reflected in search engines. But is that the case? Of course not. In fact, I will be shocked if you even read this article! But here is my own shoddy experience with search engine ranking:
I have a condition called cholinergic urticaria (I break out in hives when I get hot-long story). So I started a site in 2007 about it, relating my own experience. This condition is relatively unknown by most people, and there is not a lot of medical knowledge or online information about the disease. So I thought to myself, “Hey, why not blog about it and share my experience and give some tips.”
So I did that. Soon after, I decided to put up a web forum. People started magically finding my site and registering. It was great. So I kept writing articles, adding pictures, and posting on the forum. I kept building traffic very very slowly. Granted, it was extremely slow, but the traffic slowly started to build to a few hundred visitors per month, and then about a thousand per month. I was very happy and enthusiastic.
Then in late 2009 I decided to get smart about SEO. I educated myself more on the subject, and decided to apply some of these SEO techniques to my website. At this point in time, my site already had more information than most, and was on the very last result of the first page (and sometimes was knocked down to the second page on Google). This annoyed me because I wanted the site to get noticed because it is a very helpful resource to people (I have actually learned a lot myself from others on the forum). People even thank me personally all the time for setting the site up.
So I did some SEO to try and improve this. First, I changed my domain name. I thought that would help my ranking having my target keyword in the domain, and it did shoot me up a couple of positions higher (oh joy). I lost my pagerank (which was 3), but I did a 301 redirect to the new domain, so that should soon return any minute once Google does an update (I hope…).
Then, I labored on redesigning the home page to highlight the basic information about the disease. I spent over a week re-writing articles, and re-designing this newer layout to be more user friendly (and at the same time, SEO friendly).I made sure my articles were far more comprehensive and informative than any other single article on the web.
Next, I labored over each article I had written over the past two years, adding keywords, linking to other articles in my site using anchor texts, etc. I also updated a lot of post titles on my forum.
I then tweaked my robots.txt to help block duplicate content from being categorized. In other words, I did everything I could internally to not only make this site SEO optimized, but also to make the site the best on the web concerning this condition. But I didn’t stop there:
I then created a few informational articles, and submitted them to some major article directories (complete with appropriate anchor text backlinks). To my surprise, many had actually added a no-follow tag to the article. That made me frustrated (mainly because what the heck is the point of submitting if you don’t get backlink credit?), but oh well, at least a few didn’t scam me. In any event, I added many articles online and submitted them around on the web.
I also tried to (once again) submit to Dmoz.org 2.0 website directory (about the 4th time in 2 years). But once again, we find that Dmoz.org ignores everyone.
I then went to every relevant site or blog post about this condition, and gave a short article or forum post, complete with a backlink. I also went on YA and a few other sites to build back links. I won’t lie, I hated doing every second of that article submitting and link building, but I did it anyway in hopes of improving my rank. I thought it was so pointless and counterproductive, but I forced myself to do it like a dog forces itself to vomit.
My Results of My SEO Experience:
So after all of that hard work, and 3 years of blogging and writing about a condition which has very little online competition, and very limited number of articles, guess what my Google rank is? For the term “Cholinergic Urticaria,” my site is the 6th result!
Now, some people may cheer with excitement for that position for a keyword set, but not me. Why? Because I deserve number 1, PERIOD! Why do I deserve number 1? Is it because I am the god of hives? No, not at all. I deserve number 1 for the same reason any site SHOULD be number one: Because my site is FAR more useful and informative than the others above me. Period.
And I am not saying that because I am arrogant. I know that some of my sites suck, and perhaps even some of my blog posts on that site suck. But this particular site has more information, pictures, a forum, and blog posts directly tied to this keyword and condition. The whole friggin’ site is about cholinergic urticaria for crying out loud! Why shouldn’t it be number one for that keyword?
Here are the sites that have managed to rank above me, that Google somehow thinks is better than my site (which makes my blood boil):
Position 1: Wikipedia. For goodness sakes, I even helped edit that article a little (although I didn’t originally write it), but this is literally 1 article with a bit of info about the condition, and 1 picture! Big whoop. A good resource, perhaps. Should it be number 1? NO WAY. And frankly, I am tired of Google and major search engines giving so much credibility to Wikipedia. It is rather biased and most articles are incomplete or inaccurate. It certainly isn’t the epitome of web perfection.
Position 2: eMedicine–This is actually a very nice article and resource, but it is just that: one article. I have no problem with this result showing well in search engines, but not above a whole site with not only that same information, but tons more.
Position 3: About.com–About.com has a very small article on cholinergic urticaria. I guess that must be more important than a whole site about it, huh?
Position 4: Dermnet.org.nz/–Another good article, but that is all it is, a competent article. There is certainly no reason why it should be above mine.
Position 5: Depression-guide.com–Yes, I am being serious! A site on depression has 1 article related to CU, and it somehow ranks above my site, which has a whole forum, blog, and website dedicated to the condition! The site is about depression, and depression has as much to do with cholinergic urticaria as a Hershey bar has to do with chickens (not much).
Postion 6: ME— Finally, my site gets this position. Darn, I guess those other sites should rank first. After all, they have a whopping 1 article devoted to a condition. Why would anyone be interested in a whole website about it? Beats me… (note my sarcasm).
UPDATE: Finally my rank increased after a while, but it fluctuates between 2-3. I still hate seo and link building too.
How the Web Should Work
Color me crazy, but it seems to me the web should work like this: The best site gets to the top of the search results, and then the next best, and then the next best, etc. But is this what happens? Absolutely NOT! And my experience above proves it. I am afraid that my voice is only an echo of the countless webmasters out there who feel the same way, as they struggle to get their sites the attention it deserves. Google and the other search engines need to wake up and get with the program.
Now why is my site under those others? Because search engines use flawed and outdated algorithms. Here are some of those flawed-logic algorithms the major search engines use, many of which have propelled these other sites above mine in rankings:
1. Site Age–Some of those sites may be above me because they are older. Genius. By using that logic, shouldn’t a site explaining how the Earth is flat be above one telling about a new discover that it is actually round? Duh! Age is about as useful of an indicator as flipping a coin. Actually, a coin would be more accurate. Age has no connection to quality. In fact, it should be an indicator of OUTDATED and useless material (in most cases).
2. Backlinks–So because some of those sites have been on the web since its origin, they were lucky enough to acquire a few more backlinks (only because there wasn’t a better site to reference at that point in time). So when a better site comes along, what happens? It never sees the light of day in most cases, because other sites (usually worse) were there first to hog all the link love (and the links they have are more “trusted” since they are do-follow). So search engines view the older sites as better, when in reality a new site may be far better. Therefore, you must kill yourself building backlinks, and wait several years. Then you may climb to the top…but only if you are lucky.
3. Dmoz–Dmoz.org is a directory of websites, and Google tends to view your site as more valuable if you get in this directory. The only problem? Like many webmasters, I have submitted my site multiple times over 2 years. I never get a rejection or acceptance, and my site never gets listed. I could apply as an editor myself, but I am not that desparate. It is just silly. I’ll touch on Dmoz more below. I suppose they reject me because I have an ad or two on my site, because I honestly can’t think of any other reason (see #4 below).
4. I Have Ads–Some search engines or directories may dislike your site if you have ads on them. Well guess what? I have ads on my site, so get over it. Why do I have them there? Because I have to eat. I know that may shock some people, but it is true. Building a quality website takes effort, and I would appreciate a little compensation for it (since I could otherwise be earning money with my time).
Just because I have ads on my site, it doesn’t negate the fact that my site has far more useful content than others on the topic. And people can block the ads if they really get that annoyed. But I have to earn a living, and I have many costs associated with running the site (hosting, domain names, taxes, time writing articles, etc.).
Furthermore, every major search engine also has ads everywhere, so I guess by that logic they should de-value themselves?
5. Government and Education Sites— It’s no secret that government sites and education sites are given a boost in the search engines because they are considered more “trustworthy.” In addition, any links from these sites are also given much more weight. Well, I think this too is absurd. I have seen my share of lousy and outdated articles from government or .edu sites appear at the top of search results, when they should never have appeared there.
SEO Sucks, and I Give Up!
In all honesty, I am seriously considering giving up on SEO, and even being a webmaster in general. SEO takes the fun out of running a website. SEO is tedious, boring, and annoying–but without it you can’t succeed. Can you outsource your SEO? Sure can. But expect to pay hundreds or thousands in the process, and the results won’t last forever. The small amount of money your website may make in revenue will likely get burned away in SEO expenses. And paying for SEO doesn’t guarantee you will actually increase your rank.
So I am going to end this whiney rant and go get some food because I am hungry. I don’t have anything else to say on this topic. I am frustrated, and I am bored, and I am tired. Tired of injustice. Tired of favoritism. Tired of flawed algorithms. Tired of writing content that almost never gets viewed. Just plain tired.
It’s official folks. Dmoz.org is coming out with an amazing 2.0 system! A question a lot of people ask is, “What does the new 2.0 stand for?”
What is Dmoz.org 2.0? What Does the 2.0 Mean?
Webmasters can now enjoy all of the amazing benefits in the new 2.0 improved version:
- Double the wait time–Still not listed after 2 years of prayerful submissions? DOUBLE IT! Now it will take you 4 years (if you ever get in at all). In fact, dmoz is the only thing making me doubt the efficacy of prayer at this point…
- Double the corruption–Even more editors now allow greed to flow through their veins as they prohibit any competitor sites from entering…
- Double the Payoffs–Want in the directory really really badly? Be prepared to pay double to sites like (www.searchmarketingsales.com/DMOZ_submission_services.html)
- Double the rejection–Angry because your site got banned or rejected? Then they will accept your site only to ban you again just for laughs…
- Double the mis-categorized sites—Tire of seeing sites in categories that don’t belong? Double it!
- Double the sites listed–Tired of seeing the same old domain in 5,000 categories, hogging all of the link juice? Double it. That same site will now be in 10,000 categories: compliments of the editor who is gaining a benefit from it…
- Double the Site Requirements–Have a misspelling? Did you accidentally use bad grammar on a page? Did you use then instead of than? Did your website look unattractive to the editor? Sorry, but your site doesn’t meet their requirements…It doubly fails.
- Double the Errors During Submission–Tired of seeing errors when you go to list a site? Double it!
Yep, it is official. Dmoz is double the everything that it used to be. HINT: For those of you who may be slow, the above is just a joke…
Why My Frustrations Toward Dmoz.org 1.0?
I am only one of many webmasters who has repeatedly submitted quality and unique websites to this directory over the past 2-3 years, only to be completely ignored. Meanwhile, a great many sites are loaded up in the directory that absolutely have no value whatsoever.
I think it is incredibly unfair how a webmaster has no chance to get into a directory that is taken so seriously and given such authority by search engines. You have absolutely no recourse as a webmaster. Editors take forever to look at your site, and if they don’t like it, they reject it without warning or explanation. Many editors have been known to purposely ignore your site if it competes with their own listing (this has happened in the past).
I would gladly pay a one time editorial fee of $50-200 just to get in this darn directory (only because Google values it so much). But of course they don’t want to do that for whatever reason. For goodness sakes, either they should step up their game and take the directory seriously and hire real editors without an agenda (even if they have to charge), or Google should completely drop this as a source at all.
Being a Webmaster is Not Fun
I remember starting a website a few years ago. I thought the web worked like this: Whoever had the best site, should be in the top search results position. I was wrong. Unfortunately, it is whoever has the most links, most dmoz.org directory results, and so forth. So sad and unjust. I lose sleep at night thinking of all of the countless websites out there that probably have such useful content, yet never see the light of day because they don’t have enough “links.”
So I guess I will go on and keep being a crappy 2nd rate linkless webmaster all of my days, feeding off any lucky search engine referrals I can get. My motivation to succeed has dried up like a drop of water in the desert sand…
I absolutely refuse to haggle others for a backlink. Why? Because building backlinks sucks. I absolutely think blogging sucks too (not the writing part, just the webmaster part). But for some reason I hang on to my blogs. Why? I have no idea. Yeah, I get a small chunk of change each month, but that isn’t the only reason I hang on. I guess I see hope that one day a site that deserves to be at the top will actually get it. Perhaps I should write a speech on this:
My Speech of a Distraught Webmaster
I have a dream, that my child’s website will be on day be judged–not because of the number (or color) of links, but because of the usefulness of the content.
I have a dream that one day the number of Dmoz directories listings won’t matter, because there will be a better way to classify sites in “REAL TIME.” There will also be real feedback, and real integrity in the process.
I have a dream that one day Wikipedia will NOT get the top result for nearly every search term, and a more useful, unbiased, and better managed site will take over.
I have a dream that one day “PageRank” will come to mean the page number on the bottom page of a book, not a mystical and forbidden algorithm used to value your site.
I have a dream, that one day webmasters will no longer have to waste time building backlinks, or commenting on forums or blogs, or waste time submitting to directories that will simply ignore them–all in hopes of getting their website known. Instead, they can do what they really want to do anyway: build useful websites and create content.
I have a dream that one day all spam will vanish from the internet, and people will actually market in ethical ways.
I have a dream, that I will get to see at least one of the above come true before I draw my last breath on this Earth…