I just finished watching the movie The Internship, a comedy about two out of work salesmen who try to get an internship at Google, and it got me thinking. As many of you know, Google has discontinued the Google Authorship program, and is getting very aggressive about link spam (see my article Is Linking Dead for SEO? for some commentary about that).
The fact is, Google is at war… at war with spammers, who are rapidly learning its weaknesses. And us webmasters, content creators and site owners, who focus on quality work, sometimes become collateral damage in this war.
We’ve all been attacked by these spammers, directly or indirectly. They spam our blogs, they spam our email, and they spam our search engines, knocking our quality listings from their rightful places. Google attempts to defend from these spammers, sometimes getting it wrong, and destroying incomes of honest site owners in the process.
We all get mad at Google from time to time for making changes that unintentionally damage the good guys, or for changes we think are not in everyone’s best interest.
But in wartime, everybody gets hurt.
Spammers have figured out the Achilles heal of their current algorithm: links. And Google is reacting by penalizing those who abuse links to spam. And spammers are reacting to that by getting their competitors’ websites banned by making it look like their competitors were spamming, when they really were not.
What is really needed is new indicators, additional indicators, that give a bigger picture, and are more diversified and harder to game. Google Authorship could have been that, but they cancelled that program.
And I am not sure Google can fix this problem by itself.
We need multiple, independent groups, grading the quality of content and websites, and then search engines like Google and Bing use that information as one of their many diversified indicators.
It may be possible for a spammer to fool one group or algorithm, but it would be near impossible to fool everyone, especially when they all use different methods to grade quality of content and detect spam.
Maybe we need to share information about the quality of websites with each other, and maybe we need to create new ways to do so.
After all, a united front tends to do much better than a fragmented set of individuals who don’t even talk to one another.