Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Search Engine Obfuscation

I imagine many of you realize this title means I’m about to take a poke at Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Probably not as many recall I’ve already written a post about this (May 13 2013).

Here’s a short quote from that post:

“No matter what you’re searching for or which search engine you use, what you get are never really the best matches. Many hits are there simply because their position was manipulated by Search Engine Optimization.”

Just in case you’re unfamiliar with SEO, it’s the process of improving the visibility of a website or page in a search engine’s results. While this may seem a reasonable goal for many a business, the service is available to everyone—for good or evil.

If you need to know more about what services SEO provides, take a peek at the obvious, Of course, they (or any SEO provider) won’t tell you anything about the downside.

See here’s the thing, the dirty little secret no SEO provider or search engine ever talks about. If you improve one site’s visibility, you also decrease the visibility of every other site.

All search engines have strategies, even if implicit. They can be found, analyzed, and manipulated to a site’s advantage. Some strategies may be more complex than others, and some may be revised more often than others, but there’s always something to be finessed if they’re clever or finagled if they’re devious.

In case you doubt how often search engine strategies change, here’s a quote from “Online marketing has developed beyond search engine optimization. At our services have eVolved to keep delivering the results you want.”

Calling it evolutionary is deceptive. These services optimize for all the major search engines, and strategies are always changing. And if you (or your company) want to benefit from these services, you need to keep buying what they keep delivering.

Of course, your webmaster can buy the SEO books and do this in-house. Either way, once you’ve bought into SEO, the fear of dropping out grows like a cancer. Since the spread of SEO is inevitable, so is the increasing distortion of search results.

What the purveyors of SEO and search engines don’t say is it’s just like an escalating arms race. After all, the more search become obfuscated, the more money they make. Not from us. We get to search for free; and it’s worth what we pay for it.


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