In the World of SEO, Do Nice Guys Finish Last?

Do you remember the old Ken-L-Ration TV commercials?  My dog’s better than your dog… my dog’s bigger than your dog… my dog’s smarter than your dog.

Ranking is an obsession in this world.  Who’s first?  Who’s tallest?  Who has the most money? Who’s the prettiest? Who’s the fastest?  Maybe Charlie Sheen was right about that winning thing.

But nowhere is ranking more important these days than in the world of Internet search.  SEO firms have been getting rich for more than a decade now, creating fear in the hearts of organizations whose websites don’t appear on page 1 (preferably as the first entry).  They have also been playing dirty, overly optimizing websites to the point of polluting the environment with SEO junk instead of meaningful content.

So, Google plans to penalize them in order to level the playing field for other websites who do not concentrate on such efforts.  If this sounds like a move the government might make, that’s because it is.  No doubt the SEO service providers who have created this mess need to be stopped – partly for ripping off clients and partly for clogging the main arteries of the information superhighway.

In a recent article in TekGoblin, Google Engineer Matt Cutts explained: “We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect.”

As a marketing professional and an Internet surfer, I really like that first part.  But as a freedom-fighter, I don’t like that second part quite so much.

I mean really, who put Google in charge of deciding what’s right and wrong… what’s good and bad… what’s acceptable and what’s not?  Oh, wait, I just remembered; in a world where rankings are everything, Google is the biggest and the richest kid on the block, so they get to make the rules.

I just hope we can all live with them.

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.