So, who is the world's greatest SEO expert? If you look around websites devoted to SEO link building, you might get the impression that it's a 10,000,000-way tie. Everyone claims to be number one. They're all wrong. There can be only one, and it's Google.
Google's opinion about Search Engine Optimization is the only one that matters, because when it comes to search engines, Google is the elephant in the room. It's important for webmasters to pay attention to Bing and Yahoo, but let's face it: If you don't rank on Google, you're nowhere. The problem for webmasters searching for the best method of SEO link building is that Google never comes right out and explains how their search algorithms work. You can't blame them. If they did, every SEO company in the world would spend all their time gaming the system instead of advising their clients to put great content on their websites. That's why every SEO expert was just one more blind man describing the Google elephant.
If you're not familiar with the story of the Six Blind Men and the Elephant, it goes like this: A king tells six blind men to describe an elephant. They cannot see the elephant, so they use their hands to feel around, and each man describes only the portion they can reach. One man says the elephant is like a rope, because he is holding its tail. Another says the elephant is like a wall, because his hand is on the animal's side. Another says the elephant is like a tree trunk, because he can only feel its leg. Working alone, the blind men can't ever tell what the whole elephant looks like.
That's exactly what it's like for an SEO expert. You try different approaches to make sure your client's webpages rank on Google, but you can never be sure what the entire process looks like. People who specialize in website SEO like to compare notes with others to improve their approach, but you never know if other people have more reliable information than you do. Only Google knows if you're right, because they make the rules. If you make a mistake because someone suggests a forbidden technique as a shortcut, you can get de-listed by Google.
Recently, the great Google elephant has finally spoken. Google released a copy of their Search Quality Rater's Guidelines, and it's as close as they've ever come to explaining how website SEO works on their search engine. For an SEO expert, it's a treasure trove of useful information. It's not a copy of the algorithms they're using. It's more like a blueprint of the information they use to come up with their algorithms.
Google uses human judgment to determine which sites should be ranked highly, which should be de-listed, and everything in between. They have a team of search quality raters who pore over websites using the methods outlined in Google's guidelines, and then assign a score. Google needs to automate this process, because they can't possibly have humans looking at every site on the Internet. They use the results from their raters to set their algorithms, and then they crawl the web ranking websites. If you follow Google quality rater's guidelines for content, you'll be an SEO expert in no time.
The guide is not as useful for people who don't use white hat techniques to increase their search rankings. The document has over 150 pages of information. If you try to cheat, the news is all bad. Google quality raters are given hundreds of parameters to check when determining the relative importance of one website over another, and it would be almost impossible to fool them for very long. If you do discover a way to get around one metric they use for ranking, one of the other parameters will catch you.
A true SEO expert isn't afraid that Google's information is out where anyone can see it. It's not as if webmasters can now perform all their SEO work on their own. Google's list of important details for websites is so long and complicated that no amateur could possibly make use of it. It is a great tool for SEO consultants to see exactly how accurate their methods have been in the past, and how to stay on the right side of Google's preferences for SEO link building in the future.
Google's Search Quality Rater's Guidelines show once and for all that website SEO is best left to the professionals. Website SEO is too important to overlook, and it requires a lot of work to get it right. It also pays to remember what happens when the roles are reversed. When the king asked six blind elephants to describe a man, the first one stepped on the man and said that men were flat. Then all the other elephants stepped on him, and agreed that men were flat. Don't get stomped flat by the Google elephant! Let a SEO expert use the Search Quality Rater's Guidelines to help you keep the Google elephant happy.
Robert Portillo is the founder of Nimbus Marketing. Nothing satisfies him more than expressing his thoughts well. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons. He can often be found at local farmer’s markets, hiking trails, and the beach.