SEOmoz has a controversial post today about a company that is apparently using some questionable SEO practices to gain top rankings for the term “seo company” in Google.com
I agree with Rand that Google should make sure SEO companies don’t manipulate the search results. Quite simply if spammy SEO companies all get top rankings then they get the business and spam becomes more widespread.
However when it comes to using the already controversial Linkscape tool to systematically reveal the “manipulative” practices used by a competitor I think Rand has crossed a line.
If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you know I don’t lightly call out manipulative activities in the search results very often(even though I love ID’ing gamers almost as much as these guys). In fact, I usually do it only when it really raises my ire, and this is one of those cases for two big reasons. First, I think that the SEO-related results, particularly those on page 1 for popular queries need to be among the most carefully monitored. Otherwise, you’re treating the symptoms instead of curing the disease – allow manipulation in these results and you encourage it everywhere else. Second, I find Google’s endorsement of this site via sitelinks (and make no mistake, sitelinks send a definitive message to a searcher that this singular site is not “a” result, but “THE” result for this query) especially egregious.
Manipulation is in the eye of the beholder and to me having lots of links from links pages isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Should they be ranking number 1? Probably not. Is it an “Embarrassment” to Google having them rank number 1? I’m not so sure.