Our friends at Google are kind enough to outline on their site the do’s and don’ts of SEO. They call it their Webmaster Guidelines and it’s become the 10 Commandments of SEO.
When one reads it one can’t help but view it as a best practices list and really – there isn’t much anyone can say about it to claim it’s a bad set of rules. Basically it reads, “Don’t cheat and you’ll be OK.” which can be likened to the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
But what happens when the one who makes the rules breaks them? A parent who scolds their child for smoking and then is caught with a cigarette in their mouth loses a lot of their fight and a lot of their justifications. Will the same happen to Google.
At this point you might be saying to yourself, “For goodness sake Dave – get on with it – what rule did Google break?” Alright, I’ll get right to it. They broken the most “sacred”. “Thou shalt not buy links just to improve your rankings.
As it turns out, old Google Japan has been buying links in the form of blog posts to help increase their rankings. Of course, it wasn’t actually Google – it was a third party (of course) and Google Japan’s PageRank has been dropped to a 5 from the 9 it was at.
So a black eye for Google. Of course, they have a good explanation but then – who doesn’t. All the same, the one person who came out of this looking great – Matt Cutts who once more represents Google well and you just want to trust him to do no evil.
You can watch a video interview with Matt to get a better idea of what went on below (Video removed – No longer available).