So I was looking over the shoulder of the white hat dude I’m suppose to be observing (my penance from Google for committing SEO sin – did I mention Google turned me into a lamp ? Anyway…) when he came across a post that talked about how Matt Cutts (Mr. Google himself) “allegedly” stated at a conference that Google profiles SEOs  like common criminals. Now it turns out that Mr. Google didn’t make such a statement, and it was someone else kinda close to Google that made a statement that sounded like Google profiles SEOs as criminals, or someone else insinuated that Google thinks this, or something like that…I don’t know. But honestly, who cares. My initial response to all this “criminalization” of SEO talk is “No Sh*t”! Some of the more black hat SEO dudes have done some crazy stuff in the past that would even make me blush (and I’ve done some crazy black hat stuff in my days previous to lampdom). BUT, I have to say I don’t agree that all SEOs should be profiled as criminals.
Take my little “office mate” for example. He doesn’t try to shove 11lbs. of keywords into an 8lb. bag. He writes valuable content. I mean it’s actually interesting stuff (as much as it pains me to say it). His definition of optimizing content is making sure a page of content is valuable to the reader AND is clear enough to the search engines so it can be properly indexed. This isn’t criminal activity. This a man who understands the vehicle in which his content is going to be found. He’s not manipulating anything. He’s making sure his content is law biding. If the Google police pull over his content, it’s going to have a driver’s license, current registration, and adequate insurance coverage. There’s no trickery here…just content obeying all traffic laws and having the proper forms of identification.
Now of course not all SEOs are as squeaky clean as our boy over here at The Search Agency. I mean the origins of SEO are a bit dark themselves . As some of you older black-hat webmasters undoubtedly remember, there was a time when a Meta Keywords Tag was the perfect seeding ground for growing big, strong, and healthy rankings. You know what I’m talking about…the days when a hidden DIV filled with wonderful traffic-rich keywords skyrocketed your site to the top of the Google charts and shoveled money into your pockets. Those were MY days (I like to call them the “golden age” of SEO). But those days are long gone. The hidden DIV is now a Scarlet Letter and Meta Keywords Tags are as relevant and influential as Friendster. Google has wised up over the years and is now nearly impossible to deceive. BUT, people still try to. And Google is probably sick of it. Shoot, I’d be sick of it too. I wouldn’t blame Google if they eventually said “Screw it. You’re all criminals”, and made it an official edict. As unfair as such a scenario may sound, it does make sense. It’s just like the teacher who punishes the entire class because the one kid who hid the chalkboard erasers won’t come clean. Sometimes you just gotta punish everyone.
So, to make a long story short, regardless of who said what when about SEOs and labeling them as criminals, I don’t think it’s fair that all SEOs are seen as criminals/manupilators/bad people. But, if the bad people get worse, and black hat becomes more of a nusance to Google and the rest of the search engines, I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave the whole industry the smack down. As they say, when one kid pees in the pool, you gotta kick everyone out.