As most people who know a thing or two about SEO have steadfastly maintained, there’s no such thing as guaranteed rankings, or perfect, ironclad SEO. Now, at long last, we’ve been given a bit of ammunition for our arguments, straight from Google. See, recently the search engine giant took SEO firm Local Lighthouse to court.
Like most snake-oil SEOs, Local Lighthouse was engaged in some pretty questionable tactics. It used cold calls with auto-dialers in an effort to sell its services. Its salespeople introduced themselves as “Google Local Listing Representatives.” And perhaps worst of all, it guaranteed front-page placement on the SERP.
Google, of course, was not amused.
“Defendant’s statements guaranteeing first-page placement in GOOGLE search results constitute false statements about Defendant’s services because no SEO company, including Defendant, can guarantee such placement,” reads a court document cited by The Register. “These statements also constitute false statements about Google’s services, because the necessary implication of such statements is that first-page placement in GOOGLE search results can be guaranteed through SEO methods.”
Google seeks to bring a criminal case against Local Lighthouse in a jury trial, both for its use of robo-dialers and its attempt to falsely represent its employees as affiliates of Google. In a recent Public Policy blog post, Google decried the practice of robocalling, referring to it as both illegal and misleading to the customer. It also established that the practices of businesses such as Local Lighthouse are, unfortunately, nothing new.
“Robocallers have targeted Google users for many years,” the piece reads. “Callers commonly bombard recipients—usually small business owners or individuals—with misleading offers and promotions for improving Google Search and AdWords rankings, or to improve their Google My Business profile. Since the beginning of 2015, we’ve received hundreds of complaints from users about robocalls they’ve received from businesses claiming to be affiliated with Google.”
“Illegal robocalls never have, and never will, come from Google,” it adds.
At any rate, Google’s case against Local Lighthouse should make one thing absolutely clear: there’s no such thing as a shortcut when it comes to SEO. Ranking on Google requires more than manipulating a few variables under the hood; it’s an involved, difficult process which combines marketing and content creation with just a dash of technical knowledge. And any SEO firm that tries to tell you different is lying.
“Good SEO, in its purest form, is not simply about generating high volumes of traffic to a website,” writes Rich Dean of Supersonic Playground. “Good SEO is more strategic. It’s about identifying who your target audience is, what they search for, and making sure your content is tailored in a way that meets their needs.”
“Search engines aren’t stupid,” Dean continues. “They’re not built to tailor to the whims of businesses trying to exploit them. They’re built to serve relevant, appropriate content to the searching public. As long as you have a site that is designed and built to the highest standards, that provides a great experience for your users, with relevant, honest content that is tailored to their needs, you’ll always have the best possible chance of success”