I may be a minority squeak in the thunderous outcry from the search engine marketing industry towards Google and their sudden, unexplained mass drop in “PR score” applied to web sites. I never bought into the hype over PR scores. Regardless of all the reasons to jump on the scoring bandwagon as a way to determine web site value, I refused on the grounds that I wanted genuine worth, not forced.

There’s many easy ways to take advantage of Google’s methods for deciding which web sites are the most valuable. When they created algorithms based on link popularity, they devised the means to manipulate and play upon our “human-ness”, such as self esteem and personal attachment.

Nobody likes metric values placed on something that may be an extension of who they are.

Business owners will do whatever it takes to get their web properties on top of search engine results. Search engines know there’s nothing worse than that feeling of being “ugly”, “unworthy”, “unimportant”, and “not worth linking to”. Several rank solutions are offered such as paying for inclusion. This is advertising and it’s not free. An inexpensive alternative, especially for startup sites, is networking via links. When done with integrity and logic by skilled experts such as Debra Mastler and Eric Ward, reciprocal linking produces positive results.

When the linking process became automated and later evolved into paying for links based on a site’s “PR score”, Google apparently woke up. Why did it take them so long? Why is Google suddenly waging war on web site owners who “wheeled and dealed” to promote their web sites? It’s not as though paying for search engine exposure is something new. Search engines have been taking money from corporate sites for high SERP placement, behind the scenes, since search engines were first invented.

Small and medium web sites have been forced to resort to all sorts of tactics, creating the search engine marketing industry as a result. It’s hard to believe any search engine would punish SEO’s, when it’s they who bring in tons of revenue by connecting their clients to Internet search.

Not every web site owner chooses the search marketing “fast track” to rank. Some remain organic because it suits them. I’m one of them, which is why I never did link exchanges or cared about PR scores. It takes longer to be noticed when you take your time and “do good”, one on one, day by day, heart to heart, soul to soul.

Much, much longer…and I’m not saying it’s the right choice for a business. If I was just starting out now, as opposed to 1996 when I came online, I’d be making different marketing choices.

Wanting to Hold On to the Genuine

I feel that my web sites and business services are an extension of myself. I can’t be something I’m not. I’m unable to use other web sites to make me look better by paying to be on them.

Search engines have a unique way of judging and analyzing web sites. I don’t happen to believe they do this well or accurately.

Take Cre8asiteforums, for example. It was slapped by Google too. For some reason, our PR score went down. We’ve never purchased links, paid for ad space or paid for inclusion. We host ads from two places – Google and Text Link Ads. We don”t earn much money from Google or TLA, but what revenue we have earned, we turned around and gave it away to educational facilities to help fund internships or those who needed financial aid to study with.

How can an algorithm understand intent?

How can any search engine gauge and measure truth, honesty, and those moments when people interact, site to site, link to link, with good intent? Can search engines monitor comments and place value on sites this way? I wouldn’t want this. Everyone knows it’s far easier to complain on the web. Site owners know web site feedback is largely negative, rather than “Hey, great work!”. Should algorithms put more weight on user generated content in determining site or page value? How would we control that?

I’ve come to think I have this idealist view on Internet technology and “bots” that decide the worth of web site properties. I stubbornly believe they can put me into this tiny box and give me any label they wish, but, search marketing or no search marketing, I’m not going to let them change who I am.

If I’m a “PR 0″, I’m not any less of a human being worth getting to know, link to or do business with.

Sure, I’m not an “A-List blogger”. I’m not one of those top usability companies. I’m not a famous conference speaker. I have a terrible habit of volunteering my time, rather than being paid for it. My sites rank well because of years of being out there, being who I am, and not pretending to be something else. I can be shy at first. Definitely klutzy. I’m terrible at remembering names. But when I do my work?

I’m worth every penny.

A tool bar will never know this about me.

Let's Imagine I'm Doing Something on Your Web Site
10/26 Recap: My Week in Usability and SEO

cre8pc

Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, SEO and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, information architecture and persuasive design. She shared her passion for Usability and SEO through her site and private consulting at Cre8pc for 17 years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability testing, customer experience and conversions design.

My Online Course: Web Site Usability 101

Member:

American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

Information Architecture Institute

Usability Professionals Association (UPA)

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