Are You A Bill Clinton Webmaster? Post-Florida Google Pulls Back Fig Leaf By David Leonhardt
One of most frequent questions I get asked about my ebook, Don't Get Banned BY The Search Engines, is whether I amended it to include post-Florida Google. "Florida" is code name that search engine optimizer wizards gave to a November, 2003, shakeup at Google that left many webmasters covering themselves up with makeshift fig leaves while dangling upside down above proverbial crocodile moat.
I am tempted to explain that, "No, I did not amend it, because nothing has really changed." But just try telling world that Bill Clinton did not have "sex" with Monica Lewinski. Yeah, right.
So I take lazy way out and I just say, "Yes."
But guilt has been creeping up on me, grasping at my skin, gnawing away at my bones, chewing on my heart, mauling my conscience, and spitting out my toenails one by one. So this is confession time. Don't Get Banned By The Search Engine has not been amended to include post-Florida Google.
Is this because I am peddling stale goods? Am I leading people astray? Do I have a clue what's going on? "No", "I hope so", and "Maybe".
In fact, nothing really has changed at Google, and webmasters who have been following Google's guidelines can just keep doing what they have always been doing, just as Presidents who follow public decency guidelines can keep doing what they are doing (until we vote them out of office for other reasons, of course).
"But I followed guidelines, and I still took bullets in several vital organs," I hear many webmasters say. In fact, very few webmasters have been following Google's guidelines. Most have been following Clinton what-can-I-get-away-with fig leaf guidelines.
Remember that Bill Clinton never had "sex" with Monica Lewinski. Technically. Honest, he did nothing wrong. He followed rules by not having "sex" with Monica Lewinski. In fact, he was seen in public not having sex with Monica Lewinski on several occasions.
And webmasters follow rules by not linking to "link farms" or "overoptimizing". Sure, they will link to sites that have nothing to do with their site's topic, but not to a "link farm". And they will "exchange links", but surely that does not violate Google's" uniquely democratic nature of web" principle. As long as you are not actually caught publicly stuffing ballot box, how could Google possibly suggest that you are doing so?
So here are my post-Florida rules:
You only link to relevant sites, because that's what you know Google and your visitors want. Keep doing that.