Is Search Engine Optimization Unfair For The Little Guy?

One of our recent visitors raised an interesting question regarding the fairness of using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to manipulate search engine rankings. He stated that companies with large budgets have an unfair advantage because they could pay for better SEO experts, and thus rank more highly for keywords regardless of whether or not they are indeed the best match.

Do Big Budgets REALLY Translate into Big Success?

YES! Whether or not you want to admit it, an effective SEO campaign can greatly improve the keyword ranking and traffic for a website. In many cases, the changes are fairly obvious: compelling titles, accurate descriptions, better urls, etc… But there are other things that SEO experts do as well. First, they may be able to build high-quality inbound links through a large network of contacts, thus increasing pagerank. And second, they often have their own industry-specific recommendations for the ideal keyword density which can be used to effectively game the search engines.

Where does the budget come in? Well, generally speaking, the more you can pay, the better the expert (or team of experts) you can hire.

Why Can’t Search Engines Ignore SEO and Focus On Content?

The goal of every search engine IS to provide its users with the relevant content that they are searching for. However, this is easier said than done. There are trillions of webpages on the internet, and search engines need some method for determining the relative worth of each.

And while a perfect world would enable search engines to ignore SEO and focus on content, this isn’t possible. Instead, search engines rank websites according to algorithms which take into account well-known ranking factors such as on-page content and inbound links. So as long as there is an algorithm, there will always be people trying to game it.

Perhaps SEO Should Be Banned!

Google has strongly discouraged several dishonest tactics known as "black hat" seo because those practices often trick search engines into incorrectly ranking a website. So how are advanced SEO techniques that different? After all, SEO is a practice that definitely puts some websites at a great advantage, regardless of the quality of their content.

Our visitor said:

If a web site sells antique brass it makes no sense for them to become an expert on optimizing their site, or PAY to have an expert optimize or TRICK the search engine into ranking them higher. They should be ranked on their expertise of antique brass.

Google is wrongly skewed to favor those who know SEO rather than those who know their product. When will they rank a site based on the content alone?


So, what do you think? Is search engine optimization as important as people think it is? Is the use of SEO experts unfair to those who cannot afford them? Should Google change its algorithm?

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15 Responses to “Is Search Engine Optimization Unfair For The Little Guy?”

  • stratosg January 7, 2009 at 2:53 am

    well in my opinion i think that if the content is good and well formated then people will come in eventually. so what i think is that if you are a blogger write quality and good content and then sit back and relax. the content will be ranked accordingly and people will come in sometime. the challenge for a blogger is to transform the search engine visitor to permanent reader.

    • Velvet Blues January 7, 2009 at 12:50 pm

      But who wants to wait an eternity??? Whether or not you blog for fun, you do want to find readers…. After all, it is not a lot of fun when you find yourself writing for the crickets. ;-)

  • TechZoomIn January 7, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Spending budget on SEO is always advantage.Small bloggers will face all these and it will take so much time to indexed or succeded without spending buget.

    • Velvet Blues January 7, 2009 at 12:50 pm

      I agree, SEO is a huge advantage. And while, as Stratos says, it is about content. SEO helps you to not only get ranked quickly, but get ranked more highly as well.

  • stratosg January 7, 2009 at 11:05 am

    for sure but as mentioned in another article by Shirley here it’s primary fun so you will have fun and eventually be indexed and known…

    • Velvet Blues January 7, 2009 at 12:05 pm

      By the way, do you employ SEO techniques on your blog? Or are you doing it for fun, without ANY regard to search engines? lol. :-)

      I think all of us use SEO to some extent, even on personal blogs.

  • Kurt Avish January 8, 2009 at 3:26 am

    I have never spend a cent on seo till now. I personally think its more fun and challenging to do it without spending a dime. However its true the more you have the bucks to spend the more the best result :-)

    I am still a university student and so got to limit my expenditure… when you consider that $1 = to Rs34 here where I live lol :-)

    • Velvet Blues January 8, 2009 at 5:21 am

      Yes there is some great satisfaction knowing that you are doing it yourself. But it can also be equally rewarding to get faster or better results by paying for it.

      And that conversion is shocking. I’d limit my expenses as well. :-) I wonder… I see that you have Google Adsense on your website. Are the payouts the same for publishers where you live as for people in the US or the UK? Or are they lower, adjusted to the relative ‘value’ of your money?

      • Kurt Avish January 8, 2009 at 10:44 pm

        The payout are the same per click. I have my account in US dollars itself and the cheque too come in dollar. So for example when i get a cheque of $100 it becomes about 3300 Mauritian rupees.

        I am thinking of using 250 x 250 blocks now for adsense. The conversion are really low for the last two months.

        I think people have stop even looking at my sidebar adsense lol :p Do you think that putting a square adsense above the start of the post is annoying for readers? Let me know of your opinions please.

        By the way there is something which keeps me wondering. I read that google don’t like sponsored reviews. Till now I have made only one sponsored review about a bicycle company..and rejected the others. Do you think a one or two sponsored review per month is bad for our google pagerank?

        • Velvet Blues January 8, 2009 at 11:24 pm

          Thanks for the followup on the adsense payouts.

          As for receiving fewer clicks, your adsense is conveniently located out of the way. So users can easily ignore it. And while I wouldn’t advocate putting it at the start of the post until your blog gets more traffic, I think you should do something to make it more prominent. Or you can just focus on getting more traffic for your site.

          And yes, Google often penalizes for sponsored reviews because they are used in many cases to get a ‘paid link’. What some bloggers have done is to offer reviews but they have explicitly stated that all links will be ‘nofollow’ and that they don’t offer ‘paid links’.

  • Frank Carr January 8, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Overall, it’s not that hard to rank well for low competition terms and even mid-level competition keyword terms. All it takes is a little basic knowledge that’s mostly common sense and a few simple promotional skills that only cost a little time and money.

    • Velvet Blues January 8, 2009 at 11:29 pm

      Yes that is a great tactic. Many times the big companies can afford to target the most popular words and neglect those with less competition. So this does leave quite a bit of flexibility for low-budget or no-budget websites.

  • Nihar January 9, 2009 at 5:00 am

    Nice post. I agree with you. Big guys have undue advantage of getting their websites optimized by paying more to SEO guys.

    • Velvet Blues January 9, 2009 at 8:30 am

      Indeed… every day I find some ‘shady tactic’ used by big companies. Recently, for example, it has been suggested that Dell might be buying links from high PR websites to help them rank highly for certain keywords. So, it is definitely unfair.

  • Web Traffic December 15, 2009 at 5:37 am

    Great article. It can be unfair as master SEO experts take a monopoly on virtually every topic even when they know nothing about that topic. If you generate unique content, however, you can get your way to the top by doing so and properly marketing your website.


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