The curious case of Google’s SEO searchers

They may no longer be relevant, but most (all?) of our sites still have meta keyword tags. When we redevelop a site, we tend to take the header tags in full from the previous incarnation, so unlike the old joke about George Washington’s axe (‘This is the original. I’ve only had the handle and blade replaced’) there really are remnants of some of the sites going back to the 1990s.

The reason Google (and later Bing) categorically stated that they were useless was probably down to webmasters and so-called SEO experts stuffing web pages full of useless search terms. I’ve used more terms than I should have in some cases (e.g. fashion magazine appears in some of Lucire’s travel features—but then I see those stories as a fashion magazine’s take on a destination) but I don’t recall purposely stuffing the tag full of useless words to get a search engine hit. I always thought that if you keyword-stuffed, the search engines would penalize you. Evidently no one had anything to fear.

In other words, the keywords have become useless because the unscrupulous outnumbered the scrupulous when it came to the web. And that’s a really sad state of affairs. It wasn’t recent, either: Google first stated it would ignore the keyword tag in 2009.

Then again, Google lies, so take from that what you will.

We’ve kept them partly because of the age of some of our sites, and maybe once all the unscrupulous abandon them (surely they have by now?) only the good guys will be left … Is there any harm? (I’ll have to ask Mojeek if they use them.)
Speaking of SEO, I was absolutely astonished that Google Search Console (I signed up a long time ago—it’s an occupational hazard) shows these are the search terms that are drawing people here:
Google Search Console screenshot, description below

The third one is fine, it’s to do with The Professionals. But google seo jackyan and seo company jackyan? Just how am I connected to this murky world other than being critical of some of its techniques? Just what has spurred these searches?

I know most of the theories relating to SEO but I’ve never promoted it as a service offered by any of my businesses. We’ll do it as part of a professional engagement if required, but it seldom is.

Where has Google sent them? Surprisingly, it managed to have some PHP pages in its index. They were three posts all critical of some SEO techniques, including a black-hat one, and how I was going to stop entertaining advertorial enquiries from Gmail, where a lot of “influencer marketing” “guest post” requests come from. The most relevant quote from the top link is, ‘As I’ve often lamented, Google has reduced the Web to a brothel of whores competing to give a robot the best blow job’ (from Reddit).

There are so many dodgy techniques that it’s drowning the search engines. I’m not letting Google off the hook here: thanks to the US Department of Justice’s antitrust division, we know Google has intentionally made its search worse for share-price reasons, and if it weren’t for their funding junk sites with advertising, we wouldn’t be in this position in 2024. Google alone has driven the unscrupulous web, when they could have done a better job from the outset (as I explain here), and it’s in turn plagued every other search engine.

I should be grateful that people are coming here to get exposed to the negative effects of SEO, and to see how annoying they can be to professional publishers. Do it right, with honest players (they are out there, but you’ll need to look for them), and everyone wins. But, fellow publishers, please don’t add to the junk out there. By all means, carry legitimate advertorial, but not crap that pollutes the web.
I know: the irony is that this post is going to get picked up by the SEO searchers on Google.
PS., February 6: I was right.
Google Search Console screenshot, showing the top query as: google seo jackyan

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