If you had any doubts that it is possible to reach through social media, it’s time to but them aside now. Ted Valentin has spent 60 days waiting for information on what he should do to get his sites, that ones ruled the Google SERPs back into Google. but it is only after the kind of performance that we saw yesterday on Twitter (link to Swedish blog post – quite bad Google translation here), that we see some relevant communication from Google on the subject. And not just the everyday canned responses, but actually communication from someone with influence.
This text is an attempt to translate my Swedish blog post on the subject.
Today Matt Cutts , head of Google’s webspam department entered the debate about Ted’s social map sites. He’s made a few comments. One in Teds thread on the Google help forum, and among the comments to Andreas Ekström’s blog entry from yesterday, and now, this very evening Ted’s English blog post about the situation.
So why does Matt Cutts even bother to comment on a network of filtered sites in this way? For starters because the phrase ”Free Ted Valentin” became something of a Twitter-meme yesterday, but also because some of us who participated have quite an audience both on Twitter and through our blogs. But that’s not the only reason. I think that it is mainly the fact that Ted has not given up, nor has he turned anti Google. Instead he has, in a friendly yet persistant way, continued to seek information Google on what to do about the situation. He has done that very openly, through his blog and in the public Google help forum. For those of you not from Sweden, I need to stress that this is quite an ”unswedish” behaviour. Most people would just quietly turn sour instead of hanging out their necks like this.
Ted Valentin has never tried has never tried to hide the fact that he is the guy behind this network of social map sites. Neigher has he (as some SEO people has suggested) tried to hide the fact that his sites are all interlinked. Instead he made it part of his strategy. He even put his face on the first page of all of his sites with a friendly text in which he introduces himself and writes that he is the guy who built them. He comes through as a genuinly nice guy who wants to build a bunch of really good services. When it then turned out he did it so well that Google finally felt forced to filter them out of the search results as he continued his open style and tried first tried make contact with, and get some straight answers from Google following the official routes.
When that didn’t yield satisfying results, a few of us tried to help out getting some straight answers from Google and maybe actually make them change their minds. I’m not writing this post to discuss what Ted should have done differently or what he should or shouldn’tt change on his filtered out sites. There are already plenty of such suggestions on Ted’s own posts on the subject and in the Google help forum. My only suggestion to Ted is to continue to build excelent sites, and to seize this unique opportunity of direct dialogue with Matt Cutts.
Ted has received far too many ”good advice”. Among the most widespread we find suggestions not to host all his sites with the same IP number, not to use the same design and layout on all hte sites and to definitely not interlink them as heavily as Ted has done. Things like the smart black hat SEO folks would laugh at and dismiss as beginner mistakes.
Let us now assume that Ted had chosen this path? How many think that Matt Cutts would engage in a dialogue with him? (I think he would have been filtered sooner or later anyway and I’m not surprised that it happened right after he came in to the competitive hotel market with hotellkartan.se.)
It the end it all comes down to what approach you have when building sites. A gray/black hat approach to building sites is all about how to trick Google into listing them high in the SERPs. Ted’s approach has instead been how he can best help Google to understand what it is that’s important on his sites. There is a huge difference. Ted has received a huge support from the Swedish blogosphere. A support at all has not subsided. His map sites has tons of great links from very respectable Swedish blogs. These are not links Ted has been out asking for. He hasn’t had to do any link trading or even considered buying links. Why should he? He gets them from satisfied users that give them freely out of respect and because they really like Ted’s sites. I call this linkability. It’s not a matter of receiving as many links as possible. In the social web it’s about making as many friends as possible.
I love the open dialogue that is currently going on between Ted and Matt. This is so far from anonymous SEO forums where people obviously know what they are talking about, but do it from a completely different perspective, hiding behind aliases, or simulate genuine blogs to create links that they would never have received naturally.
The coming weeks will be very interesting.