Changes To T&Cs…A Lot Of Changes

Has anyone else noticed an influx of notification emails landing in their inbox regarding changes to terms and conditions lately? For an unregulated industry the tools we employ on an every day basis seem to be pretty regulated. This makes me uneasy…the pace of change in search engine marketing is lightning quick – that’s why we love it after all, but the rapidity with which the rules are changing is likely to make any search marketing professional a little fidgety, either that or I’ve seriously overdosed on the caffeine.

So, why the nervousness? Because we provide our clients an ethical service based on what we know to be…well, ethical. But if what’s ethical changes every few months, are we – despite the best intent – doing our clients a long term injustice? I’m very lucky in that I have great clients that are fantastic to work with…I want their HTML and link profile to kick the a*** of their competitors HTML and link profile! I don’t want to deliver them a bad service because I’ve done some great work that once was ok but now isn’t (I also need to get a life and stop making bad tech jokes) #embarrassed.

SEO Gemini Geek
Self Portrait - Surprisingly True To Life

Bottom line is, we want to do the best for our clients playing within the goal posts – but if these are moving with increasing regularity and obscurity, maybe there is cause for concern. A few examples I’ve come across recently:

1. Adwords
“We’re making a policy enforcement change that could affect the performance of any AdWords campaign that uses sitelinks. If you use sitelinks now or plan to use sitelinks in the future, please continue reading to understand the changes and suggested steps that you can take to avoid any negative impact to your campaigns…”

Voila! Change one – Google LOVES Google Adwords, if there’s one tool that’ll be allowed to get away with stuff (ahem “not provided”) it’s Adwords. However the “proactive reinforcement of our existing policy” will come in to play and act on multiple sitelinks within adwords profiles that point to the same landing page. This was a shocker to read! A nice one though as I do agree with their action and am actually chuffed to bits they’re even taking Adwords action – hey, it makes us organic folk feel a lot better 🙂

2. Disavow Links
I know I know – my timings impeccable. Another tool and another set of terms and conditions. This was released just this week – but its something we like, something we like a lot – in fact I think a HURRAH is in order. All that negative SEO or whatever you want to call it, your name for tracking the source of the nasty links we didn’t put there that make our sites look bad is finally something we can fight against and report. Definitely one for the advanced webmasters out there and we’ve been advised not to use it but its good to know that it’s there if we need.

I have a thought on this – with Google’s updated privacy policy extending over all their products and now this; they are collecting yet more information and data.

Hmmm…however perhaps getting reports of bad links can help Google to find the proprietors of these heinous crimes (over reaction), and although they will be getting yet more information from us users…they’ll be using this as an effective and constructive way to fight spam (cue another HURRAH). If this is the case then I’m happy for my information to be used in this way, what the hell, they can even have my dress size if they want.

Although of course spammers could always use it too and intentionally report good links to Google getting them devalued and causing a site’s rankings to fall… just saying.

3. Cookies (not the gooey, chocolatey kind)
This one we’ve all heard of. It promised mayhem and chaos but delivered much like the millennium bug of 2000, a minor, uneventful ripple. The pretty much un-enforceable law concerning users consenting to cookies being used to track their activity on each and every site they’ve visited (really…) caused a lot of disputes and the conditions set out in it were so ambiguous that the most innocent of internet users could be disobeying the law without knowing. It was impractical, clear as mud and caused a lot of grief, and hey it’s just one more thing for us to keep an eye on.

4. Facebook
We’ve always got those Facebook settings we’re continually having to change to ensure our precious and private information and photos don’t end up on a stray app or in a newspaper somewhere (I’ve had personal experience of Facebook pictures being sold without consent and it’s not nice).

And what about Google’s privacy policy we touched on earlier that made it on to the BBC breakfast news? New terms and conditions concerning that too popped into the inbox for us to mull over with a cup of tea and the morning paper.

Are your nerves in shreds yet?

I appreciate I sound like a cynical old women but the rules are changing, who knows what’s going to happen next? My vote goes to an algorithm with the ability to automatically replenish the chocolate supply next to my desk – I think I might pitch that.